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Beginning his career in the late 1960s as a member of local outfit Les Cruches, Henny spends the early 1970s writing songs for others and recording two himself as Ruby Carmichael. He also works and tours with singer-songwriter Boudewijn de Groot alongside Ernst Jansz, two months his senior.
Henny also finds time to record an album with US producer Tom Salisbury. Paul Santos (released early 1977) and extracted single Lift Me Up Higher become a live-to-regret-experience, and in 1982 Henny confesses that "it still causes me nightmares."
During his work with Boudewijn de Groot, Henny met keyboard-player Ernst Jansz en drummer Johnny Lodewijks; the latter suggested to form a reggae-band. The Rumbones (Rumboon; Dutch alcohol-fuelled chocolate) toured from October 13 to November 12, 1977 and split up immdeiately afterwards. Henny moved on to Sammie America's Gasphetti, recorded demos at his garage and did another tour with Boudewijn. Ernst offers him to join his band Doe Maar but Henny turns it down, questioning the survival prospects of a Dutch-language group playing for fun. In 1980 he changes his tune after ending the relationship with his wife and her two teenage kids; not only does he join Doe Maar, he also delivers the last three songs for the second album, adds the ska/reggae flavour that was largely absent on the predecessor, and designs the green/pink-sleeve.
Skunk is belatedly released in March 1981, 32 Jaar (32 Years) being the lead single and a hit. Follow-up Smoorverliefd (Smitten) misses the top 40, but with the 1982-released Doris Day (a complaint against TV boredom) Doe Maar break through and become key-figures of the New Dutch Wave-explosion. Initially they enjoy their newfound popularity, but six months down the line Henny starts having his doubts: "what makes those teenage-girls fancy a thirtysomething? Is this what I want?" The answer is no, and the first thing he does is quit reading the now predictable fanmail.
In March 1983, by which time the fourth album Virus (4US) is released, Doe Maar announce a six-month publicity-ban (i.e., no interviews and radio-/TV-appearances). This completely backfires as Doe Maar-mania spirals out of control, and it's not only the band who are fed up. At the annual Pinkpop festival, where they move from bottom-act to headliner, they're targeted with apples for selling out to the teen-mags and turning the festival into a glorified children's matinee. Although Henny refuses to give in ("Anyone fancy an apple?") he clearly gets the message; "(Applegate) was a wake-up call; it made us realise that we couldn't go on like this."
In between tours of Belgium and the Netherlands Antilles, Henny records his first Dutch-language solo-album, Geen Ballade' which he releases in March 1984, a few weeks before Doe Maar play two farewell shows for live broadcast.
Instead of embarking on a solo-tour, Henny decides to stretch himself by writing TV and film-scores (album-track Amstel Hotel 13:00 is described in the 2000 Doe Maar-biography as an application letter) and producing for other artists, including Dutch-born Belgian Raymond van het Groenewoud, whose Habba is a fine example of what Doe Maar might have sounded like had they decided to destroy the recordings for the fifth album and start from scratch. Eager to shake off his green/pink past he tells Music Maker magazine in 1985 "you can flush Doris Day down the toilet anytime you like; it's the worst song I ever wrote. Rhyming for rhyming's sake and stuff; and the worst thing of all is that it drew full crowd participation every night." Still, when all ex-Doe Maar-members appear at a benefit-concert with their individual projects they end up doing the inevitable.
From 1986 to 1991 Henny plays ancient tunes like Teddy Bear's Picknick with Magnificent Seven, whose members include singer/advert composer Fay Lovsky and unofficial fifth Doe Maar-member Joost Belinfante.
A new solo-album is in the pipeline but held back by the release of a Best Of-album; the expected Doe Maar-revival never happened, and in early 1992 'Mijn Hart Slaapt Nooit (My Heart Never Sleeps) saw the light of day. As with Geen Ballade the album received minimal promotion. At the end of the year all Doe Maar-members reunited to support 1960s outfit CCC Inc. (featuring Ernst Jansz and Joost Belinfante) at their 25th anniversary concert. Only few people notice.
Doe Maar; the reunion
In 1999, the four-piece rockband Blof (also referred to as the Dutch Counting Crows) spent a whole tour playing a Doe Maar-covers-only set. The band attended the show at the Amsterdam Paradiso and on November 1, 1999 they announced their reunion for one last album and a 25-date tour of the Netherlands and Belgium consisting of eight club shows, a record-breaking 16-night stint at the Ahoy Rotterdam, and a stadium-show at the Antwerp Sportpaleis. Klaar (Done) was released in April 2000 and the band finally gained respect from pop critics who previously criticized them off for singing in Dutch.
In 2008 Henny recorded an album with contemporaries Frank Boeijen (whose Frank Boeijen Groep outlasted Doe Maar by seven years) and Henk Hofstede (frontman of The Nits). Aardige jongens (Nice Guys) was promoted with a theatre-tour that saw them perform tracks from the album as well as individual oldies. The last show, in January 2009, ended on a sour note as Hofstede fell into the orchestra pit.
In 2010 Henny took part in Ali B Op Volle Toeren, a new programme in which young Dutch rappers exchange songs with veteran artists (the latter often writing new lyrics from the concerned parent's point of view). Henny's effort was titled 32 Jaar Later (32 Years Down The Line), a sequel to the song that gave Doe Maar their first top 40-hit back in 1981.
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