One of the icons of Dutch rock music was Herman Brood. His life was a succession of highs and lows, tragically ending with his self-inflicted death in Amsterdam in 2001.
In 1959 he took his first piano lesson. His days (or rather nights) were spent practicing Little Richard and Fats Domino chords. Even though he liked blues and fell in love with jazz, he made his mark in rock 'n' roll.
Herman also liked to draw. He enrolled at the Art Academy of Arnhem in 1964. Soon he realized school was not for him and he dropped out. That same year, he joined his first band, The Moans, which later became Long Tall Ernie and the Shakers. When the band played American bases in Germany, Herman regularly took pills to keep him awake during the long days of touring. It was then that his lifelong love-hate relationship with drugs started.
After a decade with blues band Cuby + Blizzards Herman formed his own band, The Wild Romance in 1976. He played with them until the very end and produced some of his greatest hits such as the popular 1978 single Saturday Night.
He continued to like to paint, and although his artwork was appreciated, he was critical about it himself. He once put a painting by the curb next to the garbage, and when a friend said that he thought it was great, Herman disagreed, arguing that it had been out there for nearly an hour, and no one had taken it.
Despite his heavy drug use and erratic behavior, Herman Brood was loved for his ‘devil-may-care’ attitude and honesty. The Dutch often referred to him as the ‘cuddle junkie’, and fellow musician Andy Tielman called him “a mix between Elvis and Van Gogh”.
Herman had few inhibitions and was very unpredictable. His management had a hard time keeping him out of jail, preventing him from overdosing or simply having him show up on time for his performances.
As the years progressed, he continued writing songs and poetry, and painting. In the end, he succumbed to his intense drug abuse. On July 11th 2001, when it seemed as though he only had a few more months to live, he decided to leave the world on his own terms and jumped off the roof of the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam. He was only fifty-five years old. Along the way to his funeral, roads were filled with people cheering and crying.
For more on Herman Brood, his life, art and music, read Issue 17 of Dutch the magazine.
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