Abacus was a German art-rock band that released four albums and three singles on Polydor/Zebra between 1971 and 1973.

Members: Hans Rolf Schade (guitar, percussion, sitar, vocals), Felix Hans (drums, percussion, vocals), Chris Williams (vocals, guitar), Klaus Kohlhase (bass, percussion, harmonica), Chris Barutzky (piano, organ), Jürgen Wimpelberg (keyboards, vocals, guitar), Norbert Leifert (keyboards, vocals, flute), Rainer Niklowitz (drums), Manfred Heilmann (vocals, guitar), Alan Warran (drums), Konstantin Bommarius (drums), Reinhard Schulte (bass), Robert Valet (guitar), Peter Terhoeven (guitar), Pattrick Pelzer (vocals), Norbert Hötger (bass, guitar), Marc Klemme (guitar), Gianmarco Moroder (drums)

Abacus evolved from the band Fashion, an unrecorded act from Hamm. They became Abacus with the arrival of English singer/guitarist Chris Williams, fresh off a stint with Grail. In 1971, the new band played before an audience of 30,000 at the Germersheim Rock Festival, appearing alongside Pink Floyd, ELP, and Santana.

Abacus released their self-titled debut album in 1971 on Polydor. Side one features three songs: “Cappucino,” “Don’t Beat So on the Horses,” and the epic “Pipedream Revisited Part I & Part II” (9:35). Side two contains four medium-length songs, including “Chestholder,” “Radbod Blues,” and “Song for John and Yoko.” Williams and Schade co-wrote most of the songs with help on half the number from Barutzky. The album was recorded at Hamburg’s Windrose-Dumont-Time Studios and produced by Gerd Müller, who retained his post for the following two albums. Gestaltungstechnik Fotografie is credited with the cover, on which the five members are represented by infants.

The band’s second Polydor release, Just a Day’s Journey Away, appeared in early 1972. It features seven songs, including the seven-minute opener “Seasong” and the side-two trilogy “Continued On Page 2, Col.6,” “White House May Come,” and “What Else.” The album was engineered by Günther Zipelius (Lucifer’s Friend, Ardo Dombec). After this release, Hans cleared way for drummer Konstantin H. Bommerius.

Abacus released their third album, Everything You Need, in late 1972 on the local Polydor-subsidiary Zebra. Side one features four songs, including “Ivan Hood the White Knight” and the six-minute “Thing We Do.” Side two is consumed by the five-part, twenty-minute title-suite. In keeping with the label’s theme, the cover features a partially zebra-striped female character, courtesy of Gestaltungstechnik. Original vinyl pressings came with a zebra-print inner-sleeve.

In 1973, Abacus issued the non-album Zebra single “Fly With Us” (b/w “The Big Moody”). Their final album, Midway, appeared later that year on the same label. It features nine shorter songs, including “Let’s Face the Voices and Dance/Including Revelation,” “Be Beholding,” “11 Farden”, and “For the Moment.” The album concludes with the 11-minute title-track.

Abacus folded in 1976 but reformed as a live act in 1979. Between 2001 and 2010, the reactivated band issued two albums on Musea. Their ’70s catalog was reissued in 2012 by archivists New Music – Green Tree.

(Abacus are not to be confused with the namesake English hard-rock band that issued the single “Indian Dancer” (b/w “Be That Way”) on the German Bellophon label in 1974.)


  • Abacus (1971)
  • Just a Day’s Journey Away (1972)
  • Everything You Need (1972)
  • “Fly With Us” / “The Big Moody” (1973)
  • Midway (1974)


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