Hermanus "Herman" Brood (pronounced "Hairmon Broat" /bro:t/; 5 November 1946 – 11 July 2001) was a Dutch musician and painter. As a musician he achieved artistic and commercial success in the 1970s and 1980s, and was called "the Netherlands' greatest and only rock 'n' roll star".[1] Later in life he started a successful career as a painter.

Known for his hedonistic lifestyle of "sex, drugs and rock 'n roll," Brood was an enfant terrible and a cultural figure whose suicide, apparently caused by a failure to kick his drug and alcohol habit,[2] only strengthened his controversial status. His suicide, according to a poll organized to celebrate fifty years of Dutch popular music, was the most significant event in its history.[3]


 [hide*1 Musical career

Musical career[edit]Edit

Herman Brood was born in Zwolle, and started playing the piano at age 12. He founded beat band The Moans in 1964, which would later become Long Tall Ernie and the Shakers. Brood was asked to play with Cuby and the Blizzards, but was removed by management when the record company discovered he used drugs. For a number of years Brood was in jail (for dealing LSD), or abroad, and had a number of short-term engagements (with The Studs, the Flash & Dance Band, Vitesse).[4]

In 1976, Brood started his own group, Herman Brood & his Wild Romance, (and started work with photographer Anton Corbijn)[citation needed] initially with Ferdi Karmelk (guitar), Gerrit Veen (bass), Peter Walrecht (drums), and Ellen Piebes and Ria Ruiters (vocals). They played the club and bar circuit, first in Groningen, In 1977 the band released their first album, Street.

The band now played all over the Netherlands, playing as many gigs as possible. And Herman's drug habit became public domain: In 1977 for instance the Wild Romance played a gig in a high school in Almelo, the Christelijk Lyceum; during the break Brood was caught on the toilet taking heroine or speed (there are different reports on the type of drug, but it is a well-known story amongst former students), the rest of the concert was cancelled, and this also was the last time a rock concert took place at this school for many years.[citation needed]

[1]Herman Brood in 1987[2]Graffiti in Delft in Brood's honor, done in his own style[3]Murals by Brood on a parking garage in Leidschendam.[4]Herman Brood in 2000[5]Brood's grave at Zorgvlied

They are still best known for their second album, Shpritsz—a play on the German word for syringe—from 1978. This album contained Brood anthems like "Dope Sucks," "Rock & Roll Junkie," and their first Dutch hit single, "Saturday Night." The band went through many personnel changes over the years; the best-known formation was Freddy Cavalli (bass), Dany Lademacher (guitar) (later replaced with David Hollestelle), and Cees 'Ani' Meerman (drums). A frequent contributor was Bertus Borgers (saxophone).[4]

Brood's outspoken statements in the press about sex and drug use brought him into the Dutch public arena even more than his music. He was romantically involved with the German singerNina Hagen, with whom he appeared in the 1979 film Cha-Cha. He is reputed to be the subject of her song "Herrmann Hiess Er" (English title "Herrmann Was His Name") from the 1979 Unbehagen album,[5] a song about a drug addict. Brood relished the media attention and became the most famous hard drug user in the Netherlands. "It is quite common for an artist to use drugs, but not for him to tell everybody. I admit that it scared me that my popularity could make people start using drugs," he once said in an interview.[6]

In the summer of 1979, Brood tried to enter the American market, where he toured as a support-act for The KinksThe Cars, and Foreigner. A re-recorded version of "Saturday Night" peaked at number 35 in the Billboard Hot 100,[7] but the big break Brood hoped for didn't happen.[8] When he returned to the Netherlands in October 1979, his band had begun to fall apart, and soon his popularity went downhill.[4] Go Nutz, the album Brood had recorded while in the States, and the movie Cha-Cha, which finally premiered in December 1979, were considered artistic failures, even though Go Nutz produced three charting singles in the Netherlands and the Cha Cha soundtrack attained platinum status.[9] The 1980 album Wait a Minute... was a minor success, but the follow-up albums Modern Times Revive (1981) andFrisz & Sympatisz (1982) failed to make the Dutch album charts.

Brood continued to record throughout the 1980s and had a few hits—a top-10 single, "Als Je Wint" with Henny Vrienten, and a minor hit with a reggae song, "Tattoo Song," but he spent more and more time on his art work. At the end of the '80s he made a comeback of sorts; Yada Yada (1988), produced by George Kooymans, was well-received, and he toured Germany with a renewed Wild Romance (which saw the return of Dany Lademacher). In 1990, he won the BV Popprijs, one of the highest Dutch awards for popular music, and recorded Freeze with Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band and Tejano accordion player Flaco Jiménez. A live "best of" album, Saturday Night Live, appeared in 1992. His 50th birthday, in 1996, was celebrated with a show inParadiso, Amsterdam, and the album (of duets) was released the same year.[4]

Visual arts career[edit]Edit

After his career in music, Brood turned to painting and became a well-known character in Amsterdam art circles. His art is best described as pop-art, often very colorful and graffiti-inspired screen prints, and he achieved some commercial success and notoriety by, for instance, creating murals in various public spaces in and around Amsterdam.[10] He continued to remain in the public eye, by appearing in the media and by his cooperation with biographical films such as 1994's Rock'n Roll Junkie.[11]

Suicide and legacy[edit]Edit

Toward the end of his life, Brood vowed to abstain from most drugs, reducing his drug use to alcohol and a daily shot of speed ("2 grams per day"[11]). In 2001, depressed by the failure of his drug rehabilitation program and facing serious medical problems because of his prolonged drug use, he committed suicide on 11 July by jumping from the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel at the age of 54.[1] Extensively covered by the national media, his cremation took place five days later. Before the cremation, Brood's casket was driven from the Hilton hotel to Paradiso, Amsterdam, the streets lined with thousands of spectators. A commemorative concert was held in Paradiso, with performances by Hans DulferAndré Hazes, and Jules Deelder,[12] and leading Dutch music magazine Muziekkrant OOR devoted an entire issue to him.[13] His ashes were placed at Zorgvlied cemetery.

Soon after his suicide, Brood's version of "My Way" spent three weeks as number one in the Dutch singles charts;[14][15] the market value of his art work also increased greatly.[16] A characteristic note is that Brood's paintings were already targeted often by vandals during his life,[17] while after his death they were stolen for their value.[18] His popularity (or notoriety) was verified by the fact that his name turned out to be the strongest brand of the year.[19]

When U2 performed in the Netherlands three weeks after Brood's suicide, they paid tribute to him at each of the three shows. They dedicated an acoustic version of Duke Ellington's "Jump for Joy" to him, a song they never performed at any other time of their career. At the third show in Arnhem they also dedicated their own "Gone"to him and had his version of "My Way" played over the PA as outro music. In the middle of the show Bono delivered an emotional eulogy to Brood before the band performed "In a Little While".

On 5 November 2006 the Groninger Museum opened an exposition devoted to Herman Brood's life and work, comprising paintings, lyrics, and poetry, portraits by photographer Anton Corbijn, a collection of private pictures (from the family album), and concert photos and videos. The exhibition was on show until 28 January. It was centered on Herman's atelier (studio) where he created most of his paintings. The atelier had been entirely re-built in the museum. During the 90s, Herman Brood's studio was located on the second floor of the gallery in the Spuistraat in Amsterdam and has remained untouched since his death.

In 2007 the film Wild Romance premiered in the Netherlands, a movie about Brood's life. Brood was portrayed by Daniël Boissevain. He continues to inspire other artists: the 2007 album Bluefinger by Black Francis is based on the life and works of Brood.[20] A tribute band called the Brood Roosters ("bread toasters") was active in the Netherlands until they split up in early 2009. Another tribute band called Yada Yada is still active in The Netherlands, often appearing with original members of the Wild Romance (Dany Lademacher, Ramon Rambeaux) .[21]

In 2010, the Catastrophic Theatre Company collaborated with Frank Black on a rock opera based on the Bluefinger album. The opera's first performance, with Matt Kelly portraying Brood, was 12 November 2010 in Houston, Texas.[22]

Discography (albums)[edit]Edit



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