Musician/composer Martin Kolbe earned great success in the 1970s and 80s with the acoustic guitar duo „Kolbe & Illenberger“. At the young age of 17 he released his first solo LP and from then on gradually achieved a reputation throughout Germany as guitarist and singer.
Together with fellow musician Ralf Illenberger he played more than 1.000 concerts in about 40 countries and released 7 joint LPs/CDs before he interrupted his musical career in 1987 due to mental illness, bipolar disorder. “I had to sort out my life first”, he says.
He returned to the stage only in 2012, after a hiatus of 25 years. Unlike before, when he performed mainly as a guitar virtuoso, he now performs songs that deal with mental illness, based on his experiences in mental hospitals and on encounters with fellow-patients he met there. In the spring of 2014 Martin Kolbe released a CD with this program: Songs from the Inside. Guitarist Peter Autschbach, who accompanied him together with Ralf Illenberger on the Bipolar Roadshow in May 2014, supported him during the recording sessions.
Since 2008 Martin Kolbe has been involved with the German Society for Bipolar Disorders (DGBS). In 2011 he was elected as patients' speaker on the board of the DGBS. He is convinced that the only way to fight stigma – which still is a heavy burden on the mentally ill - is talking openly about this illness. He walks his talk as proven in numerous press articles, radio and TV interviews.