The Night David Hasselhoff Rocked The Berlin Wall David Hasselhoff is best known for the TV shows Baywatch and Knight Rider, but to Germans he's a pop hero. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Hasselhoff reminisces about his song that became a soundtrack for that historic moment, "Looking for Freedom."

The Night David Hasselhoff Rocked The Berlin Wall

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(Soundbite of song, "Looking for Freedom")

Mr. DAVID HASSELHOFF (Actor, Singer): (Singing) One morning in June some 20 years ago, I was born a rich man's son.

GUY RAZ, host:

You're hearing a recording of David Hasselhoff performing live at the Brandenburg Gate on New Year's Eve 1989, just a few weeks after the wall fell.

The man known here in the U.S. for his roles in "Baywatch" and "Knight Rider" was a pop superstar in Germany. And since both East and West Berliners have access to the same radio stations, that night, everyone was whistling his number one hit on the German pop charts, a song called "Looking for Freedom."

(Soundbite of song, "Looking for Freedom")

Mr. HASSELHOFF: (Singing) I've been looking for freedom since I left my hometown.

RAZ: When Berlin city officials decided to celebrate the fall of the wall and put on the biggest concert the city had ever seen, they turned to David Hasselhoff.

And I'm pleased to announce that sitting in our New York bureau is the man himself, David Hasselhoff, (German spoken).

Mr. HASSELHOFF: (German spoken)

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: So, I watched the video of that performance. You've got the Brandenburg Gate in the background, you've got all kinds of late '80s hairstyles going on in the crowd. But I got to say, you're wearing an amazing jacket. It's actually battery-powered lights on that jacket. Do you still have it?

Mr. HASSELHOFF: I think the jacket now is more famous than me. I still have it. That jacket was actually invented for a concert for the Osmonds called The Ring of Fire, which is the celebration of freedom of July 4th. And so, you know, when I had this opportunity to sing, I said, well, only if I can sing on the wall. And I never thought in a million years they'd say yes because they knew that Honecker and Helmut Cole's on�

RAZ: Erich Honecker from East Germany and Helmut Cole from the West.

Mr. HASSELHOFF: Yeah. They needed their approval and they got it. And they called me back and they said, great, we'd like you to sing. And I said, well, how about a crane above the wall? And they went, okay. And I said, let's bring out the jacket. And so I put the jacket on, fired it up and it was amazing night.

RAZ: What were you thinking as you stood there in front of the Brandenburg Gate looking out at this massive crowd, hundreds of thousands of people, just a few weeks after the wall came down?

Mr. HASSELHOFF: All I could think of is they're hoisting my wife on the wall and she's pregnant. And they were actually singing in English and there was actual band on the wall. If you looked down, they were actually playing it with horns. And I was taking everything in slowly because I thought this is going to be the most magical moment of my life other than the birth of my children, of course. So, I said there's no way I'll ever top this. This is an amazing moment in history and I'm right here.

And two days before I'd gone into East Germany to actually sing on one of their television shows, and I was the first American to sing in a East German studio since 1945.

RAZ: So, when's the next time you're going to be singing "Looking for Freedom" in Berlin?

Mr. HASSELHOFF: Probably this weekend. I'm sure something's going to happen. I just know something's going to happen and they're going to ask me to sing it. So�

RAZ: Can you still belt it out in the same way you could 20 years ago?


RAZ: And presumably, thousands of people will be singing along.

Mr. HASSELHOFF: They will. It's pretty amazing when you go way back in the woods of like a place called Vinanoichdot(ph) in Austria. And there's a little old lady with a little bonnet on and little basket and then I start singing that song and she starts clapping, I've been looking for freedom, and that's the only English she knows. And it's - I've been looking for freedom, and it's pretty cool.

RAZ: That's the one and only David Hasselhoff, star of "Baywatch," "Knight Rider" and a pop music legend in Germany, speaking with us from our studios in New York.

David Hasselhoff, thank you so much.

Mr. HASSELHOFF: (German spoken) - thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "Looking for Freedom")

Mr. HASSELHOFF: (Singing) It can't be found, can't be found�

RAZ: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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