May 25--BERLIN -- German composer and big band leader James Last is planning his 2013 European tour unfazed by the fact that he turned 83 in April. The man behind "happy music," whose hits include Happy Heart and Non-Stop Dancing, has sold more than 80 million albums.
Last, who received a lifetime achievement award as "Music Legend with Cult Status" in Berlin this week, has no intention of putting his feet up, as he told dpa in a telephone interview.
dpa: Do you have any idea of the number of prizes you have been awarded?
Last (laughing): Honestly, no.
dpa: Are you following the current debate on copyright?
Last: Of course. The record companies neglected to do things properly and failed to think of the way young people are moving ahead. Maybe they should have adjusted earlier.
dpa: What do you think when your tunes are used as ringtones, or don't you mind how your music is used?
Last: It doesn't necessarily have to be a ringtone. I don't know. I'm not really that concerned. I make music, after all. If anyone wants to rework my music, they should ask me. I'm not at all difficult in that respect.
But when someone wants to interfere with the copyright, when someone has composed a beautiful song ... then they can't just say: "I'm laying claim to the rights there as well." Someone has put work into it. It has a value. I think it's great that young people are so keen on music that they simply download it. But you can't just grab the rights.
dpa: Have you got a solution in mind?
Last: As I've just said, I make music. It is the same in politics. They build platforms out to sea and then find out there are no cables. Everything was done too late. The youngsters are much quicker (on the internet) than those people in their big rooms protecting the rights retroactively.
dpa: Do you watch the Eurovision Song Contest?
Last: Of course. You have to know what's going on. Astonishing that Azerbaijan has got something like that. That's great, really.
dpa: How do you keep yourself in shape -- you're going on tour yet again in 2013?
Last: I take some exercise, and the music keeps you young, if you move with the times. I have the greatest respect for young people, and I'm happy to be able to join in. Lots of young people come to me and say, "Can you write down the sheet music for this?" That happens very often. Or they hit a button on the computer and something comes out. I can do that too (strumming a chord on his computer).
dpa: Are you currently working on the computer?
Last: Almost always. I'm working on arrangements for the tour.
dpa: Do you think of going on pension?
Last: What's a pension? Have you ever met a musician who receives a pension? ... When I was 25, I told my first wife I was looking forward to old age. I don't need crosswords. I can take up old musical scores, listen to new music. I've got a great life.