The band was founded 1995 in Berlin by Christopher Blenkinsop (bouzouki, ukulele & vocals), Carsten Wegener (bass), Lutz "Lüül" Ulbrich (banjo & guitar), Kristin "Kiki" Sauer (accordion & vocals) and Reinhard "Koma" Lüderitz (bagpipes). They first used the name 17 Hippies in the fall of that year.
In 1996 they began to organize their own series of free concerts called Hippie Haus Tanz (Hippie House Dance). At this time Antje Henkel (clarinet), Elmar Gutmann (trumpet), and Ulrike "Rike" Lau (cello) joined the band. In 1997 Henry Notroff (clarinet) and Dirk Trageser (guitar & vocals) also were added, and live recordings of different concerts and rehearsal room sessions were compiled into their first CD Rock'n'Roll 13. In 1998 they played at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas and then toured in Texas and Louisiana. Later that year Uwe Langer (trombone) joined the band and they played in Paris for the first time.
They established their own record label and in 1999 released their second CD Wer ist das? (Who is that?). The French label Buda Musique released a compilation of both CD’s called Berlin Style, which was then also released in Italy. Volker "Kruisko" Rettmann (accordion) joined the band.
In 2001 the band wrote the score for the German movie Grill Point (Halbe Treppe) by Andreas Dresen and they performed in a cameo role in the film. A tour of Budapest, Prague, Vienna and France took place, and the second French album Sirba was released, featuring their first radio hit "Marlène". Kerstin Kaernbach (violin) also was added to the band lineup. Their first studio album Ifni was released in 2004. An extensive tour of Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Morocco and France ensued. Daniel Friederichs (violin) became the last member to join the current lineup. In 2006 the band made a tour of Japan and Spain and composed the music for the play Kasimir and Karoline, staged at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin.
In 2007, a second studio album Heimlich (Secretly) was released in Europe and North America. In September they embarked on their first US tour, playing in Chicago, New York, Washington and Bloomington. In December they played at the Olympia in Paris. In 2008, their earlier albums were released in the UK by Proper Records, they toured the US twice, and they played festivals in Germany, France, the UK, Canada, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland, Greece, and Algeria.
In 2009 they released their third studio album El Dorado, the first of their albums to be released worldwide. Again the band went on an extensive world tour, that took them to 14 countries including China, the US, Israel and Jordan. Concert highlights included appearances at WOMAD in Charlton Park (UK), and a sold out show at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris. In 2011 they performed a concert at the WOMAD New Zealand, in Taranaki, New Zealand, which a one-hour broadcast was later played on Radio New Zealand National on 1 July 2011
In 2011 JD Foster co-produced their album Phantom Songs. Since then they have added Mexico to their list of countries visited, recorded an album for children called Titus and recorded their first album with percussionists, including Aly Keita, Harald Grosskopf and Tunji Beier, called Biester (Beasts).
Their style is a unique mix of Eastern European melodies and rhythms, with French chanson and American folk music. They sing mainly in German, English and French. In France their music is known as Berlin Style.
Since 1997 the 17 Hippies occasionally play with DJs and electronic musicians as the "Sexy Ambient Hippies", with major concerts in Paris, Berlin and Munich. Among the featured artists are Carsten Dane from Hamburg, and Robert Cummings from Canada. The concert at the Pop d’Europe festival in Berlin on 31 August 2002 was recorded, and released on CD in 2003.
Together with Les Hurlements d'Léo from Bordeaux, they recorded an EP with six songs. After giving concerts in Moscow, and going on a French tour, the album was released in France by Wagram Music in 2004.
On 19 December 2004, a concert for German national radio WDR in Cologne, featuring the two electric guitarists Marc Ribot and Jakob Ilja, was recorded and released on CD in 2006.
In September 2008 they invited the percussionist Johnny Kalsi of the Dhol Foundation in London to play with them. A first concert was given on 12 September in Dortmund, Germany and was broadcast live by German public radio WDR.Rock’n’roll 13 : 1997 | CD, Rent a Poet
Texas Radio : 1998 | MC, Rent a Poet
Wer ist das? : 1999 | CD, Rent a Poet
Sirba : 2002 | CD, Buda Musique
Soundtrack for the film Halbe Treppe : 2002 | CD, Rent a Poet
17 Hippies play Sexy Ambient Hippies : 2003 | CD, Rent a Poet
Ifni : 2004 | CD, Rent a Poet
Live in Berlin : 2005 | DVD, Rent a Poet
17 Hippies Play Guitar : 2006 | CD, Hipster Records
Live in Berlin : 2006 | CD, Hipster Records/Proper Music
Heimlich : 2007 | CD & LP, Hipster Records/Proper Music
El Dorado : 2009 | CD & LP, Hipster Records/Proper Music
Phantom Songs : 2011 | CD & LP, Hipster Records/Proper Music
17 Hippies chantent en français : 2013 | CD, Buda Musique
17 Hippies für Kinder - Titus träumt : 2013 | CD, Rent a Poet
Biester : 2014 | CD & LP, Hipster Records/Proper Music
Anatomy : 2016 | CD, Rent a Poet
Metamorphosis : 2016 | CD, Rent a Poet
17 Hippies für Kinder : 1999 | Tyfoo Musikverlag, Berlin
Realbook, Volume 1 : 2001 | Tyfoo Musikverlag, Berlin
Realbook, Volume 2 : 2001 | Tyfoo Musikverlag, Berlin-->