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Rob de Nijs

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Rob de Nijs is one of the most well-known Dutch singers of the post-war era. Following the turn of the century his commercial successes were few, but he remained one of the ten most-played Dutch artists on Dutch radio. In 2001, he received the Radio 2 Zendtijd Award -- an award presented to Dutch artists with lasting influence on Dutch music. DJ Frits Spits once called de Nijs "the embodiment of the history of Dutch pop music." Robert de Nijs was born in Amsterdam on December 26, 1942, during World War II. An asthmatic child, he started playing the accordion when he was just eight years old. De Nijs wanted to go to acting school but was too young. Instead, he went to an HBS high school. Barely out of high school, and before he even entered his twenties, de Nijs decided to compete in a talent show with his band Rob de Nijs & the Lords. He won, and the first prize was a recording contract. His first two singles failed to make a dent, but the third single, called "Ritme van de Regen" and released in 1963, became a massive success, selling over 100,000 copies. In that same year de Nijs was the Dutch entry in the Songfestival competition. In 1965, Rob de Nijs & the Lords split up. After a few years as a solo artist, de Nijs retreated from the stage and started working in a circus. He also became co-owner of a few clubs. At the end of 1969, de Nijs returned in the popular eye, this time as an actor. He was first seen in the show Oebele, and from 1971 to 1976 he played the role of Bertram Bierenbroodspot in the popular TV series Kunt U Mij de Weg Naar Hamelen Vertellen, Mijnheer? During these TV years, de Nijs cashed in on his regained popularity and co-wrote an album with text writer Lennaert Nijgh and producer Boudewijn de Groot. In May 1973, de Nijs charted the first of a few of the collaborations, "Jan Klaassen de Trompetter." Other hits included "Zuster Ursula," "Miralle," "Hé Speelman," and "Malle Babbe." The two albums made with Nijgh and de Groot were crowned in 1976, when de Nijs was pronounced most popular Dutch singer by the NIPO. The end of the '70s were the glory years for de Nijs, both critically and commercially. In 1980, de Nijs married Belinda Meulendijk. De Groot had retreated from their working relationship, and when Nijgh followed suit, Meulendijk became de Nijs' principal text writer. Over the course of the '80s and '90s, de Nijs had a prolific output, releasing an album almost every year. In Christmas 1985, de Nijs and Meulendijk scored their biggest success: "Laat Alles Wat Ademt," a typical end-of-the-year peace song that stormed to the number two position. It took de Nijs more than a decade to right that wrong: in 1996, he finally gained a number one song with "Banger Hart" -- his first in 35 years as a recording artist. In late 1996, de Nijs released De Band, de Zanger en Het Meisje for EMI Records. During the '90s and the beginning of the new century, de Nijs toured constantly, both in theaters and in bigger venues. He steered his musical style toward more rock-like territory. In 2000, de Nijs was made a knight, and awards kept coming; in 2002 de Nijs was awarded an Edison Award for his entire oeuvre. Ten years later, in 2006, de Nijs and Meulendijk announced their divorce. Suddenly, de Nijs was without a lyric writer. He recorded a cover version of the evergreen "For Once in My Life" for the soundtrack of the heist movie Dennis P, and his next full-length was a covers album, consisting of translated popular French songs and appropriately titled Chansons (one of the songs was translated by Meulendijk). ~ Philip D. Huff

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26 December 1942 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Years Active:

'60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s