Klaus Nomi (born Klaus Sperber) (January 24, 1944–August 6, 1983) was a German counter-tenor performer, noted for his remarkable vocal performances and unusual stage persona. He became one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS, in 1983.
Nomi moved from Germany to New York City in the mid-1970s. He began his involvement with the art scene based in the East Village. After a chance meeting in a nightclub, David Bowie hired him and Joey Arias as back-up singers for a performance on Saturday Night Live on Dec 14, 1979. Nomi also collaborated with famed producer Man Parrish.
Nomi is remembered for his bizarrely theatrical live performances, sporting heavy make-up, unusual costumes, and highly-stylized hairdos. His songs were just as unusual, ranging from synthesizer-laden interpretations of classic opera to covers of songs like Chubby Checker's The Twist.
In his youth he worked as an usher at the Deutsche Opera in Berlin and would imitate such singers as Elvis Presley and Maria Callas. He didn't get into the Deutsche Opera as a singer. He got depressed and went to New York. There he first had a job as a pastry chef at the World Trade Center and later formed a freelance baking company but sang in rock clubs too. Nomi and Arias sang backing vocals on Bowie's songs "The Man Who Sold the World", "TVC15" and "Boys Keep Swinging". After that Nomi got a lot of gigs...
-Roberto St. Orm
Read more, including personal recollections and photos at The Blitz Kids
Here's my favourite recording: Ding Dong