The Indonesian Immigrants who brought Rock'n'Roll to the Dutch
October 18, 2018 10:06 PM   Subscribe

Between 1945 and '65 around 300,000 Dutch, Mollucans and Indo people, the descendants of mixed Dutch and Indonesian parents, left the Dutch East Indies, today known as Indonesia, for the Netherlands. The majority arrived around the time of Indonesia's struggle for independence in the second half of the 1940s. And some of these immigrants brought in western Rock'n'Roll: The Blue Diamonds, The Crazy Rockers and The Tielman Brothers (trio of black'n'white rock'n'roll videos; more below). [Another twang of the guitar to Johnny Wallflower for this musical trip]

According to The Story of Indo-Rock, the guitar came to Indonesia by way of Portuguese explorers in the 14th century.
The traditional Portuguese song styles saudade and fado with guitar accompaniment became later krontjong (Malay) music. Krontjong is characterized by guitars which are talking to each other and the guitarists play rhythmic and melodic parts by the feel. Except this musical baggage they had a predilection for Hawaiian-music (also popular in the Netherlands) and they knew the American country & western and the hot rock & roll repertoire from the radio stations in Indonesia via American (AFN) stations from The Philippines and Australia.
Per that history, The Real Room Rockers were the first (Indo)Rock band in the Netherlands, seen here in rough recordings with some English narration. The band later went by The Hurricane Rollers. Then there was The Hot Jumpers, The Black Dynamites, Electric Johnny & His Skyrockets, The Rocking Diamonds, and Jimmy Green to name a few (and note that none of those links are live performances, sadly).

But the three groups linked above the break are the big names, not only in the late 1950s and into the '60s, but they continued to play for decades more. Let's start with The Tielman Brothers, lead by Andy Tielman, the uncrowned king of Indo-Rock:
n 1957 came the Tielman Brothers to the Netherlands. Andy Tielman and his brothers Reggy, Ponthon and Loulou played already together in Indonesia as The Timor Rhythm Brothers. In Breda they started as The Four T's. They secured a job at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair (EXPO '58) in the "Hawaiian Village" section of the Dutch pavilion. Hired to play for only fifteen minutes when the Hawaiian band took their break, the Four Tielman Brothers stole the show with their wild rock'n'roll songs and acrobatic antics. They tossed guitars across stage, played the guitar and the bass with their toes and teeth, and played their instruments behind their heads and upside down.
You can see some of that showmanship in the clip above the break for Rollin Rock, and apparently more clips from that same show: Black Eyes Rock, both instrumental tracks. Their break-out single, Rock Little Baby of Mine (audio only) sounds a lot like Elvis Presley, and you can still hear a bit of that vocal twang in Bossa Nova Baby, another television appearance, this time with some fancy choreography and fine footwork. The brothers toured and performed for years, with their biggest hit in the Netherlands being Little Bird, in 1967. Here's another live performance, from 1983, the year that Andy disbanded the group. Some of them rejoined for a reunion in 1990, where Little Bird made a comeback; it was also the year they released their final album. Andy's last concert was in 2011.

The Blue Diamonds were brothers Ruud and Riem de Wolff, who have been called the 'Dutch Everly Brothers,' in part for their many covers of Everly Brothers songs. As you can guess, they were much less raucous than the Tielman Brothers, and you can definitely hear it in their first hit, Ramona, an upbeat cover from 1960s of a an old orchestral crooner tune from more than 30 years prior. Here's All Of Me, a black and white video mis-synched to a studio recording, and here's a later live performance of Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On. Jumping ahead some decades, enjoy The Blue Diamonds in Singapore 1994, and a 21 minute Dutch documentary with Riem de Wolff, three years before his death in 2017.

The last band standing is now the oldest rock'n'roll band in Europe (25 minute live set), The Crazy Rockers! Their discography is shorter than that of The Blue Diamonds, in part because it seems they're partial to covers, but the still rock! Going back to their beginning, here's a live television performance of Mama Papa Twist (also linked above the break), Carioca, The Third Man, and from another show, Sheherazade (audio with photos), and Amapola (live audio tape 1964).
posted by filthy light thief (7 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
And for even more IndoRock through the decades, the Dutch label Sam Sam Music has a playlist of 32 random videos, and a number of compilations in The Story of Indo Rock series (Amazon link to Vol. 1).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:11 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

What a great post, thank you for putting this together!

Not Dutch, but of interest for anyone who may want to explore more Indo Rock: Egon Alapatt (of Now Again records fame) has released some great Indonesian 60s/70s rock/psych/funk compilations:


posted by nightrecordings at 10:51 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't want to use the phrase "colonial legacy" because it makes colonialism seem like a benign force, when of course it has been a significant source of misery throughout the world.

I think instead a more useful way to think about it is when people are exposed to something they haven't seen before, but they either like it or can see the advantage in learning about it, they can rapidly take it and adapt it to their own circumstances. And that's when greatness happens.

But we should always remember greatness was happening before the new thing arrived, and the arrival of the new thing is not necessarily a benefit, or desired.
posted by awfurby at 11:24 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Shocking Shaking was a fantastic comp, adn it was great to get some history here.
posted by PinkMoose at 4:50 AM on October 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Holy shit! I'm letting you do all my FPPs from now on.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:57 AM on October 19, 2018

Honestly, your link to that the Tielman Brothers' "Rollin Rock" performance was pretty much the peak of the post, IMO, but I had to know how there came to so many Indonesian rockers in the Netherlands, so here we are.

Really, there's a place for brevity, but I'm not too good at that. Want someone to dig into the context and history of something? I'm all over that! But if you have a self-contained thing to share, I can't not look for more information, so I'll probably get all wordy.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:49 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Shocking Shaking was a fantastic comp

Here's the Discogs entry for the Now-Again compilation of Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Funk from 1970-1978.

Good reference, definitely more psych-y, progg-y and funky than the OP material, and damn it's good.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:29 PM on October 19, 2018

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