Amsterdam is meant to be a city of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, so what have been the great rock stories to have occurred in this town? Our Top 5 of this month pays homage to some of the great contributions to rock n’ roll – Dutch style.
Amsterdam truly is one of those funny places. Countless celebrities and rock stars find their way here at some point and, generally, many of them go into to the premiere clubs, explore coffee-shops, consume cannabis or get a new tattoo from one of Amsterdam’s famous artists. Many things that would be considered ‘rock n’ roll’ in other countries would not be given much attention here at all. So in compiling a list of the Top 5 Rock and Roll Stories, we wanted to find more than cases of wired up musicians throwing TVs out of hotel windows; we wanted to find some stories and cases that speak of the heart and of nonchalance towards the order of society; of craziness and random odd eventualities that can strike this city and the people in it, and which can truly be described as rock n’ roll – doing it hard, fast, differently and without caring what anybody thinks about any of it.
1. The Death of Herman Brood
In tribute to Herman Brood, it was only necessary that he be put at number one in any regard to Dutch rock n’ roll heritage. Achieving commercial success in the 1970’s as a musician, and later as a painter, his attitude, debauchery-laden approach to life, heavy drug use and general hedonism lent him the reputation as the Netherlands’ greatest Rock n’ Roll star. His suicide, when he jumped from the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton on July 11, 2001, is considered the biggest event to have occurred in Dutch pop culture history.
2. Chet Baker falls out window
The trail-blazing jazz musician of the 1950’s West Coast scene, famous for his voice and trumpet, had enjoyed a steady rock n’ roll life which included success, failure, prison and drugs… and then some more success. In Amsterdam during March of 1988, he was found in the early hours of the morning, dead outside the Prins Hendrik Hotel near Zeedijk, where he had been staying. The death was ruled an accident, as he had apparently just fallen out of the window whilst probably very stoned. A plaque adourns the face of the hotel in commemoration.
3. John & Yoko Bed-in.
Whatever you thought of their antics, they were certainly original in how they used the media attention afforded to them. Their honeymoon in March 1969 involved spending a week in bed at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam for the promotion of peace. They would follow this up with a bed-in in Montreal, before launching their War is Over campaign. Although not particularly rock n’ roll (no televisions out the window or drug overdoses), it would be remiss of us to not include what became one of the 20th century’s enduring images.
4. André Hazes’ life in general
Born in de Pijp, André Haze lived hard and fast and became an integral part of the Dutch cultural landscape. He was a
child-star, before becoming known simply as ‘the singing bartender’, around Amsterdam. He took fame in his stride; his
heavy drinking was widely known and he once famously said that “if it wasn’t for fame, I would be a full-blown alcoholic.” In 2004 he was due to play a farewell concert at Amsterdam ArenA, but tragically suffered two heart attacks and died. The concert became a tribute memorial to him, and was attended by 48,000 and televised nationally.
5. The Lone Raver gets up there!
On the comeback after a 16 year break, The Stone Roses July reunion in Amsterdam didn’t seem to be going so well when
drummer Reni stood up, walked off stage and went home, as soon as their last set had finished. With the crowd getting upset, and frontman Ian Brown abusing his absent drummer, our very own clubs editor, The Lone Raver, promptly (and drunkenly) lifted himself on stage to tell the stage manager he was the replacement drummer. In the chaos, he found himself seated at the kit with sticks in hand before he told them he couldn’t drum to save himself. Rock n’ roll!