MICHAEL TELLINGER – MUSICAL CAREER
Michael Tellinger released his first SA record in 1981, called HAZEL, and was nominated for the SARIE award in that year as best male vocalist. Later in 1981 Tellinger played the part of Joseph in the opening of the State Theatre in Pretoria. Michael Tellinger and Russell Stirling combined to become a successful vocal/guitar duo during the early 80’s before splitting up in 1985.
Michael Tellinger graduated from Wits University in 1983 with a B.Pharm degree. While studying he spent most of his time moving within entertainment circles.
He started his career on stage in Nick Taylor’s musical “Christian” at His Majesty’s theatre, Johannesburg in 1980. Following this he played the part of Joseph at the opening of the State Theatre and toured with the show for two years. At this time he launched his solo career and released his first single called “Hazel” in 1981, which was nominated for a SARIE award, as best male vocalist.
Shortly after this Michael teamed up with Russell Stirling and formed the pop/vocal/guitar duo “Stirling & Tellinger”. The two performed together for four years and had music hits with “Call Me” and “What’s a Nice Girl Like You, Doing In a Place Like This”. The “Call Me” video was voted among the top two most popular videos at MIDEM in Cannes 1983. In 1985 the duo recorded an album in Nashville, under the guidance of Terry Dempsey – a successful song writer and producer who’s most memorable song was probably David Cassidy’s “Daydreamer” in 1973. During a year in Los Angeles Terry attracted the attention of various top agents and labels but because of the cultural boycott against South African musicians, all original offers made to Stirling & Tellinger were retracted, and abruptly ended what could have been an interesting musical career.
While in LA, Michael worked for Cannon Films as a sound designer and editor, returning to SA in mid 1986, where he continued his musical career with more performances and recordings. His song “We come from Johannesburg” in 1986 was a nine-minute anti-apartheid epic. It was also the first Rap album to be released by a South African artist. The song was instantly banned due to its strong anti-government sentiment. Tellinger became a target of the regime: phone tapping, South African Police surveillance, several threats on his life, and other intimidatory tactics. The song was originally written in Los Angeles by Michael Tellinger and Neil Johnson of Radio 702 fame, while living in exile. It was a response to Little Steven Van Zandt’s “Sun City”. Tellinger and Johnson wrote the rap epic to put on record a South African perspective of the situation in their country.
Michael Tellinger has written, recorded and released thirteen records and CDs since 1981, has performed and toured extensively in SA and abroad as a musician and written songs for various events and artists in SA.
As an actor Michael appeared as one of the leads in South Africa’s first soap opera called “Orpen House” and then played the lead in a six-episode series “The Star Shooters” in 1987 for which the Stirling & Tellinger album was used as the soundtrack.
In 1988 he got involved in the advertising industry as a writer receiving a Clio award in New York for a radio campaign on DEFY.
Michael was involved as a presenter on a variety of hit SABC shows like Graffiti and Fast Forward. His experience with SABC led him to get involved in TV production and he created shows like the talk show called “Late Nite Live” and “Weekend Bonus”.
In 1995 he moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town where he started a radio specialist agency called Airheads with partner Philip Botha. In 1997 Michael launched Nebula BOS Records (Birthplace of Stars) to provide local and international distribution for independent South African artists and labels. The catalogue grew to over four hundred artists within the first year and its Internet presence led to a distribution deal with Warner Bros. NEBULA BOS released 10 South African artists in Germany and 7 Albums in the USA.
In 2000 he was given his own weekly radio show on Cape Talk radio that dealt with South African innovation, technology, astronomy and success stories.
In January 2001, Michael created and sold a children’s educational television show called The DANCIMALS / AMAGAGU to the SABC. They shot 40 half-hour episodes for which he developed the animal characters, and wrote all the music which consisted of 80 educational songs. In 2002 the work on the children’s TV show developed into an educational publishing company called The Brain Food Company that focuses on developing a wide range of educational books, games and AV products, which were translated into 6 African languages.
His last work in the music studio was in 2005 when he wrote “Side By Side With Angels”, a collaboration of SA musicians for the TSUNAMI disaster fund. The song was produced by Michael and Verny Scholtz, the founding member of South African group Just Jinger. The song and video featured a host of leading SA artists like Malaika, Dr. Victor, Watershed, Dawnay and others.