What is David Bowie doing on the banks of the Rhine?

The Sound of Düsseldorf


What is David Bowie doing on the banks of the Rhine?

Interview with Henk Wyniger, designer and illustrator from Düsseldorf, Germany

Henk Wyniger lives as an independent designer and illustrator in Düsseldorf. Before Corona, he took part in our music city tour "The Sound of Düsseldorf" - along the legendary clubs and pubs. On the way, the Boombox plays the most important songs "Made in Düsseldorf". In the midst of the pandemic, Wyniger has now created an illustrative monument to the city tour. We talked to him about the tour, the two guides and Düsseldorf as a city of music.

If you know anything about music, the first thing you ask about your picture is: What is David Bowie doing on the Rhine promenade, Henk Wyniger?

Bowie was very interested in the Düsseldorf music scene in the 1970s before his time in Berlin. That's one of the exciting music stories I learned on the city tour.

How did you hear about the city tour "The Sound of Düsseldorf - Iconic music locations and their songs"?

After I moved from Cologne to Düsseldorf, I noticed a list of celebrities on the Internet who have their roots in Düsseldorf. Among them were many musicians like Westernhagen, Heino, Campino, Kraftwerk or Doro. I then made an illustration in a Franco-Belgian style, which was based on a classic comic cover. For this I needed a good title and again I found it on the Internet. That was my first contact with "The Sound of Düsseldorf".

Was the tour what you expected?

No, not at all! With city tours, as I knew them so far, this tour was a real surprise. That you walk in a group accompanied by loud music from a boombox similar to a bachelor party through the old town, I had not expected. A city tour not only for music enthusiasts. The tour gives many surprising insights and tells stories about the Düsseldorf music scene and its influence on the entire world from the past to the present.

"My first record I bought myself was by Kraftwerk."

"The Sound of Düsseldorf" - what did you associate it with before?

My first self-purchased record was by Kraftwerk, and I also associated the Toten Hosen with Düsseldorf. That's basically all I knew about the sound of Düsseldorf.

Illustrator Henk Wyniger surrounded by his best friends

Which story surprised you the most?

I was then actually surprised that Düsseldorf is internationally known as a place of activity especially for electronic music. The story about the band NEU! or the musician Wolfgang Riechmann, who met a tragic end in the old town, then made me curious.

Do you have an explanation as to why so much influential music was created in Düsseldorf?

I find that this city also inspires me a lot. It's very pleasant to work here and you meet many like-minded people. Maybe it's actually this closeness within this small big city, and the spark of inspiration can jump over to the next person faster that way.

How did you experience the two guides, Michael Wenzel and Sven-André Dreyer?

It's as if the two of them did the tour just for this one moment. They are insanely committed and you are really infected by their enthusiasm for music and stories.

How did you come to create a graphic memorial to the tour now in spring 2021?

Düsseldorf has more to offer musically than Kraftwerk, Campino and Heino. I decided to redraw my fictional comic cover without further ado. On the front right are the two guides Michael and Sven, who lead us through the story. Then, of course, there's Bowie, who's interested in the Düsseldorf group NEU! . Campino can be seen doing cartwheels as a representative of the punk scene. I was particularly touched by the sad story of Wolfgang Riechmann, who is the young man in blue behind Bowie. On the bench sits Ralf Dörper who likes to wear camouflage, in the 1980s I was a fan of his band Propaganda myself. I don't have to say much about the four robot-like strolling gentlemen with the red shirts and black ties, they are world-famous. Actually there should be many more people on the picture, it doesn't do justice to the many stories from the leadership. Maybe an update will follow sometime.

You recently posted the illustration on Instagram. What if you want to hang the painting on your wall?

If you are interested in my illustrations, feel free to visit me on my homepage or my Instagram channel. In my store I also offer a signed fine art print.

What kind of music did you actually listen to while you were working on the piece?

On Spotify there is a playlist especially for the tour, compiled by Sven and Michael.


Click here for the online portfolio of Henk Wyniger.

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More about "The Sound of Düsseldorf" can be found here.

Images: © Henk Wyniger

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