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Paul de Leeuw
World Music Awards
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* At 13 he had to
* At 16 he had his first broken heart
* At 19 he was homeless
(Germany), April 1999
dream began in his room in a small rental house in Germany, only 20
square feet tall, with nothing but a closet, a small writing-table and a
stack bed. He had to share his room with his brother Hakan. "Elvis
Presley and Shakin' Stevens were my idols",
remembers Tarkan. "My
walls were covered with their posters, and I had only one dream: to be
as famous as them" But
there was no money for this kind of crazy dreams. Tarkan's father
Ali, who moved from
to Germany in the 60's, had a tough time to make both ends meet. His
mother had her hands full with maintaining the big household.
At the age of six Tarkan went to school. "I
was always a quiet and good boy", he
says. "In my free time
I always sang Turkish pop songs and traditional Turkish music or I
watched my goldfishes. I love fish."
When Tarkan was ten he changed
school . His favorite classes were music, biology and art.
How sweet: Tarkan was already dancing
at the age of four.
sang in the school choir and made paintings of flowers and
animals", he remembers.
"In the summertime I earned
some pocket money and I bought my first stereo."
But at the age of 13 came a big
shock! Tarkan's father decided to go back to Turkey. "We
couldn't understand why he wanted to go back. We were raised
there, we had our friends there. We were totally disappointed he
made this decision without consulting us."
his eldest sisters refused to go back and stayed in Germany, the rest of
the family moved back to Turkey - in the province of Karamürsel near
Izmit. "For me, the
worst years of my life began, the conservative attitude of the Turkish
people was a real culture shock to me",
"I wore worn out jeans,
multi-colored T-shirts and an earring, but over there multi-colored
clothes are forbidden for men. In school I had to wear a dark blue
uniform and a tie, and I had to get a hair cut."
he concentrated on Turkish literature in school, and was the head of his
class, he acted rebellious. "He walks and talks like a pop star",
his teacher often said to his parents.
Tarkan was 16, when he discovered love. "I
fell for a girl, who was five years older then me, it was only an
says. "Not much later I
fell in love for the first time. Nikris was her name, she was 15
and the daughter of my music teacher, were I took lessons in classical
love without a future, as Tarkan's unpredictable father decided to
move again - to Istanbul this time. "I
was really sad I had to break up with my girl friend. After this disappointment
nothing mattered anymore, and I led a wild life with innumerous
sex-adventures and affairs. In Istanbul, I had many girlfriends at
the same time and many one-night-stands."
In 1993 Tarkan's dream
came true: he became a pop star
Tarkan fell in love for the second time: Her name was Tülin and
went to the same school. But once more, his father made them move
back to Karamürsel again.
After he finished high school, he backed his bags, and went to Istanbul
without any money. He lived on the streets for days, until he
found shelter with his friend Alpay.
didn't know what to do, my life was senseless",
Tarkan says. But then his luck changed: he met the producer Mehmet
Sögütoglu, and his first album "Yine Sensiz" (again without
you) became a giant success in 1993. Today Tarkan is a star and
lives in a luxurious loft in Manhattan. He can't go back to
Turkey, however: he would be forced to do his military service.
Bravo Magazine, April 1999.
Translated from German by Marleen