Die Höhner championed the traditions of German folk and karnevalsmusik into the 21st century, even singing in the local dialect of their native Köln. Peter Werner, Walter Pelzer, Rolf Lessenich, and Janus Fröhlich founded the group -- originally dubbed Höhnerhoff (i.e., "Chickenyard") -- in 1972. Per their tongue-in-cheek moniker, the quartet played its earliest gigs in chicken costumes, decorating the stage like a barnyard and dumping feathers into the audience. With 1973's "Höhnerhoff-Rock," the band scored its first hit, followed a year later by the beloved "Scheiss Ejal, ob Do Hohn Bes Oder Hahn." In 1975 Höhnerhoff abbreviated its name to Die Höhner, that same year headlining the cast of the stage farce Drei Dag ahl Kölle. In 1976, the group mounted its first nationwide tour, playing to its biggest audience to date at the Lachende Münsterhalle. Despite their burgeoning success, Rolf Lessenich exited in 1977, and with new frontman Peter Horn, Die Höhner recorded "Unsre Bock Ess Meister" in tribute to football club 1. FC Köln. Team supporters embraced the song with such fervor that the band is now inseparable from the 1. FC Köln culture. Pelzer was the next to exit, and after adding Franz Martin Willizil, Die Höhner expanded to a five-piece with the 1979 introduction of Günter Steinig. After scoring a hit with 1980's "Ich Ben Clown," inevitably accompanied by live performances in clown costumes, the group signed with major label EMI to release the album Ich Bin Ne Räuber, which ascended to number three on the German pop charts.