Nena

Pop singer Nena is best known for fronting the German new-wave pop band of the same name in the '80s. They had a global smash in 1984 with "99 Luftballons."

Nena was born Gabriela Kerner on March 26, 1960, in Hagen, West Germany. She sang in a band called the Stripes before forming the quartet Nena in the early '80s.

The band issued two German-language LPs in 1983 and 1984, and culled songs from those records for its U.S. debut, 99 Luftballons. The bouncy, Blondie-esque German-language title track rose to the top of the pop charts in several countries. In the U.S., where the German version was played alternately on the radio with an English version ("99 Red Balloons" [RealAudio excerpt]), the song went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold. The LP also included "Hangin' on You."

Nena next issued an English-language album, It's All in the Game (1985). But when it flopped, the band dissolved. Since then, Kerner has been recording as a solo artist, mostly in her native language.

Punk-rockers Goldfinger cover "99 Red Balloons" on their new EP, Stomping Ground.

Other birthdays Sunday: Rufus Thomas, 83; Fred Parris (Five Satins), 64; Diana Ross, 56; Richard Tandy (Electric Light Orchestra), 52; Fran Sheehan (Boston), 51; Teddy Pendergrass, 50; James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), 32.