Named after a Hermann Hesse novel, Siddhartha was a unique and unusual blend of progressive and art rock, with bits of psychedelic and even proto-punk thrown in. The roots of the group go back to 1971, in a small town outside Stuttgart in southwestern Germany, where keyboardist Martin Morike and violinist Gerhard Kraus practiced constantly in Morike's basement. Eventually they decided to form a band, and they enlisted guitarist Eberhard Muller and drummer Klaus Hermann, fellow students at their university. After rejecting several bass players, they obtained Klaus Scharff through a classified ad.
In 1973, Muller came up with the name for the group and they started to gig locally while the various members continued their college studies. One of their live pieces, also called "Siddhartha," was a very long improvisation over which various members of the band read from the Hesse novel, accompanied by a light show and smoke machines. The group decided in 1975 to release an album as a way to get more live gigs. In early April and again in mid-May of that year at the Ton Studio in Stuttgart, they recorded material with the help of guests Gabi Popmanith on vocals, Iris Rothermel on flute, and Lothar Mattlinger on tuba. After failing to find a label that was interested in their unusual work, they released the album, Weltschmertz, as a 400-copy private pressing near the end of 1975. By the late '90s, this record had become a collector's item worth 500 dollars, and it was finally put out on CD by reissue label Garden of Delights. Siddhartha lasted until the end of 1977, when various members had to move away because of university studies or civil service. ~ Rolf Semprebon