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Biography Peter Koelewijn


Peter Koelewijn (1942)
Peter Cornelis Koelewijn was born in the city of Eindhoven on December 29th 1940, as the son of a fish-salesman and the last of 5 siblings. From an early age he was taken in byall kinds of music, but especially by the pop-music of the time. Artists like Guy Mitchell, Frankie Laine, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Ray, and, from Holland, the Chico´s and the Kilima Hawaiins. In 1953 he was given his first guitar and immediately began writing songs. Mostly cowboy songs at first but that would soon change.

"First" Peter & his Rockets: from left to the right C. Buchholz, C. Jansen, A. Bagen, H. v. Hoof, P. Koelewijn en P. v.d. Voort (1960)

A few years later Peter felt that he had been struck by lightening when he heard “Long tall Sally” by Little Richard. He knew right there and then that rock & roll was the road for him. That idea only got stronger after hearing records by Elvis, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ritchie Valens but most of all Chuck Berry. But how did he get to hear all those people ? In that time they were not released in Holland and the Dutch radio stations still considered rock & roll as the devils music. The answer is that thousands of American G.I.´s, stationed in Germany, crossed the border each weekend into Eindhoven. And they brought with them all the new releases to play on the local juke-boxes. As a teenager Peter spent hours next to those juke-boxes. And on Saturday morning he listened to the hit-chart on the American Forces Network (A.F.N.). A few years later, still at school, Peter formed his first band with three school pals: Harry van Hoof on piano, Charles Jansen on guitar and Peter van der Voort on drums. Later Claus Buchholz (saxophone) joined the group. After Charles came up with the name The rockets, the name of the band was born. For the first few years, still at school, the group played on every school-party in the city. After graduation, Arnold Bagen became the second sax-player. The boys were ready to breach out to the rest of the country. After graduating from school (HBS = higher education) Peter started as an apprentice journalist at the Eindhovens Dagblad (the local paper) and finished his training in 2 years.

Peter Koelewijn (1960)


With Anneke Grönloh (1960)
A fan of Peter and his Rockets, Toon Wagemans, arranges for the band to audition for Bovema Record Company in Heemstede, Holland. Peter had written a few rock & roll songs, one of which was “Kom van dat dak af”. That last song was, initially, not rehearsed. But in the train from Eindhoven to Heemstede, with guitars, drums and equipment, the song ( that would become the national rock and roll anthem) is rehearsed as an optional extra. Three songs, including the train song, are recorded that day. But then the production is shelved until, a few months later, Co de Kloet, producer of the most successful radio-show “Tijd voor teenagers” (time for teenagers) hears the song and tells the people from Bovema (emi) that they are crazy not to release it. The song is released and after mister De Kloet tells his number one DJ Dick Duster to play the song no less then 3 times during the show, nothing would ever be the same for Peter.


With Johan Cruyff in the GTB studio, The Hague (1969)
With Rob Out (Egbert Douwe) after the recording of "Kom uit de bedstee m´n liefste" (1968)

A little later the group switches company and move to Phonogram ( Philips ). A string of hits is the result. “Janus”, “Marijke”, “Speel die dans”, “Laat me los” and “24.000 kussen”. The Beatles and Stones change the music of the band.Peter van der Voort, Harry van Hoof and Claus Buchholz are replaced by Jeroen Ophoff and Hans Sanders and the band is widely considered the best Dutch that rock has to offer. In the mid-sixties Peter is asked by Phonogram (and subsequently Red Bullet ) to become there in-house producer. An enormous number of hit-records, many of which would become Dutch classics and also written by Peter, see the light. The most remarkable being “ Oei, oei, oei, dat was me weer een loei” by the greatest Dutch soccer player of all times, Johan Cruyff. A few of the others are: “Beestjes” and “ Ikke, ga er eentje pikke” (Ronnie & de Ronnies), “Ik kan geen kikker van de kant af duwen” (Lowland Trio), no 1 hit “Kom uit de bedstee “ ( Egbert Douwe), “You´re the victor” (Q 65), “Ik ben gelukkig zonder jou” and “Paleis met gouden muren” (Connie Vanden bos), “I won´t stand between them “ (Bonnie st.Claire), “Soul Tango” (Casey and the Pressure Group) and the two Mr. Albert Show albums.


With Nico Haak in the Phonogram studio, Hilversum (1972)
Recording "Angeline" in the GTB studio, The Hague (1973)
During the later part of the sixties Koelewijn is also one of the most popular drive-in DJ´s with Radio Luxemburg in Holland, Belgium and Germany. When he resigns at the station in 1970 he reforms the Rockets and starts again as an artist. In 1970 “Kom van dat dak af” is top ten again. A lot of other hits follow, such as: “Mij oh mij”, “Angeline, m´n blonde sex-machine”, “Robbie” and “Veronica sorry”. Resulting in an unprecedented special edition by Muziekkrant Oor ( the Dutch Rolling Stone magazine) in 1972, titled, “Koelewijn behoeft geen krans” (Koelewijn needs no wreath).

As producer/songwriter Peter is again responsible for many smashes as: “ Pappie loop toch niet zo snel” (Herman van Keeken), “Clap your hands and stamp your feet”, “Waikiki man” ,”Dokter Bernard” (Bonnie st. Claire), “Carolientje” (Willeke Alberti), ” De liefde van de man gaat door de maag” (Ria Valk), “Like a locomotion” (Left side), “Margrietje” (Louis Neefs), “Patrick, mon cheri” (Kiki & Pearly), “Rocky” (Don Mercedes) and a couple of hits with Nico Haak as “Foxy Foxtrot” and “Doedelzakke pakkie”.

With Ria Valk and The ("second") Rockets in the TV special "Koelewijn behoeft geen krans", Bunschoten/Spakenburg
Most of the records are released and successful in several countries: “Like a locomotion” is a top 10 in Belgium, France and Brazil, “Patrick, mon cheri” in France , “Clap your hands” in Scandinavia and South Africa. The band Bots is selling more than 500.000 albums in Germany

In 1978, Peter forms his own production company: Born Free ( a Phonogram subsidiary ). The first release is his own album ”Het beste in mij is niet goed genoeg voor jou”. It reaches gold-status and supports 2 hit-records, “Kl 204 (als ik god was )” and “ Je wordt ouder pappa”. The record is still widely regarded as one of the classic Dutch albums of the period and earned Peter an Edison ( the Dutch Grammy ) In that same period Koelewijn is also responsible for the creation of Babe, a 3 girl group. He writes and produces sixteen top 40 records for them. He also writes and produces the most popular Dutch Christmas-song ever “Een heel gelukkig kerstfeest” with artists from the Born Free stable. At the decade's end Peter takes time out from writing, producing, and performing, and tries his luck as a businessman with the forming of an artists booking agency called Rocket Management with partner Ludo Voeten. It starts small but is now one of the biggest agencies in the country. Peter sells his shares in 1995 to Ludo.


On stage (1981)
Duet with Bonnie Tyler in TV show (1984)
In 1981, he is asked to do a live show on the “Count-down live” series, at that moment the most popular live rock tv-show in the land. He writes a new song, “Klap maar in je handen” and arranges the show to be recorded for a live record, “Peter Live”. It´s an incredible success and, both the new song as well as the live version of Kom van dat dak af” reach the top of the charts. The double “Live” album goes gold in four weeks. A new tour with a new Rockets band follows and the band scores hits with new songs like: “De tijger is los”, “Zo lang de moter loopt”, “Ik ben geen jo jo” and “Een hete zomer”. In between all this the producer/songwriter sings in the Stars on 45 a Rod Stewart medley. More successes as writer & producer follow culminating in 1989, for the unprecedented 4th time, hit record “ Kom van dat dak af “. This time in a rap version together with Miker G and DJ Sven. Lets also mention the song he wrote and produced for Curtie and the Boombox: “Black kisses never make you blue”, which reaches no. 88 in the Billboard top 100. Marga Bult, former lead singer of Babe, reach the 5th place in the Eurovision Song Contest with the Koelewijn song and production “Rechtop in de wind”.

TV show with The ("third) Rockets (1986)
More to end the eighties with a bang, Peter is presented with a 10 platinum singles collection by his friend and publisher, Tony Berk, representing more then 10 million Peter Koelewijn copyrights sold.


TV show in Germany, as Gompie (1986)
Golden records in Canada for Helmut Lotti, manager Piet Roelen and producer Peter Koelewijn (1998)
At the beginning of the decade Peter starts producing a string of very successful albums by the duo Grant & Forsyth, all of which will reach gold or platinum status. He writes columns in a newspaper and a book with these stories, (“deksels, we hebben panne) has been published.One of the strangest episodes in his live starts when Peter is asked to participate in the remake, with a twist, of the old Smokie song “Living next door to Alice”, which is renamed “Alice, who the X is Alice”. Peter who for the project names himself Gompie, (after the bar in Nijmegen, Holland, where the “Alice” version was born) scores big all over Europe and even in Canada. Round about that time Peter is asked by Piet Roelen, the manager of the Belgium artist Helmut Lotti to produce the album “Helmut Lotti Goes Classic”. The success of the album is enormous and is followed by seven others, which at this point in time, have sold more than 8.000.000 copies!


Peter Koelewijn (2002)

With the end of his stage days approaching Peter Koelewijn looks for ways to pass along his knowledge and is therefore very pleased when he is asked to become a committee member of various representative organizations being:

  • Conamus, promotion body of Dutch copyright in Holland and abroad
  • Palm, Professional Authors of Light Music
  • Buma/Stemra, Dutch copyright organization
  • Gong, producers organization.

During his whole career , sometimes not so frequently, Peter has been a performing artist so when, in 2002, a reunion concert with the 2nd Rockets (seventies) was a success (and great fun). At the moment the producer/songwriter is writing songs for an upcoming solo album.

In the autumn of 2005 the singer decided to record a DVD with Peter and his Rockets.

He gets the important “Radio 2 Zendtijd Prijs” in 2007 for his importancy for the Dutch music business.

After 25 years (!), Peter Koelewijn (68), released an album with exclusively new songs: “Een gelukkig man” (A happy man). The last time Peter released such an album was with the release of “Diep water” (Deep water) in 1984. In the intermediate years, albums with new material were released, but they were always mixed with hits from his, already, five decades (!) spanning career. “Een gelukkig man” is a mix of love songs, and songs about everyday life events. The everyday stuff of life that has been, and is, the subject of many of his songs.
The album received, even before release, lots of media attention, and raving revues.

The end of 2010, during a grand TV gala the singer/producer/composer received the first “TROS Kompas Oeuvre Prijs” to honor his musical accomplishments in Holland.

In 2011 he participated in eight episodes of the popular TV show “De beste zangers van Nederland” (“Holland’s best singers”).
That same year "Kom van dat dak af" was voted the most popular song in the National Top 100 by viewers of the television station "”.
On November 20th 2011 Peter Koelewijn received the "Blijvend Applaus Prijs" in de Kleine Komedie in Amsterdam.

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