04 02 1950 Robert Jan Stips was born in The Hague (Den Haag), The Netherlands.
mother Joke Stips – Wubbels (1906 – 2000)
sister Freke (1936)
sister Hans (1938)
brother Wouter (1944)
the parental home
RJ’sfather Johannes Herminus Stips (1900-1964)was practicing ‘Swedish’ gymnastics and massage. The complete ground floor of the house at the Johannes Camphuisstraat 167 in the Hague was occupied by a gym, originally designed for his father’s gym-clubs and private clients, but many of his clients ‘disappeared’ or died during the second world war. Later on, when RJ’s father was forced to find other work at the Ministry of Education and Culture, it was rented by several schools in the neighbourhood, whose gyms had been destroyed. This gym was obviously one of the reasons why many friends from school came over to play in the Stips’ house. In summertime all kinds of sport tools were lent to the children playing out on the street, while in wintertime the back-garden of the house and the flat roof of the post office next door, were used as a stash room for the Christmas trees that ‘their street’ had conquered on other streets in the neighbourhood, to be burned in great fires on Old & New Years festivities.Robert Jan was not really the type to spend the whole day playing out- or indoor. He was more the curious type of what treasures these little letters in mother’s magazines were hiding for him and so it came that he found great pleasure in discovering the art of reading, just by asking. At the kindergarten and the first years at elementary school he was having the time of his life, learning all these ‘new’ things.
Of course RJ took part in the social life of his school friends and the other kids from the neighbourhood, but he could have a great time alone, in the house playing, trying to read or from time to time climbing in a ‘secret hideaway’ watching the girls of the girl schools that were using the gym downstairs.
All of this changed quite a lot when in RJ was about 5 years old and
1955the grand pianoRJ’s father came home with asurprise: he just had bought a grand pianoin the shop around the corner… This really came as a big surprise to RJ’s mother, too big, one could say, because all she was doing was trying to make ends meet, week after week after week, avoiding the bills of the cokes man and the insurance-man-in-the-leather-coat. This purchase however was done and irrevocable, daddy now was able to play his favourite Mozarts, Beethovens and Chopins, not without merit, on a real instrument: a Grotian Steinweg(the original German branch of the US Steinway family), probably a special offer because built during the war, the material maybe a bit inferior to that of other year’s species.
RJ fell in love with the sound of this enormous new–friend-in-the-house and each time his father played, he was sitting underneaththe grand piano, as if he found himself in a great cathedral with the strings sounding all around.
RJ also had a great experience with the first time hitting the piano keys, spending hours listening to the sound of the strings singing, his ears pressed intensively against the wooden bar above the keys, as to miss nothing of the long, very slowly dying away sounds.So thanks to daddy he had – at a very young age already – met with the attractive world of music, forgot about playing in the street all together and was mostly at home usually in the living room trying to discover the possibilities of this intriguing thing called grand piano. After some months, when Robert Jan was able to hit the keys from underneath, the first attempts for new found melodies came out. A bit later again came the first endless ‘improvisations’ on either white or black keys and it became clear that he and his brother Wouter wanted to learn more about this piano. So when pianoteacher Joly Buriksarrived at the house of the Stips family, she was welcomed by two enthusiastic boys, who played her several simple, home made songs.In the meantime, at elementary school things went smooth, too smooth, maybe: his teacher and parents decided that RJ could skip the class of the second year, being he was too far ahead. This sounded very interesting, but in fact it meant a lot of work in the Christmas Holidays to get at the level of the 3rd class within a few weeks and hard work keeping up with the new class for the rest of the year.1958/9the piano lessonsIn those days elder brother Wouter showed more talent for piano playing than RJ, who was more of an eager and devoted little student. The two of them shared one hour of piano lessons and every Wednesday afternoon before teacher Joly Buriks was about to arrive, Wouter asked RJ to show him how to play that week’s study material, reproducing it surprisingly well, when his lesson started. Later, however he lost interest when talent alone was not enough anymore… Joly Buriks, herself being a pupil of Simon Admiraal at the ‘the Hague Royal Conservatory’ became, as a teacher of great value to Robert Jan, also because of her ability to keep pleasure in playing high in the first place. Also later on, when on several occasions it was quite impossible for the Stips family to pay for her lessons, she insisted on continuing his lessons anyway, to keep a musical future open for RJ.1959
first ‘public appearance’, playing accordion (!):At the van Heutz Primary School(whith headmaster Mr. Verhoeven, father of later film director Paul Verhoeven) it was good tradition to take part at the ’Farewell Evening‘ at the end of the year with the classes that were to leave for high school next year. This was a yearly event, organised and directed byMrs. Nobelwho, year after year, had become an institute within the school.
This particular year there was a particular (small) problem she had to deal with: one of the pupils, a bit fat boy, who was, so to speak, not the school’s greatest hero, had to be given a part in this evening as well. His parents sort of insisted that he should play the accordion, a nice big and expensive one they had recently given him for his birthday…
During rehearsals it appeared to be quite impossible for the poor little dancers to keep pace with his accordion playing so a diplomatic solution needed to be found. Mrs. Nobel had noticed that a certain Robert Jan in one of the lower classes had showed some musical aspiration and asked him if he was familiar with the accordion. This was not really the case, but since sister Hans (the kindergarten sister) had a small student accordion, he tried to play the little dance on it, which came out better than he expected. From that moment on it was decided that he was to play this little dance behind the curtain, with the ‘real’ accordion player play-backing, with his proud parents in the audience…situation at homeAll was not going very smoothly with the marriage of RJ’s parents. His father was not seldom away from home, as well for work as for pleasure, leaving his family behind at home, often including their financial problems.
This was the year in which 10 year old Robert Jan was finishing primary school himself, quite eager to enter the world of high school, especially the gymnasium; RJ had picked up interest for the ancient world like Egypt and Greece, overdrawing pictures of pharaoh graves, hieroglyphs, reading books about Troy and its discoverers and so on…
It seemed he had found his real goal in life: to become an archaeologist. Only some time later, when he read about other archaeological realities like digging in the cold and wet Dutch clay, looking for items that only differed from a stone because someone ever long ago ticked one sharp side off and called it a knife.
RJ was surprised to be invited to accompany the complete ‘F. E. Show’ version 1961 at his old primary school and won the cultural contestat his new school, the Thorbecke High Schoolwith the Arabesque #1of Claude Debussy. This piece was door opening for RJ’s interest in the new harmonies and forms used by the French impressionist composers.
Also, on this same event, it was his first time encounter with a live band in action: the Knickers(?), 4 guys with 3 guitars and a drum kit, playing rock & roll !!
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Moved house – to the Loevensteinlaan in Morgenstond, The Hague – and changed school (Grotius Lyceum). Making a necessarily habit of winning the yearly cultural contests, to rebalance his further mediocre results at school – teachers described his (non)presence as transparent, often floating away.
buying his first albums – vinyl LP’s
So far, RJ had only been able to buy singles (the old fashioned small vinyl records) and appeared to be a real guitar minded consumer: theGolden Earrings(That Day), Pretty Things (Roadrunner),Motions(Wasted Words), Rolling Stones– EP, with The Last Time and Play with Fire (though he thought theBeatleswere maybe better, he did not buy their records, Kinks(All day and all of the Night) and from Mr Tambourine Man on allByrds’ singles were frequenting his turntable. But here it was – probably right after his birthday – the great day arrived: with 25 guilders in his pocket he went off to the record shop to buy his first LP (long-play vinyl record). It took him more than 2 hours in a backroom of the store to decide which LP he would buy for his hard earned money: Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys,Loving Spoonful’sDaydream or the Rhapsody in Blue-American in Paris-Gershwin/Bernstein. After a long long while he went for … Loving Spoonful!.
Arriving at home, his first gramophone player was spreading the unique stereo sound to left and right, but… outwards, so RJ took a screwdriver, took out the speakers and pressed them over his ears, lying on the floor with super head phones on: no need for other drugs than this fantastic stereo-drug!! Soon albums of the Byrdswould follow, Jimy Hendrikx,Kinksand also modern classical music like Penderecki.
After his parentswere divorced in 1959, he saw his father about once a month. RJ was quite disappointed in his father leaving home, but decided to enjoy the benefits of a life without him and moreover with his mother, with whom he got really close, especially when they moved into this new flat in a new built suburb at the Loevesteinlaan, first together with his brother Wouter, who soon left to live in Rotterdam, where he studied arts at the academy.
One of these days, when RJ was doing his daily homework at his Tomado teenager bureau in his room completely decorated with photographs of ao Beatles,Stones,Dylan,Searchers,Animals,Supremes,PJ Proby,Pretty Things, his mum came in with the life changing message that his fathersuddenly had died. Life changing it was because death had never been that close and real until then.
In the practically sence life didn’t change that much, RJ being too young to understand everything that his father had been going through in his generally unhappy life.
his first band from ‘Blubs’ and ‘Provocation’ to ‘Supersister’ …
Music was one of the escape routes to take with a head full of questions, so – after RJ was fully convinced of becoming a pop musician after seeing and experiencing the Pretty Thingsin concert in Scheveningen – he was only too glad when he was invited by Marco Vrolijkto come and play with school band ‘the Blubs’, with the original members:
Arnold Slagter (later:Visser) – (tea box) bass Gerhard Smidt – guitar, clarinet, vocals Marco Vrolijk – drums Robert Jan Stips – piano*, vocals, mouthharp.
* When they rehearsed (on Sundays) at the atticof the house of Marco’s parents (his father then was the Dutch Minister of Culture) RJ played the piano and sang. At most places, however, where they performed, was no piano at all, or hard to amplify with the poor ‘vocal-boxes’ in use then ( PA’s did not yet exist then), so mostly Robert Jan became front mansinger, playing tambourine and mouth harpwhen not climbing into curtains…
TheBlubslater changed their name to :
’Q-Provocation’, later to ‘Provocation’
with new comer guitarist Theo Nijenhuis[later respected journalist (economy) at the NRC news paper] playing in different line ups with all members from the same Grotius – later Segbroek College – Lyceum.
In the same period he was playing the piano for children ballet/operette company ‘Morgenstond’, earning the money for his first Ace Tone organ.
The group was first managed by Bart Spoelstra, who felt they needed someone who knew more about the fast developing new music scene and introduced the band to economy student Dick Zwikker, who took over.
The Provocation playing more and more frequently now with Ron van Eckon bass.
A unique performance with the Provocation (and the children ballet) was the one in the garden of palace Soestdijk, celebrating Queen’s Juliana’s birthday It was breaking news in national and international press:BEAT MUSIC IN PALACE GARDENS !!
times are a’changing…
Sacha van Geestjoins the band on flute. The band gets under influence of alternative and hippie movementin the person of Rob Douw,who turns the school band into an experimental group, with :
Sacha van Geest – ao flute, vocals Ron van Eck – bass Marco Vrolijk – drums Gerhard Smid – guitar, clarinet, vocals Rob Douw – toys, trumpet and vocals Robert Jan Stips – organ, vocals
RJ’s instrumentsnow were a simple Ace Tone organ(1 manual) and a Hohner Pianet,on both instruments he used two effect pedals: wah wah and fuzz.
In these days the band was rehearsing in the building of a club / social activity centre ‘de Experimentele Maatschappij’ = ‘E.M.’, where locking doors was not high on the house-rule list. The Ace Tone organ, earned hard with the ‘ballet money’, got stolen – not insured, not completely paid for, yet…
The rest of the band put their heads (and wallets) together and bought RJ a new (and better) organ : a Farfisa VIP (200?), with two keyboards and a ‘slalom pedal’ as extra feature: the tones could glide to one octave up or down! (something only much later made possible on synthesizers). Combined with (inspired by the sound of Mike Ratledgeof Soft Machine) fuzz, wahwah and an electronic Lesley device, RJ added his easy to recognize very personal keyboard sound to the band.
Following the time spirit, they started to do research into new directions, playing underground and alternative music, performing together with lightshows, action painters, poets and dancers.
The name couldn’t wait to change, either. Rob Douw (and so indirectly RJ as well) were involved with the organisation of what was to be a gigafantastic-spaced-out-event in The Hague, named ‘Sweet OK Supersister’. When the whole thing got cancelled, RJ asked Rob if he could use this name for the group & so it happened: first it became ‘Sweet OK Supersister, later:
SUPERSISTER1968 – 1974 /1999 – 2000
4 of them decided to focus on music only, adopting the name Supersister:
Sacha van Geest, Ron van Eck, Marco Vrolijk and Robert Jan Stips.
RJ left school to go study(classical)pianowith piano professor Simon Admiraalat the Royal Conservatoryin the Hague. What started as a ‘dream come true’ slowly changed into a disillusion, caused by a unbridgeable difference in the approach of music and mentality, in the end winding up ”more like a spy than a pupil “.
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The music and live reputation of Supersister could not stay unnoticed by the Dutch beat–scene. The ‘old’ Supersister also already had been very busy for some time founding a new underground club (meant to become one of the Dutch-hippie-club-chain called ‘Provadya?’) in the middle of the centre of The Hague. Weekly on Sunday nights Supersister was performing their new and old material, altered with (long !) improvisations and jam sessions with other musicians. One of the musicians who frequented as it first was called ‘de Laan’ wasPeter Sjardin, lead singer and idea-man of the in those days well known underground group (with hits like ‘Mother No-Head’) Group 1850. He was pretty much attracted by the radiation of Supersister and informed his manager Hugo Gordijnabout this ‘new phenomenon’ in The Hague City. Together with Hans van Oosterhout, who worked as a producer for Gordijn’s ‘Blossom Records’ label they went to see Supersister performing and soon after they came up with a proposal for a record deal, starting out with a singleto be releasedin spring 1970.
The repertoire of the band in those days existed of chains of songs and ‘non-songs’, called ‘sets’, each of them lasting about 20 or 30 minutes. So a single was to be distilled from this material. Gordijn and Oosterhout had two possibilities in mind, one quite subtile slow part (which appeared to be an only just written new song, with no real lyrics yet) and a quite heavy piece with lots of distorted fuzz bass and organ. It was really hard to choose between them, so during rehearsal (in the Fram , Voorburg) the band tried to make a combination of both pieces, thus creating the unique hybridity of Supersister’s first single ‘She Was Naked‘. In the back seat of the car driving to the gig the next day, lyrics were written, everything with a light hearted tongue in cheek feel to it, because the overall idea about this single recording was one of soft sarcasm: nice for family and friends, but northing was expected to go any further than at.
The actual recording session took place in March 1970, in the GTB studioin The Hague. GTB stood for Geluids Technisch Bureau Bakker, with father and son Bakker in charge. Many successful names like the Sandy Coast,the Motionsand (as usual..) the Golden Earringshad beaten the track to this studio. The band built up their gear in an hour or so, a quick sound check and there they went, with van Oosterhout producing and experienced Eric Bakker behind the 4 track desk. The music was rcorded on stereo 2 track, the vocal seperated on track 3. Then, after a very quick recording of the B-side ‘Spiral Staircase”, a copy of the A-side was made ad hoc and RJ was given a lacker, on which the first official Supersister recording was cut. RJ had to take this track home to rehearse the double tracking of the lead vocal.
As one of the few Dutch groups on the main stage Supersister played at the Kralingen Pop Festival, Rotterdam, the first real big (80.000) continental pop festival.
At the same time Supersister’s first single ‘She was Naked’ became a big summer hit, created by heavy rotation on Radio Veronica, an ‘illegal’ and very popular pirate radio station broadcasting from a ship at the North Sea, the first Dutch station based on pop and rock music, following the fine example of Radio Luxemburg and (Wonderful) Radio London.
The fact that Supersister got on heavy rotation, being the personal ‘hit tip’ of DJ Tom Collins, was probably related to the fact that they signed up with the music edition enterprise of ‘chief’- DJ Willem van Kooten, who was also responsible for breaking the success for a.o. the Golden Earrings, together with his buddy-in-business Fred Haayen, chairman of Polydorat the time. Also he was the one who introduced items like the TOP 40, de Alarmschijf, ‘met stip notering’ to the developing world of Dutch pop music.
After this better–than-the-dream start, the group proved its new status to be right with the release of the first album: ‘Present from Nancy’, produced by Hans van Oosterhout now for major company Polydor, who took over from Blossom from here.
Asecond singlewas recorded and this is maybe the best kept secret of the band. After the unexpected success and all the attention and flattering critics the band had got, they thought everything was possible and with their typical tongue-in-cheek-humor they recorded a sort of bad Elvis imitation, mixed up the titles of A and B-side (‘Fancy Nancy’and‘Gonna Take Easy’ of the single and thought hey could get away with it and score again, naturally. This was not quite the case: people who sincerely believed in Supersisters artistic goal were astonished, DJ’s were disappointed, believing that also Supersister appeared to be a one-day-hit-wonder…
The success of ‘She was naked’ and the promising new sound and approach stepping aside from the beaten tracks of the Dutch ‘Nederbeat’ had created high expectations for this succeeding album – so it was great to see the more than positive reaction from many different sides of the music scene – good press isn’t always a guarantee for good sales, but in this case fans and new-listeners were only too happy with this album and maybe the band in the first place. Considering the circumstances – the album was recorded and remixed in four nights, or rather, mornings, from 24.00 till 6.00 in the Phonogram Studio’sin Hilversum(Honingstraat) *more about this later*, the band was pleased with the result after all.
Supersisternow was really ‘hot’, sharing the nr.1 spot in the pollswith Golden Earring, playing throughout the whole country, especially in clubs and on festivals, and being very popular among student places and high schools, they played on almost every high school party given…, sometimes twice (festivals) a day. One special phenomenon became the ‘Vietnam Festivals’, organised to demonstrate against the US politics and war actions in Vietnam. These festivals became more and more popular and Supersister being one of the first groups to support this form of protest, playing free for the purpose, was asked more and more often, until it became clear that most Vietnam festivals were used to get bands playing free for a paying audience with more a economical than a political motivation, Ss decided to test the integrity of this all by playing special ‘war music’ (some sort of not really agreeable punk avant la lettre, combined with jet fighter sounds and bob-explosions, using their experience in playing CV(=AC)-headache songs in the ‘old’ days…) to remind everyone what this all originally was about.
This kind of actions combined with their musical and lyrical achievements + probably the fact that 3 of the four members wore glasses, got the group a sort of image that was –though not supported by the band – grown in public as ‘the intelligent group’. Everyone in the group sort of smiled this away, but deep down they hated this small minded way of thinking: only because Supersister songs were not about the usual (then already almost) worn out pop & rock cliché’s, they were put in a cage with sticker on the forehead: Watch out! Intelligent!! – , so they decided to give a musical answer to this unasked-for-image by creating ‘the Intelligent Song’ introduced by RJ in a far too long and slow hippie-like speech, the song being full of cliché’s and the lyrics – which were of course also the title – very intelligent indeed: ‘Wow,Wow,Wow’.
Funny enough this song grew out to be the most popular part of Supersister concerts and stayed on their repertoire for years!
Their live reputation was growing, also outside of Holland. People had noticed this stubborn yet successful Dutch group and invited them to come touring in countries like Germany,France,Englandand Italy.
In England it was the Godfather of the British pop & rock scene, DJJohn Peelhimself, who contracted Supersister on his Dandylionlabel. They released their second album combined with ‘She was naked’ in England after the Dutch release of ‘To The Highest Bidder’ *more about this later *
The single ‘A Girl Named You’ reached a place up in the top twenty and this new album got very well received again: the strange and unique discordial situation of an alternative yet commercially successful band was once more confirmed .
Third album ‘Pudding and Gisteren’ also recorded in 1972. The art work was done by RJ’s brother Wouter Stips. As a single ‘Radio’ was released and reached the top twenty, while the title track was written as ballet musicfor choreographer / dancer Frans Vervenneof the Nederlands Dans Theater, Supersister receiving the Edison Award ‘73in the then incredibly famous talk show of Willem (O’) Duys. But this was not exactly the scene Supersister was waiting for… RJ behaved pretty bad in the cliché TV interview about this Edison award, dropped the small but heavy statue very close to Mr. Duys’ toes, and they played the song that was put on the album only as a sick joke :’ Oohwee, I love you baby’. It was this lack of real commercialism combined with the typical sense of humour that kept Supersister away from an international break-out and made the band unique, as well.
Supersister and therewith almost 10 years of cooperation between Marco and RJ, was nearing a natural ending.
RJ, Ron van Eckand road manager Aad Linkwithdrew into houses of the latter two in Zierikzee,spending the summer there writing, forming and rehearsing with a new line up:
Charlie Mariano – alto sax, bass clarinet, nathusvaran Herman van Boeijen – drums and percussion Ron van Eck – bass Robert Jan Stips – keys & vocals
Charlie Mariano– by then in his early 50’s – moved to The Hague, into the house where RJ lived with his former girlfriend Dorien van der Valk, introducing the art of Indian and Asian coocking, thus passing through his broad musical experience as well as his incredible cuisine-bagage. Herman van Boeijenlived in Amsterdam and was in ‘one his phases’ in his life, searching for his real self, setting up lots of theories about new inventions, health food and drugs…
The new band took off for Englandto the by then famous Manor Studio’s, where they met with producer Georgio Gomelsky and engineer Simon Heyworthto record the fourth Supersister album: ‘Iskander’.
Expectations were high, again, especially now with the forced renewal and ‘bigger’ names involved, Charlie Mariano being a living legend in the world of jazz, while Georgio Gomelsky was a well-respected producer, from his work with a.o. the early Rolling Stones,artists like Julie Driscolland Brian Auger(This Wheel’s on Fire) and the direct connection between him and Supersister: the French group ‘Magma’, the totally unique group with their own language and musical approach, designed by drummer Christian Vander.
The atmosphere was different from the earlier recordings with the idea of a conceptual album, the change of style, with more visions and opinions than before while recording, made Robert Jan’s position less that of a natural, intuitive musical leader. Until then, for instance he had always considered his singing as a neutral addition to the music of Supersister, not approaching his vocal parts pretending to be a singer, but more that of one of the instruments used to reach the right and typical balance and radiation of Supersister music.
This time everything was much more serious and before recording quite some discussions were held, which didn’t improve the atmosphere for spontaneous flashes or relativating additions.
So it happened for instance that when recording the vocal of ‘Bagoas’, Georgio Gomelsky had a totally different view on how the vocal should sound and be sung, very different from what RJ had in mind – GG was convinced that it really should be ‘sung’ anyway much stronger than the mean whisper/talking effect RJ was after, considering the atmosphere of and story behind song and lyrics. RJ felt the typical Supersister ingredients of experimenting and do-it–your-very-own-but-special-way were about to be replaced by the more ‘normal’ and ‘proven-to-be-right’ manner of working. By the time this ‘Bagoas’ discussion reached its heights, RJ felt he was about to loose his artistic reason for being there, felt that this was not going to be a true Supersister record this way. At a certain moment he couldn’t keep it up anymore, left the studio and locked himself up in his room, crying from anger and regret.
The new line up proved to be a great live act with great musicianship – still the audience felt a bit homesick for the earlier line up and material. After about a year Charlie Marianoannounced he couldn’t combine Supersister with all the other work he was offered anymore. He kept on living in The Hague, since the new found friendship was not in question. Replacing him was not an easy thing to do, first his ‘position’ in the band was deputised by an alternating group of people, also to see whatever would be possible, among them were for instance guitarist and ‘friend-of-the-band’John Schuursma, saxplayer and ex-colleague of Herman van Boeijen in ‘Panda’ : Rob Kruisman, also one of Holland’s top sax players Fred Leeflangmade his entry but finally his main follower-up was somebody from a group that all Supersister members always had admired a lot: alto sax player Mr.Elton Deanfrom Soft Machine. This was great news and also sort of confirming again for the Dutch press and audience that Supersister was taken seriously in the international music scene.
Yet all these changes left their scars on the band, it had been impossible to create and rehearse enough new material with these changing line ups for a new album, so – and also by influence of Elton Dean’s – a Supersister concert became more and more free and improvised and the pop group slowly changedinto a fusion/rock/free jazzband; interesting for the musicians, maybe, but finally not for RJ, who felt more at home in the pop-culture, didn’t recognize himself anymore as the musician he wanted to be and Supersister as he would liked to have seen it. The band decomposedquite quickly and he was ready for take off, looking out for a surprising challenge, which he found almost the next day when Cesar Zuiderwijkpaid him a visit with the question if he would like to join forces with Golden Earring, to strengthen and enrich their sound on their next coast to coast USA tour starting …10 days later and, who knows more..?!
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Golden Earring 1974/5
** under construction **
This section of the biography will be completely different once the works of Jeroen Raswill be ready and published here. Being archaeologist by profession, he will dig up and give details about RJ’s years with the Earring as never before..!
RJ joines Golden Earringsurprising friend and fiend. First as an ‘extra’ musician, later as a member of the group, recording albums ‘Switch’ and ‘To the Hilt’ Touring the USAcoast to coast, Europeand UK.
was also the year in which the NITSwere founded.
Original members: Henk Hofstede, Rob Kloet, Michiel Peters and Alex Roelofs.
Posthumous Supersister album ‘Spiral Staircase’with Sacha van Geest, produced by Hans van Oosterhout.
Records his first solo album ‘Nevergreens’with ‘Stars & Stips’ : Bertus Borgers, Cesar Zuiderwijk and Rinus Gerritsen.
Receives the Dutch Export Award(Export Prijs) with Golden Earring and a goldcopy of compilation album‘Golden Earring’.
SWEET d’BUSTER1976 / 1978
while on tour with Golden Earring in the USA, RJ met Bertus Borgers(again) where they not only became friends but also they came to the agreement that after Golden Earring they would at least pay contribution to each others solo albums. Bertus did so on Robert Jan’s Nevergreens(vocals and lots of saxes) together with Cesarand Rinus. So after some time he was already quite far with recording his own solo album called Sweet d’Buster, when Robert Jan was back in Holland and invited to come and dub some keyboard and synthesizer in the studio that was reckoned to be one of Holland top studio’s at the time, the Soundpush Studioin Blaricum. The production was in hands of Jan Schuurman(RJ knew Jan already from his engineer work for Supersisteralbums) who had become the most wanted engineer in the Netherlands those days. The musicians Bertus had been rehearsing and recording with were the famous rhythm ‘tandem’ Herman Deinumon bass and Hans Lafailleon drums, both quite well known from their earlier work with ao Cuby and the Blizzards, newcomer guitarist Paul Smeenk, who also added vocals and contribution as co-writer, and last but not least Bertus’ soul mate and co-writer sofar Broer Boogaert. When the recordings were finished and RJ also had added his parts, everyone became really enthusiastic about the results. Everyone (except for Broer B., who was not in for touring etc.) thought this album would be a perfect base to join together as a band. They also insisted that Robert Jan should take part in it, since he was right in the middle of leaving Golden Earring, anyway…
RJ wanted some more time to consider and in the meantime the other members signed a (very wrong) contract with their newfound sponsor/manager Ralph van der Waart van Gulik, a newcomer in the ‘business’ with some awkward ideas about how to handle the affairs and career of a Rock and Roll – or in this case rather Rhythm and Blues Band… His main weapon was the budget he apparently had got from his friend Mr. Goldschmeding who owned the biggest job-trading company in Holland: Randstad.
So, with nothing but mountains of pure gold in the future ahead, the new born band Sweet d’Buster – after the album that caused their foundation, signed up for Ralph vd Waart’s management and record label with the visionary name ‘Bubble Records’ on a probably very cosy and unbusiness-like evening with probably ‘some booze around’ according to the various signatures placed on various spots on various pages, with sometimes strange names between them, to name just one: Elvis !
RJS did join the band, but only after a long procedure of saving the group from their liaison with Ralph van der Waart van Gulik, andreplacinghim by Aad Link, this being his first /official ‘managership’in his already long corporation with Robert Jan.
The band had not the dream-start that was expected with the release of the album ‘Sweet d’Buster’ and it’s single ‘One Way or Another’.
it was really back to zero: renting hotelrooms for 2 and using them with 8 or more persons, the whole band mostly stayed at either Bertus’ place in Eindhoven, RJ’s place in Den Haag or Herman’s and Hans’ in Kampen/Zwolle, depending in which part of Holland the concert had taken place. If these addresses didn’t suit the occasion, there was of course always the possibility of finding yourself a girlfriend who could sponsor the band with free hospitality…In other words, this was back to rock and roll, drugs and drinks included. After a gig RJ and Hans often functioned as free taxi drivers, waiting for the rest of the band to roll into their cars when bars really closed down, to drive them zigzagging through Holland by night – or in the morning, RJ for a long time in an old Volkswagen Variant, second gear missing, Hans had a better car, because in his spare time he tried to earn the real money for wife and kids in second hand car business.
After this slow and tough startthe reputation of the band grew and grew, ending up gathering a tremendous live reputation in club and theatre circuit. Their 2nd album ‘Friction’– co-produced by Robin Freemanat the Relightstudio’sdid well, especially when Herman Brood(in those days living in the same house in the Hague with Robert Jan and RJ’s ex girlfriend Dorien van der Valk, who was also responsible for the art work on many album covers at the time) scored a hit recordwith his version of the Sweet d’Buster song of ‘Still Believe’.
TheinstrumentsRJ used with Sweet d’Buster were:
Yamaha CP70 Fender Rhodes Wurlitzer el piano WLM organ (Finnish ‘Hammond’) Minimoog
Sweet d’Buster’s most successful album however was the third one, the live recorded ‘Gigs’, sadly enough also the last one in this original line up, since RJ had already explained his friends a year before that he would be going to leave the group but not after suggesting to make this live album as a witness for what they had achieved together.
It was purely that RJ felt the urge to start his own new group with hopefully a more renewing kind of music, or anyway, more ‘Stips-like’. Also it would be good to be able to pay more attention to his successful work as a producer.
1976/7producing GRUPPO SPORTIVO
When still playing in Sweet d’Buster, RJ took over the production ofGruppo Sportivofrom Barry Hay. The group became immensely popular, big hit successeswith singles before and from (‘Rock and Roll‘,‘Hey Girl’, ‘Disco Really Made It’) their first two albums: ‘Ten Mistakes’, sold over 50.000copies, good for gold, while the second one ‘Back to ’78‘ passingover the 100.000: platinum. Also outside Holland the very fresh sounding group wasvery well received, their line up then was:
Hans Vandenburg vocals, guitars and writing Meike Touw backing vocals Josee van Iersel backing vocals Peter Calicher 2nd idea-man,keyboards, vocals Max Mollinger drums Eric Wehrmeyer bass
Right after, or rather, in the middle of this enormous success, Hans Vandenburgdecided to record a solo albumwith guests – ‘Buddy Odor is a Gas’ – rather than continuing with Gruppo Sportivo. This was anunexpectedand a not acceptedmove in circles of DJ’s. press and other pop bobo’s. This was the main reason for the not successful results of album and tour of theBuddy Odor Stop, probably if the same material had been released as a new Gruppo album, success would have continued smoothly…
Gruppo Sportivo reunitedlater on, recorded lots of albums of which RJ produced ‘Pop Goes the Brain’, ‘Rhythmisaconstantbeat’ and much later ‘The Opposite’ but the real magic did not reappear.
Bart & Jan 1978 –
When Robert Jan and his girlfriend Dorien van der Valk left the room they had shared at Dorien’s elderly home (1972/3), a young guy studying Dutch in Leiden started to rent this room. He soon (also) got on very well with his landlady Mrs.van der Valk and was soon enough introduced to RJ, not in last place to give comment to his latest products: he was a punk poet.
Bart Chabotbecame a popular guest at their new home in de van der Woertstraat – he gave up studying pretty soon – where Bart also met regular visitors and friends like Cesar Zuiderwijk& his ex Inge van Iersel(sister of Gruppo Sportivo singer Josée van Iersel) who lived at RJ and Dorien’s place for a year, Barry Hay& Diana,Charlie Mariano(also still living there), Jasper van ‘t Hof,Eelco and Ria Gelling– Diepeveenwith whom RJ later would have a relationship, Herman Brood–who sort of lived there with Dorien for quite a while ,incl.manager‘coach’ Koos and Herman’s band the Wild Romance, of course and apart from later the whole Sweet d’Buster band, who often stayed over night in the Hague, also people like photographerAnton Corbijn, who lived in the Hague shortly, before making his great escape to England.
On one of the (brain)stormy nights at this house, RJsuggested to put some of Bart’s poems on music, or rather, in a sort of rough edged soundscape. RJ then had this 4 track machine, which was for that time inviting enough to start up experiments like that. When Anton Corbijnheard about the idea, he said he would take care of the photographs to be taken, also providing the unsurpassed name for the new-born duo: Bart &Jan.
Dorien van der Valkwas ready (again) to do the art-work: the team was there to do ‘it’. Bart en Jan bought some more studio gear and recording and experimenting started. After a few weeks interesting tapes had seen the light for two songs especially, so they decided to go and finish these two songs as a single. The material was edited and mixed at theArnold Muhren Studio– Aad Linkengineering – in one day (and night, of course).
TheTorso Labelwas found to take care of the distribution so soon friend and fiend in Holland were surprised with the absurd madness of ‘ De Dag dat De Derde Wereldoorlog Ook Niet Geheel Onopgemerkt Aan Nederland Voorbij Ging’ with B-side ‘Messerschmidt Parade’, a hilaric hard-core classic avant la lettre,
Huba de Graaff – violin, keyboards, vocals Henk Wijtman – drums, percussion Dick Schulte –Nordholt – bass Robert Jan Stips – vocals and keyboards
RJ gets his own group together, no big names or fully experienced colleagues. In an amazing short period the new group recorded ‘Zig Zag’ and toured in Holland for a year. RJ ‘s production work kept on growing, three recording sessions in a row : Transisters ‘Zig Zag’, Hans Vandenburgs ‘Buddy Odor is a Gas’ and… the first recording session with a new, promising group from Amsterdam :
THE NITS1979 / 1996 / / 2003 / …
Alex Roelofs – bas Michiel Peters – vocals, guitar Henk Hofstede – vocals, keyboards, guitar Rob Kloet – drums, percussion
In this first session 4 songs were recorded, the main purpose was to get 1 or rather , 2 A and B sides for at least one successful single, to get the name NITSinto the books of Dutch pop. The songs recorded were : The Young Reporter,Harrow’s Accident,Umbrellaand Tutti Ragazzi
Aad Link andRJfounded a new agencyin the Hague ‘Rock in Waterland’ and contacted the Nits for a recording contract with CBS.Tutti Ragazzi– with RJ as producer – was their first hit single, followed by their first (CBS) album Tent– produced by the Nits. Aad and RJ also invited John van Vueren, who was booking and managing several bands, one of them being Gruppo Sportivo, to join forces so he also became part of Rock in Waterland.
* under construction *
second album ‘New Flat’, co-produced by RJ
singles : New Flat, Holiday on Ice,Bobby Solo.
RJ contributes to the live tour of Danny Lademacher’s Innersleeve
second solo album : U.P.
with cover photography by Anton Corbijnand art work by Dorien van der Valk.
(Also) recorded at the Arnold Muhren Studioin Volendam. This location was, historically seen, not a logical one: in Supersister days Volendam, hometown of many bands and artists in the more commercial genre like BZN and the Cats, had never been a Supersister-minded place, as a matter of fact they played there only once, the venue almost empty… But this time RJ found a warm welcome in the studio where he had recorded the Nits’ New Flat and since then had become friends with the Arnold Muhren family, together withAad Link,this time functioning (again) as sound engineer. In his other function – that of managerof Sweet d’Buster he was responsible for the fact that Robert Jan was the proud owner of one of the only two or three polyphonic synthesizerspresent in the Netherlands those days: while in the USA, recording ‘Shot into the Blue’ with Sweet d’Buster’s new line up (with Pierre van der Lindenon drums and Jons Pistooron keyboards), he called RJ and suggested to bring such a polyphonic over to Holland: “which one shall I take? One is called ‘ Prophet‘ and the other one ‘Oberheim’ “ RJ chose intuitively for the Oberheim and so it came that a few weeks later Aad arrived at RJ’s place with the brand new OBXkeyboard. With his new toy at home, RJ spent his days and nights designing sounds, playing with them, writing and recording on his Teac 4 track machine together with one of the firstdrum machines ever – the ‘Dr Rhythm‘.(>> further details see ‘U.P.’ = under construction)
Meanwhile, the NITSrecorded their third album ‘Work’, together with Aad Link, engineering at the Arnold Muhren studio.
RJproduces Gruppo Sportivo album’Pop Goes the Brain’
1982RJ joins the NITS
at first replacing bass player Alex Roelofs who left just before their second German tour.
hit single : Red Tape
RJ now full Nits member.
Third album: Omsk, all songs recorded at the ‘DMC – Dutch Music Centre’ studio, engineered/co-produced by John Solleveld additional dubs at the Arnold Muhren Studio.
Hit single : Nescio both album and single Dutch top 10.
Nits receive their first Edison Award for ‘Omsk’.
later that same year the mini album ‘Kilo’was recorded at the Wisseloord Studio, engineered by Emile Elsen.
single : Sketches of Spain.(top 20)
lots of concerts in Holland, introducing the first official theatre tour for a Dutch pop group ever.
Korg Polysix, later Polyseven, the Yamaha‘grand piano’ CP70+ the Variophone(breath-controlled device for brass and woodwind sounds), laterOberheim OBX[>> Elka(!)]
1984 * under construction *
album : Adieu Sweet Bahnhof
touringEuropemore frequently, Michiel Peters leavesthe group.
1985 * under construction *
foundingnew agency and studio with Aad Link:Buro GeluidsManipulatie – BGM.
Boughtfirst ‘PPG’ sampler and directed a cartoon-seriesdubbing/translating project ‘Ferdy de Mier‘ for the new studio together with Peter Calicher (keyboard player Gruppo Sportivo) and (Gruppo singer) Meike Touw.
Radio Freedom Gala,Carré A’dam. First encounter on stage with Freek de Jonge.
1986 * under construction *
NITStrio (Rob, Henk & RJ) record new album:HENK.
1987 * under construction * new NITS album ’In the Dutch Mountains’ (recorded on two track). Album & single(in the dutch mountains) top 10,European break through.
Joke Geraets–bass and Petra Lugtenburg– vocals, join the group.
NITS receive their second Edison Awardfor ‘ITDM’.
1988 * under construction *
hit single ‘J.O.S. Days’
Henk, Rob, Joke and RJrecord the succesfull mini album ‘the Hat’ (top 11) with two hit singles ‘ The Dream andThe Train.
NITSreceive their third Edison Awardfor The Hat.
Petra leavesthe group.
RJmixes Gruppo Sportivo single ‘Mexican Radio’
Nitsdouble live album ‘Urk’ (platinum), (single Adieu , Sweet Bahnhof)
Nits receive their fourth (RJ’s fifth..)Edison Award for Urk.
NITS receive Gouden Harp (Conamus) for their complete oeuvre so far – with an uninspired (for a man with such a talent) speech of Gerrit den Braberand a real Dutch street organ playing Adieu sweet Bahnhof, a nice present from Sony Holland.
Also NITS received the BV Popprijs,for the latter an amount of money was included, something like 10.000 guilders – quite exceptional for an award in those days.
Since the Nits were touring in Germany on the night that the award was to be handed out, there was a discussion between the organisation and the band about the way this should be solved. The Award committee insisted on the fact that the band should be present, so finally was agreed that the band and Aad would get transportation from Germany to Amsterdam.
So it happened that right after their gig that night, still sweating and all, they went airstrip-bound with police escort, straight into the airplane and after landing at Schiphol airport, straight into these Peter Stuyvesant four wheel drives off to the Amsterdam venue where all was happening, to find out that the champaign and beer in their dressing room had been consumed by another group (years later de Dijk explained…) and after all festivities, interviews and photographs taken with and to the benefit of the awarding organisation, the by that time worn out band was also told that the money that was connected to the award had been spend on the transport and airplane tickets !! Quite typical for the way Dutch show business works…
RJ produced, arranged and mixed Gruppo Sportivo’s ‘Sucker of the Century’
After more than 3 years Joke Geraetsdecided to leave the Nits, mainly because of a muscle-problem-disease (MS) and because she felt her position in the band was not prospering the way she felt it should. She was told to stop playing bass for a while, anyway. After having a hard time to accept this quite drastical turn in her life something she was able to use the new situation for reconsidering her musical goal in life, as well.
Later she started studying direction for choir and until this day (dd aug.2004) she’s practicing her new profession with success and lots of pleasure.
new album:Giant Normal Dwarf, recorded by the trioHenk, Rob, and Robert Jan.
live single : ‘Home Before Dark’
Monique Olivier and Robert Jan get married
M&RJ marry in the country where they had found their love four years earlier, beautiful Scotland.
CD + tour : ’Ting’
Hjuvi – A Rhapsody in Time
NITS with the Radio Symphony Orchestra
* see the HJUVI special in Nits Torni *
1993 * under construction *
CD + tour : ‘dAdAdA’
After so many years working and creating together, RJ felt that NITS were loosing a bit of their extra ordinary uniqueness, something quite logical when a group of people has been together organising, rehearsing, recording, performing, touring in cars, trains, airports, dressing rooms, restaurants and hotel rooms for all together over 14 years (more than 20 then for Henk, Rob, Paul and Tom). Not only the artistic landscape was sliding a bit, personal interests and demands began to play their part and sometimes reached the point of hard negotiations wherein old agreements were overruled as not acceptable anymore for one side, the forced results of which however feeling injurious and hard to accept for the other…
All together, Nits were not on that high spirited level they should be and combined with the curiosity of what other new experiences he might be missing otherwise, Robert Jan took the (hard) decision to leaveand told the other Nits more than half a year before so that everything could be dealt with without stress and still have a good last period together, hoping in the end this would give a push to Nits’ as well his own creative energy.
Thefinal concertwas at the Uitmarkt on the Dam, in the heart of Amsterdam, broadcasted live by national television, with Freek de Jonge and the Finish shouting quire as special guests. The atmosphere was a bit tense, not the usual atmosphere at Nits concerts – maybe there was one typical fact to describe the situation: during these almost 15 years the Nits were always the first to celebrate or mark special moments with a toast of some celebratory bubbling liquid of some sort, or otherwise record company Sony would have done so on lesser occasions than this, but this time the fridge in the dressing room was and stayed empty…
The attention people gave to Robert Jan’s departure did overshadow the other things that were happening, Aad Link also stoppedhis activities (booking and managing) for the Nits, so did Martin Bakker, who joined RJ’s new group ‘STIPS’.
So Nits decided to take long break next year, which meant that Peter Meurisconsequently left as well, while Henk, Rob and Paul waited for things to calm down and before making further plans.
Robert Jan already had been working on a new CD, in fact a new CD with re-recordedand re-played ‘best of collection’ from various periods of his musical life so far.
Togetherwith Martin and his brother Roy Bakker on drumsRJ recorded these songs in the Lagune Studioof George Kooymansin Belgium with engineer/co-producer John Sonneveld, spring 1995. It was a matter of finishing the remixes, next year the STIPSband would start touring in Holland. CD and tourwere named after each other: ‘Egotrip’. ….
NITS, STIPS, FREEK de JONGE & STIPS
NITS : jan : NITS Luxemburg, D – Karlsruhe, Austria – Vienna feb march may : NL
may : TV special item about RJ inNOVA (Tonko Dop)
RJ writes the strings arrangements for Golden Earring album ‘LoveSweat’
june: first rehearsals ‘STIPS’ trio, Martin Bakker– bass,
Roy Bakker– drums,
RJS– keys & vocals,
july:NITSplay Canada, Readingand Bern
august 25 : Last NITS concertwithRobert Jan, Martin Bakker andPeter Meuris also leavethe Nits. This concert took placeon the Dam-square in Amsterdam and was broadcasted ontelevision nationwide, withguest appearances of Freek de Jonge and the Finish shouting choir.
RJ writes songs to lyrics of Freek de Jonge for the show they would play together the season, including 6 weeks in the famous Carré theater in Amsterdam : ‘Gemeengoed’ :a vast Dutch tourand CD, from which the single ‘Leven na de Dood’reached the top positionin the Dutch charts: RJ’s first(and so far only) No 1 !
the STIPS group also played the 2 Meter-Session with radio DJ Jan Douwe Kroeske andLeo Blokhuis, and the most popular TV Program ‘Spijkers met Koppen’ a program of and with former radio DJ Jack Spijkerman.
sept : STIPS plays a small Dutch Canterbury festival in Harlingen (Friesland)
* under construction *
Rapsodia – live in Paradiso, Amsterdam with Freek de Jonge and STIPS, line up:
Roy Bakker – drums Norbert Sollewijn Gelpke – bass Mark Boon – guitar / vocal RJS – keys / vocal
* under construction *
RJ’s solo CD : Greyhound, on tour with Mark Boon– guitar and Judith Sijp– violoncello.
* under construction *
Dick Zwikkerwho had started as manager of Supersisterand through the years had become tax advisor of almost everyone involved with Dutch pop and other music suddenly died of a heart attack. This really struck all Supersister members so much that they immediately decided to break with the silent rule that they would never play together again, to keep the ‘legend’ as it was. So after one quick rehearsal at close friend Cesar Zuiderwijk’splace – who also joined in on conga’s – they played a short semi acoustic set in the church in Noordwijkerhout where the sad mass had come together to pay their last tribute to this enormously kind man who had been so involved in so many lives and friendships. First RJ started with variations on different Supersister themes on the church organ while everyone came in – this took much longer than expected, so RJ had to seek themes from every corner from the past to fill the time. After many speeches (among them also Bart Chabot, showing he has his heart at the right place)
Supersister and Cesar did a special version in Dutch for Dick of RJ’s ‘Still Not Afraid’ and as a last tribute – of course – ‘She Was Naked’… a very emotional moment, and a well ment effort to try and support his wife Ria and his three children in these difficult times.
Freek de Jonge : de Grens: 10 different (TV & theatre) new shows, made for VPRO television , RJ taking care of all the music involved.
* under construction *
1999 / 2000
In the Hagueis a big Rembrandt Exhibition in the Mauritshuis. A bit further on, in a magnificent old banking building on the corner of Kneuterdijk and Hofvijver in the historical centre of ‘residence’ The Hague a big alternative exhibitionis held, organised by two artist-duo’s Marcello and Els& Jossipwho invited some 20 contemporary artiststo participate by delivering one or more pieces that one way or another were connected to the title and theme of the exhibition:Rembrandt 2000.
RJwas asked to contribute the ‘live’ musicfor this exhibition, the music he made sounded at several places in the imposing buildingpermanently with the special effectsappearing randomly in the centre hall. The material used for this project also resulted in the CD ‘Rembrandt 2000’.
At the end of the summer Joke Stips, Robert Jan ‘s mother died at the age of 94. For RJ she has always been a good mate, mother and father in one. Without her support through thick and thin this bio would have been a very different one, or not worth writing down at all.
Out of the blue an e-mail arrived in Aad Link’s Inbox from the ProgFest(Festival for Progressive Rock) Los Angeleswith the question if Supersisterstill did exist and if so, if they would be willing to give their American fans a real good time to perform at this festival in LA October this year.
Of course Supersister did not existat all anymore, but since their emotional performance at Dick Zwikkers funeral the idea had lingered on in the back of their heads; this forced reunion had felt so much better than expected, even with such a sad cause… So they answered that they certainly were pleased with the invitationand would like to come over and play, but first they wanted to do a ‘quality test’ of at least two rehearsals to see if the level of playing was still worth all the trouble (and high enough to ‘live up to the legend’), after 27 years of not playing at all this seemed not a very unlogical doubt…
The enthusiasm was there anyway, this was a chance to bring a dear piece of the past back to life again! Marcobought a complete new drum kit, Sachapicked up his old flute and also bought a new one, Ronfound his old (or at least Aad found it for him…) 6 string Fender bass guitar (at George Kooyman’s place in Belgium(!) while RJspent days on recording some 400 samples of old Farfisa and Hohner instruments that he still could find adding and or programming fuzz boxes and wah wah’s
Rehearsals were held in Sacha’s office building – he ran a design/communication company with quite some personnel – and it appeared to be great fun to hear the Supersister music come alive again, while watching the same but older faces of 4 friends producing it, after a break of some 27 years! In fact it was quite amazing how soon the band sounded like before, or maybe even better ..? Anyway, after one rehearsal it was clear that the answer for Los Angeles was positive, very positive indeed.
During the months in between things got organised again, Aad Link enthusiastically joined in at the project, taking over – more than – Dick Zwikker’s tasks (…how he would have loved to share the experience! ) and with several members of the old crewcame back on the nest, like Bob Strang(at this time a high ranked tax inspector) and Kees Westendorp( sub manager of one of the biggest PA system rental companies of Holland, Ampco) – and together with ‘newcomer’ light designer Gert Jan SchroederSupersister was complete and ready to take off for LA.
The visit to LA was one full of big surprises. Gladly enough video director Marcel de Vré– also fan from the first hour – had organised his assistant Anja Hoffand cameraman Rogier de Boerto join him on the Supersister 2000 trip and to make a documentaryabout this unique event. More about this later…and on the ‘Sweet OK Supersister‘DVD‘!
Bart en Jan go House with DJ Ardy B.!!
* under construction *
MoreSupersister concerts in Tilburg(013), Groningen(Oosterpoort), the live recordingat the Paradiso in Amsterdam, the last concerts in The Hague (Kon. Schouwburg).
Release of double live album ‘Supersisterious’.
Sacha van Geest all of a sudden died of an hart attack while on holidays on Malta. A real shock to everyone, RJ felt they lost a rare chance on gaining back an old and essential friendship forever.
(see Sacha special in Supersister Tower– Stips City)
NITS ‘1974’ CD & TOUR
In the beginning of 2003 RJ was invited to join in with a NITS 30-yearsanniversary tour; the original idea was to get everyone together who ever played with NITS. In reality, this was practically impossible: RJ winded up to be the only guest present. An attempt to record some additional songs for a CD that NITS had been working on already went very smooth (like in the good ol’days) so soon it was decided to celebrate the past with a fresh new CD entitled: ‘1974’, released in October 2003.
NITS went on a vast tour from Oct.’03 till Aug. ’04 and since Arwen Linnemanjust had given birth to her son, the new NITS line up was:
Henk Hofstede vocals, guitar, banjo Rob Kloet drums, samples & percussion Laetitia van Krieken keyboards, violin, vocals Robert Jan Stips keyboards, vocals
In Januari NITS appear at the 7-nights-mega-concert of ‘Vrienden van Amstel’ at the Ahoy, Rotterdam as special guest with Di-rect.
RJ also playing the opening piano act, with later accompanying Willeke Alberti.
In March Henk Hofstedeand Robert Janappear also as special guest at the Ahoyconcert of BLØF.
NITS ’1974’- tour
This whole tour and also the foreign releases of the album was possible due to the fact that former manager Aad Linkhad also re-joined NITS forces again, his efforts were resulting inmore concerts and tours abroad: apart from the already ‘conquered’ Nits-territories like France,Belgium, Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and (the French speaking part of) Canada, new places like Spain (Barcelona) and (the English speaking) Winnipeg Canada appeared on the Nits tour schedules this year’s summer.
In Holland this new NITS episode was concluded with the appearance on the biggest free festival in Europe, Parkpop in RJ’s hometown The Hague, with Di-rect’s tim Akkerman as special guest.
Alive DVD of this 1974 touralready had been recorded at the end of the Dutch tour in May at the Paradiso, Amsterdam, released fall ’04.
De Vergrijzing – Freek de Jonge
On Freek’s 60th birthdayat the end of August 2004, a complete different episode started: an immense project called ‘de Vergrijzing’, a theatre/television marathon contending15 weekly broadcastings of 55-minutes complete theatre programs, each one freshly created and performed in the week before the – VPRO – broadcasting weekly on Sunday.
For RJ every Sunday and Monday was song writing and music/sound designing time for next week’s episode. While on Mondays at the Compagnie Theatre in Amsterdam the carpenter/ décor designing-team Peter de Bruin and Koos Leeuwenburgh started building the set with Freek – writing new texts and lyrics continuously – and Hella de Jonge present – responsible for coordination, light and stage design – giving as much as possible information about the what’s, where’s and why’s about the stories and plots as far as known at that time but anyway used the next day, because on Tuesday night the weekly premiereof the new programme–in-progress would take place at 20.15 sharp, when sound engineer René Paymans would start RJ’s leader music for de Vergrijzing, Tom Telman and Hellalet their first light shine on the new décor, Freek taking his entrance applause, RJ taking position to provide the live music to something yet unknown, but already in progress on stage.
During the week the program got shaped and worked on in every discipline, with mostly on Friday night already a surprising result. On Saturday the camera crew of Jan en Paul Schuurman– The Van – came in and the last obstacle was to be taken – the one time-no dubs-no way back live recording of this week’s episode, the tapes were taken home by co-director Rimko Haanstra who timed and checked the recording overnight, the next Sunday morning the editing and mixing session started at the Van in Spakenburg, with Hella present and Freek already working on the next one, providing RJ with song lyrics and or directions for the music for the program-to-be.
This went on every week from the last day of August till December, more than 15 weeks with two times a small ‘break’ caused by different programming by the VPRO, providing a little more space to the shooting of the movie ‘de Kerst van een Clown’that was going on in between, which was planned as the final episode of de Vergrijzing, broadcasted on Christmas Eve 2004.
Not yet fully recovered from the in fact continuous NITS and Freek adventures, Robert Jan started arranging some songs from de Vergrijzing (Quarantaine, Vergeet mij Niet + de Zandloper) for the project Freek de Jonge & the Metropole Orchestra at the Concert Gebouw planned on February 4th for NCRV radio. RJ called in the support of colleague arranger Martin Fondse, who, in fine corporation, finished the scores after RJ had designed them. Later on Martin would also take care of the keyboards in Freek’s band ‘de Kneep’, when RJ was occupied with his NITS works again.
In this same period RJ got an invitation from hard core fan Peter Dommisse, who thought the intimate and privately run theatre ‘de Wegwijzer’ in his home village Nieuw en St Joosland, could be good surrounding for one of RJ’s solo concerts. So it was, the evening was a very special one, with many songs and pieces from all different RJ-episodes reviving, with ‘only’ the piano and a mike as his tools. Once again it tasted like more – so soon the agreement was made for next year, same month, same recipe.
(contact&info : email@example.com)
Annie M G Schmidt Prijs
In March 2005 RJ and Freekwere given the Annie M G Schmidt Prijs for the song ‘Vergeet Mij Niet’ being rewarded as the best Dutch theatre song written and performed in 2004.
NITS – Les Nuits
Then it was time again to pick up the renewed NITS story. In the first part of 2005 Henk was touring ‘solo’ in Holland and Belgium, RJ and his family moved house, again(!), this time to the city of Delft.
New recordings were planned with the basic Rob-Henk-RJ trioin de Werf studio, Paul Telman also recording again and this time everyone felt something specialwas happening, the material came quite easy and because time was limited, the planned mini album was recorded in a minimum of actual recording time. The band invited Jasper leClerq to complete the atmosphere of the album with his arrangements for string-quartet. When they were added, the whole album puzzle locked naturally and when finally mixed by Paul Telman, a new NITS highlightwas born: the album ‘Les Nuits’.
The only problem was, that SONY-BGM,the record company to which the NITS had returned for the Benelux, was quite surprised by ‘Les Nuits’ being a mini-album… After a small hesitation and taking a deep breath, NITS agreed to finish a complete album by adding more newly written and recorded songs. (among them the later-to-become-singles ‘the Key Shop’and ‘the Wind Up Bird’) So the release had to be postponed, but once released in the autumn of 2005,it was internationally very well received, many a fan and or journalist was greatly surprised by the fact that NITS had been able to produce such an original fresh and high-spirited CDlike ‘Les Nuits’ as their 19th album!
One of the countries where ‘Les Nuits’ got a remarkable response wasFrance, not in the last place because of the French title and lyrics, also because the Paris–based record company ‘Atmosphérique’ really jumped into it and NITS’ first French Connection since the early eighties Bernard Batzenwas also ready to take over the new enthusiasm that the NITS were spreading.
RJ’s elder brother Wouter Stips, who used to be a successful television maker, had left this career behind for already several years and started a new life as a painter, according to his roots: he studied Academy of Arts in Rotterdam back in the sixties. One of his projects as a painterwas producing art-books. In 2005 he was working on the book ‘Zoveel Ongeveer Hou Ik Van Jou’, a book that was planned to go together with a CDwith songs based on Wouter’s lyrics. Wouter asked drummer/producer Hans Eijkenaarand his girlfriend singer Megto produce a ‘heavy rock’-style CD, with an impressive list ofguest singersamong whom Mathilde Santing andBarry Hay. For one, more intimate track Wouter asked RJto write and play the music ( though the actual liner notes give no information at all about this!), which resulted in the transparent and touching song “Ogen Voelen’, sung-spoken by Wouterand sung by Meg.
Kortgehouden – Freek de Jonge
Around September 2005 Jelle de Jonge, sun of, produced a television series called‘Kortgehouden’in which his father Freekfeatured mostly as a writer of short sketches and conferences, sometimes performed by other artists like Erik van Muiswinkel and Diederik van Vleuten, Theo Maassen, Karin Bloemen (to name a few), while in other episodes Freek himself took the leading part in short movies directed by numerous dutch movie directors. Robert Jan delivered the leader musicand the music for about 9 of the (about 80) short movies.
NITS Les Nuits tour *under construction *
RJSOLO mini tour in Feb/March – under construction
FREEK de JONGE ‘de TOESCHOUWER’ TOUR
recording new NITS album
FREEK de JONGE ”de TOESCHOUWER’ TOUR
RELEASE FREEK de JONGE ‘de TOEHOORDER’
RJSOLO tour in Nov/ Dec – under construction
RELEASE new NITS album – Doing the Dishes
NITS Doing The Dishes Tour 1st LEG – under construction
RJSOLO tour in Sept / Dec
RELEASE RJSOLO CD/ DVD ‘ROND’ – under construction
NITS Doing The Dishes Tour 2nd LEG – under construction
May / June – recording new NITS album: Strawberry Wood
June/ July– RJ writes 8 songs for VPRO documentary. – under construction
Oct / Dec – NITS Strawberry Wood release and tour, 1st leg : Dutch theatres, Helsinki, Paris.
RJSOLO tour in Jan/Feb/March
NITS STRAWBERRY WOOD TOUR, 2nd leg
At PARKPOP 2010 RJ organizes a big event,
celebrating the festival’s 30st anniversary :
a 3 Simultaneous Stages Performance !
–under construction –
SUPERSISTER and NITS both plays on DUTCH TV – Nacht van de Nederpop.
RJSOLO tour in jan, feb, march.
NITS rcording new album [ > Malpensa]
in A’dam, Utrecht (Kytopia) and Piemonte, Italy
–under construction –
RJSOLO tour in Jan/Feb/March
RELEASE new NITS CD MALPENSA
RJ misses first leg of MALPENSA tour, due to an operation on his left hand ( bacterial infection).
summer : NITS play festivals in Switzerland and Holland.
NITS MALPENSA THEATRE TOUR , mainly in Holland + small European trips – oct/nov/dec.
–under construction –
RJSOLO tour in jan /feb€
NITS – MALPENSA THEATER TOUR ctd. – march/april/may/
the year in which NITS celebrated its 40 years anniversary. first they played material from their first 10 years up in the small concert place upstairs at the Paradiso A’dam, where they played 40 years before as well, there first gig at the Paradiso, 1974. a few weeks later followed by a big concert down in the big Paradiso concert hall with a collection of songs from the ‘rest’ of the 40 years, a memorable night, also because between concert and encores the major of Amsterdam van der Laan appeared on stage and held a speech in which he declared that his Majesty the King had decided to give the 3 NITS members the medals of being Knights in the order of Orange – Nassau !
from there on a small international tour was played to celebrate the 40 years in Germany, Austria, England and last but not least Switzerland, where a wonderful initiative of Swiss hard core fans resulted in a wonderful 3 double CD full of highly original and well performed NITS covers by somewhat 50 Swiss, German, French and English artists, entitled ISN’T NITS !
in the meantime RJ was invited by theatre ‘De Wegwijzer’ in Zeeland to be the musical ‘chief’ for ‘O die zee’ , a high reaching and risky enterprise in order to realise a unique music-theatre-spectacle near the Westerschelde in the summer of 2014. Huub van der Lubbe (singer/author of ‘de Dijk’) writing the song-lyrics, Tom de Ket (ao de Verleiders) writing the script and directing, RJ inviting Dutch pop-composers of all ranges to write the music for one song, arranging, organising and playing them with the band, for which he invited ‘Ocobar’.
Resulting in a stunning multi-discipline 20 very successful and sold out musical and theatre performances, ‘O die zee’ was also the start of the theatre band ‘FABELHAFTt’ , touring in 2017 (!) with ‘O Die Zee – In Concert‘…
later that year RJ writes and records 10 special pieces for 10 paintings that are part of the special exposition of his brother, painter Wouter Stips entitled ‘Kind van 70’ (‘Child aged 70’) from September 21st at the Singer Museum in Laren, Holland.
( listen/download )
Nits tour – Holland Finland Switzerland
solotour including the ‘three grand piano concert’ in the Beauforthuis – resulting in the release of “Present tot the Highest RJS plays Supersister
summer: Music for ‘new TV Channel ‘ONS’
october ” Frits (Freek & Nits)
jan/feb/march/may – RJSolo
june / first performances with NITS and Scapino
sept / october / TING!
18 performanceses in Rotterdam : with SCAPINO, NITS & CODARTS
music for NTR docu series about the dutch connection with South Africa ‘Goede Hoop’
nov/dec / RJSolo and NITS
jan / feb / FABELHAFT theater tour
O Die Zee – in concert
release CD ‘O die zee – 11 songs’
apr / may / RJSolo
june / july / NITS recording CD ‘angst’
aug / sept / release CD ‘angst’,
first try outs
oct – december : NITS ‘angst’ NL theater tour (first leg)
jan / feb / RJSolo
+ first performance of ‘Stips in het Kwadraat’ – with Wouter Stips (paintings and poetry) and Marieke Brokamp (violin)
march /NITS ‘angst’ NL theater tour
( 2nd leg )
april / may / NITS ‘angst’ Europe :
Austria, Switzerland,France, Belgium, Finland, Germany
summer : NITS Festivals and RJSolo
sept / october / Reprise TING! in Carré – A’dam and de Nieuwe Luxor – R’dam
october / recording NTR documentary about RJS
under construction –
jan / feb / march RJSolofeb / documentary on Dutch Television:
‘De Tovenaar van de Nederpop’april / SUPERSISTER PROJEKT 2019
release CD /LP ‘RETSIS REPUS’
XXL concerts The Hague & Amsterdam
october / SUPERSISTER PROJEKT 2019
club tourJune / July concerts
RJSolo and Stips&Brokampnovember / release NITS CD ‘Knot’
nov&dec / NITS ‘Knot’ tour
extra Supersister Projekt XL concert on december 5 in Arnhem.
jan – feb / RJSolo
new TV Leader “Andere Tijden” icw Marieke Brokamp
march / NITS KNOT tour…
c o r o n a …
may / Requests On Line
June/ The Festival (Was On) – remembering The Holland Pop Festival 50 th anniversary
+ playing solo live stream concerts
dec: release of the Supersister Biography: ‘ Looking Back, Naked’ written by Fred Baggen and the audio-illustrative CD with the same name.
(rjs – hilversum, helsinki, rennes, münchen, nantes, hamburg, the hague, chappes, quebec, beaufort, delft , lenk