From 1972 on Raymond mixes candid observations on human behavior with his own, unique sense of humor. His songs are alternatively full of emotion and boisterous, dark and joyful, but are always powered by a sound base of rock’n roll and references to all four musical corners of the globe”. They rightfully awarded him the title “His excellence of Belgian Pop”.
Born in a musical family (his father is Nico Gomez), Raymond starts performing with Johan Verminnen. In 1975 he says : “Like Lennon shouted “Twist and Shout”, no one had ever made music before. We felt that as being extremely non-comformistic. So we also had long hair and jeans. It was Johan Verminnen who showed me the life in bars. He led me into the nightlife. That was necessary, ‘cause my parents where Dutch people who lived an isolated life in Antwerp.”
After somewhile as a musician backing up other people (e.g. with Della Bosiers), he forms his own band with Erik Van Neygen called Louisette. Already he gives Flanders some of its musical evergreens like ‘Maria, Maria ik hou van jou” and “Zij houdt van Vrijen”.
In an era of “Osmonds and Mud” Louisette fails to make it big. He reforms the group, this time as RvhG and Bien Servi, for which the lineup includes Jean-Marie Aerts (see TC Matic etc …) and Jean Blaute (see Kate’s Kennel, K’s Choice …).
Humo, more than 25 years later acknowledged the fact that “Je moest eens weten hoe gelukkig ik was” (you should know how happy I was) by Bien Servi was a masterpiece : “When Raymond was hungry and 22 and stayed in bed to keep himself warm he wrote a song called “you should know how happy I was”. Classy! Only Randy Newman could have done better. When there was electricity in his apartment he would constantly put Newman’s first record on the turntable. Maybe it wasn’t that clear at the time, but nowadays it’s crystal clear that this record is the best Dutch-speaking debut album of all times.”
“Nooit meer drinken” of 1977 is the first album on which he operates with his backing group, then called “The Millionaires”, but later on renamed to e.a. “The Centimeters” and “de Vlaamse Mustafa’s”. He records “Meisjes” (girls) which becomes a huge hit and gains fame through his steamy live-reputation.
After the ironic hit “Vlaanderen boven” (Flanders on top) he also travels abroad to Holland with “Je veux de l’amour” (I want love) and makes appearances at the major Pinkpop & Torhout-Werchter festivals. He quits playing live after the successful single “cha cha cha”.
“It was becoming too easy, and most of all : too much. Never time to take a break, never time to do something fresh. I had toured Belgium twice before my appearance at Pinkpop. After that I toured the country twice again, and then I had enough of it”.
Van het Groenewoud takes a step back and starts writing music for films (e.g. “Brussels by night” from Marc Didden or “Sailor’s don’t cry” with Elsje Helewaut). He also produces some music for others (Employees, Kamagurka).
After a few “sabbatical years” he refocuses on his musical career again, but it’s a different Raymond who has come back : deeper, more emotional and intimate, sometimes more painful and more romantic is his music. His comeback doesn’t bring his popularity to the heights of the late seventies. For another minute of fame in the general public eye, he has to wait ‘till 1990 with a compilation of his early work and a surprise hit “Liefde voor muziek” (the love for music), a gospel-ish song which makes it as a carnival-hit. Raymond is back just in time to make it as the godfather for a whole new generation of Dutch-singing artist who emerged in the 90’s (Noordkaap, De Mens, Gorki)
More recently, he did a very successful -almost acoustic - concert tour through the theater halls of Belgium and Holland. A wonderful and intimistic report of this tour has been released as “De minister van Ruimtelijke Ordening”.
Now that he has seen Abraham (has become 50), Raymond van het Groenewoud has been honoured with a book. This luxurious hardback (with a cover in pluch) entitled “Je veux de l’amour” contains an intro written by Boudewijn de Groot, a story of his career, a complete discography and more than 139 lyrics to the songs that have made him such a unique figure. Moreover, the book comes with a cd, that contains 10 songs recorded acoustically at home. (Btw : it sure are busy times for Raymond-collectors, as there was also a cd with live-songs on only 2,000 copies that was handed out to those present at the Valentine’s Day-gig in February 2000 at the Ancienne Belgique).
In 2000, Raymond was also the author of the soundtrack for the very succesful film “Iedereen Beroemd” by Dominique Deruddere and the theme song “Lucky Manuelo” (which received an Oscar nomination for Foreign Language movie, but was beaten by “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon)
In 2001, Raymond released a CD with the title “Een jongen uit Schaarbeek” (a boy from Schaerbeek). The CD was recorded with César Janssens on drums again, and the young Thomas Vanelslander (Overflow) on guitar. Strangely enough, the production was done by Christine Verschorren, who also happens to be the current Ms. Van Het Groenewoud. The CD-release itself is for October 4th 2001, but there is already a track that gets lots of airplay, the single “Keineig (verliefd op haar)” (I’m so like totally in love with her).
One track on the album, the titlesong “Een jongen uit Schaarbeek” is being sung by Sarah Bettens, about which track he tells Humo “it’s a lullaby for adults. It had to be sung by a woman. I had it so bad (lovesickness) that I wished I had someone who would sing for me softly, make me feel as if I was in the warm bath of a womb again”.
Raymond fans also were pleased to find a Cd with newspaper De Morgen, with seven track - some old songs and two tracks from the new album, called “Water en Brood” (water & bread).
Respected Belgian Artist
In 2005, Raymond releases two more CD’s: “Ballades” (Ballads) and “Mr. Raymond”, which includes the protest song “Weg met Amerika”, in which he denounces the USA imperailism and the commercialisation/americanisation of society. Touring around the country performing a mix of intimate songs and his well known hits, he reaches a big audience. He gets admired not only because of his great music, but also for he has his very own style and humour in the way he performes. Many Belgian young artists are inspired by his person, resulting among other tribute’s in the project “Raymond en zijn jonge helden” (“Raymond and his young hero’s”) organisated by Poppunt.
Edited by Ninaatjuh on 23 Mar 2012, 19:14
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