Today Belgium lost one of its most remarkable (cult)icons for life. The day after he celebrated his 85th birthday, Bobbejaan Schoepen died of a heart-attack at the Turnhout hospital. He was famous because of his yodeling and whistling talent. Check a funny old video from the movie ‘At the the Drop of a Head’ (L’Ordonnance) from 1962 over here and see why he was often called the Belgium cowboy. Toots Thielemans taught him how to play the harmonica in 1951 while playing guitar in Bobbejaans band and – not coincidentally – Toots himself became a professional whistler too. Bobbejaan was the first European to do a gig at the famous Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, but wanted to spend more time back home with his wife.
In an attempt to quit touring that much, he bought a castle in 1959, which he turned into a place for variete. Nowadays this place is called ‘Bobbejaanland’, a very big amusement park for families with kids. This park made Bobbejaan a very fortunated man.
In 2008 the Belgium cowboy returned to his roots as he recorded a highly recommended come-back album simply called ‘Bobbejaan’. Acoustic mostly, fragile and intense songs on the edge of country and singer-songwriting. He also planned to release a new live-album later on this year… Don’t know whether these tracks were already recorded or not, but luckily for us he left us with two breathtaking duets on his last album.
Bye Bye Bobbejaan, I do hope the pubs up-there are well equipped!
(Clip @ YouTube)
Bobbejaan Schoepen – Café Sans Export (From the movie L’Ordonnance)
Bobbejaan Schoepen & Geike Arnaert – Le Temps des Cerises
Bobbejaan Schoepen & Axelle Red – Je Me Suis Souvent Demandé