Falco, Austria's undisputed king of techno-rap (can you name another?), forever in the '80s pop pantheon as the plumed, punkish Mozart in his "Rock Me Amadeus" video, has died at age 40.

He was killed while vacationing in the Dominican Republic, suffering severe head injuries when his sport ute smacked into a bus.

Believe it or not, the artist, originally known as Johann Holzel (he took his stage name from a German ski jumper), was a classically trained prodigy. However, the rebellious Falco preferred the synthesizer to the harpsichord and tried to make his musical name in jazz, rock and punk before turning to the pop ditties that brought him fame and wealth.

Falco, "Rock Me Amadeus" (remix)
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His first song to score was 1983's "Der Kommissar"--an international dance staple (eventually translated into English by After the Fire, which took it to No. 5 in 1983). Three years later, he donned a powdered wig and camped it up for the inescapable "Rock Me Amadeus"--his only U.S. No. 1. His follow-up effort, "Vienna Calling," also got some play on MTV and radio.

Though his novelty numbers secured his place as Austria's greatest pop export, Falco tried the serious route on several songs, without much success. "Jeanny," a tune from Falco 3 (the same album "Amadeus" was on), was targeted by German censors over its titular character, a prostitute; "The Sound of Musik" blasted then Austrian president Kurt Waldheim. Neither cracked the charts.

Subsequent albums like 1988's Weiner Blut and 1992's The Remix Hit Collection (which resurrected his kitchiest tunes) also failed to stir much interest.

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