Composer, keyboardist and producer from Munich, Germany, born Harald Faltermeier, into a musical family. His father was a pianist, his grandfather a violinist, and his grandmother a mezzo-soprano. At six years of age, Harold took after his father and took up the piano. At eleven years of age, he was told by his music teacher at Nuremberg that he had perfect pitch.
Although he was classically trained, Harold was wooed by rock and roll, and while he studied piano and trumpet at the Munich Hochschule fur Musik, he also played in a band called Melodic Sound with his brother, Ralf.
In his spare time, he volunteered as a technician at Deutsche Grammophon. This led to a full-time gig, engineering the record label’s now-legendary classical music recordings. Eschewing school for work, he now had extra time to devote to composing, electronic music, and programming.
In 1976, he founded his own publishing house, Kilauea Musikverlag GmbH, which gave him a venue in which to showcase his compositions. He wore multiple hats in the studio, as arranger, musician, producer, re-mixer, and songwriter. Early albums in which he had a hand include Dee D Jackson’s Cosmic Curves, Roberta Kelly’s Gettin’ the Spirit, Suzi Lane’s Ooh, La, La, and Amanda Lear’s I Am a Photograph.
He was discovered by Giorgio Moroder, who encouraged him to move to Los Angeles, California, and arrange and perform on the soundtrack of Midnight Express. His affiliation with Giorgio led directly to work on the Donna Summer albums, Bad Girls and The Wanderer.
In the meantime, the film work came pouring in: He worked on the soundtracks of American Gigolo, Didi – der Doppelganger, and Foxes. His film work afforded him the opportunity to meet Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, a pair of producers, and they asked him to write the score of the romantic thriller, Thief of Hearts.
Harold scored a massive international hit when he penned “Axel F” for the Eddie Murphy action comedy, Beverly Hills Cop. The song improbably entered the Billboard chart at #3 in 1985. This was followed by another movie assignment, writing the score for the Chevy Chase vehicle, Fletch. In 1986, he took home a Grammy for his work on Beverly Hills Cop, just as another of his film projects, Top Gun, was hitting the screens. That resulted in another Grammy Award, this one for his instrumental work on the “Top Gun Anthem”.
In 1987, he released a solo album, Harold F. It included the now-famous “Axel F” theme as well as collaborations with a variety of guest vocalists. This was a busy year in which no fewer than four films featured Harold’s music: Beverly Hills Cop II, Fatal Beauty, The Running Man, and Starlight Express. He somehow found the time to reunite with Donna Summer on her album, All Systems Go. The decade ended with yet another of Harold’s movie projects on the big screen, the Kurt Russell-Sylvester Stallone cop-buddy comedy, Tango and Cash.
It would be the last of his film work for a while, however. Harold’s first child was born, and so he moved back to Munich to raise his family and work out of his own studio. One of the projects that originated therein was the Pet Shop Boys’ 1990 album, Behavior. It was considered one of their best albums, thanks in no small part to Harold’s “sound”, of which Chris and Neil of PSB were big fans.
His wife had twins in 1991, and suddenly the Faltermeyer household was filling up. Amazingly, he managed to work on at least three recordings that year, “Emotional (Remix)” and “Jeanny (Remix)” by Falco and “Beat of Love” by Chris Thompson.
He continued to work on film and TV projects in his native Germany, such as Asterix Conquers America, Frankie, Der Konig von St. Pauli, Kuffs, Ski to the Max, White Magic, and Zeit derSehnsucht, and the video games, Jack Orlando and Lilli die Waldameise.
Around the turn of the decade, he also wrote a musical in tandem with Rainhard Fendrich entitled Wake Up, and it premiered in September of 2002 and ran for about two years at the Raimund Theater in Vienna, Austria.
In 2005, a re-mixed version of “Axel F” captured the public’s imagination when it was turned into a ringtone and performed by the inimitable Crazy Frog and shot to the top of the charts in the U.K.
Harold found more success in the gaming community in 2006 when he wrote the soundtrack for Two Worlds.
He moved back to Hollywood in 2009 and scored the films Cop Out and High School.
Harold was a seminal force in the sound of ‘80s pop music and movie soundtracks, and it seems the story is to be continued.
Giorgio Moroder recordings
Chase (Giorgio Moroder)
Casablanca CAN 144 A (UK 45)
Love’s Theme (Giorgio Moroder)
Casablanca CAN 144 B (UK 45)
Here’s Harold performing his popular “Axel F”….