The band was formed in 1982 when vocalist Gabriele Kerner came to Berlin with drummer Rolf Brendel, her boyfriend at the time. There they assembled the other members of the band, which took its name from their lead singer’s nickname (a corruption of the Spanish for “little girl”), which she had acquired as a toddler during a family holiday to Spain.
The band wrote all of their songs themselves, typically working in pairs. They became overnight sensations in Germany when they performed their debut single “Nur geträumt” on German TV in August 1982, Nena herself wearing a distinctive short red skirt. The single reached #2 in the German charts, a position it occupied for 6 weeks, and also climbed high in the Austrian, Belgian, Dutch and Swiss charts. In early 1983 the follow-up single "99 Luftballons" spent a further 7 weeks at #2 before finally reaching the top slot, a position the debut album (Nena) matched.
By the time the band released its 2nd album (? (Fragezeichen)) in Germany in January 1984, "99 Luftballons" was starting to climb the US charts, where it reached #2 and became one of the most successful non-English language tracks in US Billboard chart history. With the English version of the song ("99 Red Balloons") achieving the #1 position in the UK, the band became internationally famous and in 1984 gave concerts and made TV appearances in Scandinavia, UK, Spain and France as well as a 7-date tour (on consecutive nights) of Japan. An international album (99 Luftballons) which comprised a combination of English versions of tracks from the first two German albums, performed respectably, reaching #31 in the UK charts in mid 1984.
During 1984, Nena herself suddenly attracted publicity for not shaving her armpits. Bemused at the attention this generated, she shaved them immediately and has continued to do so ever since.
Whilst enjoying international prominence on the back of "99 Luftballons", the band continued to enjoy domestic success in Germany with a string of hits in 1984 and the first half of 1985. The ? (Fragezeichen) album matched the band's debut album in making it to the top spot and spawned two of the band's best known and most successful singles (the title track and "Rette mich"). They also had success with a couple of songs which would eventually be included on their third studio album, Feuer und Flamme, most notably "Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann".
Nena was also the name of the band with whom she released the 1984 English recording of her most well-known song “99 Red Balloons” (orginally released in Germany in 1983 as “99 Luftballons”)
Nena acquired her nickname, which means “baby girl” in Spanish, at the age of 3 during a vacation to Spain. Her first band was called The Stripes (1979). They had a very minor hit with the song “Ecstasy”, but never managed to achieve broad success.
The band Nena was formed with Nena (singer), Rolf Brendel (drums), Carlo Karges (guitar), Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen (keyboard) and Jürgen Dehmel (bass) in Berlin in 1981. Their first hit single, “Nur geträumt” (“Only In Dreams”), came in 1982 after appearing on the German television program Musikladen.
The following year they released their self-titled first album, which contained the singles “99 Luftballons” and “Leuchtturm” (“Lighthouse”). “99 Luftballons” was a #1 hit in many countries (including the U.S.) and an English version of the song, “99 Red Balloons”, was recorded, and retains some measure of cultural influence, being referred to in current music - the Guster track Amsterdam. The song also featured in an episode of Scrubs, Gilmore Girls the film, Grosse Point Blank, and most recently the movie Watchmen. Nena then released ? (Fragezeichen) in 1984, Feuer und Flamme (“Fire And Flame”, means “to be all for it”) in 1985, Eisbrecher (“Icebreaker”) in 1986. During her success in the UK, Nena was also famous for having hairy armpits, which in the UK was unusual for a woman to have.
Nena (born Gabriele Susanne Kerner on March 24, 1960 in Hagen, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany) is a singer and actress and the co-founder (with three others) of the Neue Schule Hamburg, a school following the Sudbury model.
Nena started dating Swiss actor Benedict Freitag shortly after the band separated in 1987.
The couple had three children together, the first being Christopher Daniel, who was born disabled due to alleged medical mistakes made during the birth, which caused Nena to go into cardiac arrest. He died at the age of 11 months.
In 1990 they had twins, Larissa Maria and Sakias Manuel.
99 Red Balloons
You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got.
Set them free at the break of dawn
'Til one by one, they were gone.
Back at base, bugs in the software
Flash the message, Something's out there.
Floating in the summer sky.
99 red balloons go by.
99 red balloons.
floating in the summer sky.
Panic bells, it's red alert.
There's something here from somewhere else.
The war machine springs to life.
Opens up one eager eye.
Focusing it on the sky.
Where 99 red balloons go by.
99 Decision Street.
99 ministers meet.
To worry, worry, super-scurry.
Call the troops out in a hurry.
This is what we've waited for.
This is it boys, this is war.
The president is on the line
As 99 red balloons go by.
99 Knights of the air
Ride super-high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a superhero.
Everyone's a Captain Kirk.
With orders to identify.
To clarify and classify.
Scramble in the summer sky.
As 99 red balloons go by.
99 dreams I have had.
In every one a red balloon.
It's all over and I'm standing pretty.
In this dust that was a city.
If I could find a souvenier.
Just to prove the world was here.
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go.