He said many Germans – such as music critic Rainer Moritz, who referred to him as the "vomiting agent of several generations" – had been too snobbish to recognise his success as a cultural figurehead, but that the proof of his talent was in his sales figures, as well as the fact he has a recognisability factor of 99%, even higher than that of the chancellor, Angela Merkel.
"Why should an old oak be bothered by the pig that claws it?" he asked, pointing out – as he likes to – that in 1980 his album Lieder der Berge (Songs of the Mountains) sold 1.2m copies in Germany while John Lennon, who was assassinated in December that year, sold just 200,000.
"For years I've been the butt of jokes, but to date I've sold 50m records. If anyone from the music scene laughs at me now, all I can do is laugh back," he said. "The day before yesterday four young people passed me on the autobahn, gave me the thumbs up and waved. These are things that make a 74-year-old happy. After all, they could be saying: 'what's that old geezer up to?'" he said.No one should be surprised.