Triumvirat was a German progressive rock trio that formed in 1969 in Cologne, Germany. The founding members were: keyboardist/composer Hans-Jürgen (later simply Jürgen) Fritz (born March 13, 1953), drummer/lyricist Hans Bathelt, and bassist Werner Frangenberg.
Triumvirat is the Latin word for a triumvirate, a grouping of three powerful men, thus referring to the musical trio.
During its early years, Triumvirat initially played Top 40 songs at local venues in Cologne. The Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmerheavily influenced Triumvirat’s musical direction and the band incorporated some of Nice/ELP music into their repertoire (Rondoamong others). In fact, at the height of their fame during the 70’s prog rock era, Triumvirat was often referred to as the ‘German Emerson, Lake & Palmer’ or ‘ELP clone’ due to Fritz's classical virtuosity on keyboards and synthesizers.
In the early 1970s, the band sent a demo tape to EMI Records in Cologne and won their first record contract. Triumvirat subsequently produced modestly successful albums during the early to mid-1970s, including Mediterranean Tales: Across The Waters andIllusions on a Double Dimple and toured the United States with Fleetwood Mac to support Illusions on a Double Dimple, playing the album in its entirety. In 1975, Triumvirat reached the apex of their commercial success with the release of Spartacus, which is considered by many as a classic "prog rock" masterpiece album, along with Illusions on a Double Dimple.
The band underwent numerous personnel changes over the course of its life and eventually disbanded in 1980 with the release of their final album Russian Roulette. In 2002, they planned to release The Website Story; however, the album was never released. An officially-authorized biography of the group was written by Russell Schenewerk and appears on www.triumvirat.net.
In spring 2012 EMI released the first ever Triumvirat compilation Essential with tracks from all of the seven albums.
Vocalist/bassist Helmut Köllen (performing on the band's most successful albums, Illusions and Spartacus) left the band after Spartacus to pursue a solo career. On May 3, 1977, at the age of 27 (born March 2, 1950), he died from carbon monoxide poisoning while listening to some of his studio tracks in his car's cassette player while running the engine in his garage. His debut solo album You Won't See Me was released posthumously in October 1977.
In 2015 album Illusions on a Double Dimple (1974) was ranked number 45 in the Rolling Stone list of 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time.