Singer and songwriter Wolfgang Niedecken is best known as the founder and leader of the popular German rock group BAP, and in his homeland, he's a well-respected figure on a par with Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, performing passionate songs about both personal and global issues. Born in Cologne, Germany on March 30, 1951, Niedecken formed his first band in 1966 while attending boarding school, and played with several local combos before receiving a degree in art from the Cologne University of Applied Sciences in 1974. (Niedecken is an accomplished visual artist who also designs many of his own album covers.) Niedecken formed BAP in 1976, and the band slowly built a reputation among critics and fans until they scored a breakthrough in 1981 with the hit single "Verdamp Lang Her," a powerful song about strained family relationships from BAP's album Für Usszeschnigge! BAP grew into one of Germany's most successful bands, releasing 19 albums between 1983 and 2011, and Niedecken, who combined music with activism by supporting a variety of political and social causes (including anti-racism groups and relief for Africa), launched a low-key solo career in 1987 with a collection of topical songs, Schlagzeiten. Niedecken paid homage to one of his key influences with his second solo effort, 1995's Leopardefell, in which he performed translated interpretations of 17 Bob Dylan songs. Niedecken had matured into an elder statesman of German rock, often invited to join his friend Bruce Springsteen on-stage when the American star toured in Europe, when his life and career took a dramatic turn in November 2011: Niedecken suffered a severe stroke, and BAP were forced to cancel all future concert dates. In 2013, Niedecken made a dramatic return to the music scene with a solo album, Zosamme Alt, that celebrated his wife and family as well as his own survival. The album was a commercial success, and Niedecken took a long look at his past and present with the publication of a two-volume autobiography, Für'ne Moment (2012) and Zugabe (2013). ~ Mark Deming, Rovi