Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Blue Diamonds

German postcard by ISV, nr. H 83. Photo: Philips.
The Blue Diamonds is one of the most successful Dutch pop acts ever. Incidentally the Dutch-Indonesian brothers Ruud and Riem de Wolff also acted in films and on tv. Ruud (1941-2000) and Riem (1943) de Wolff were born in Batavia in the Dutch East Indies (now Jakarta in Indonesia). They came to Holland in 1949 together with their family. During their school years they performed in bands like String Extase Boys and The Cool Cats. Those bands were exponents of the famous Indo-rock scene, the cradle for all Dutch rockmusic way back in the 1950's. The Indo-rockers mixed their rural musical influences with the new rock & roll from the USA. In 1959 Ruud and Riem formed The Blue Diamonds, and recorded their first single, Till I Kissed You, a cover of the Everly Brothers. This was successfully followed by another cover, Oh Carol. On instigation of producer Jack Bulterman the 'Dutch Everly Brothers' recorded in 1960 a song from 1927, Ramona. The song was originally written for the film Ramona (1928, Edwin Carewe). It was not featured in the film itself, but was written for promotional appearances with the star of the film, Dolores del Rio. The Blue Diamonds up-tempo version of it became a worlwide hit: number one in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia, and reached even the American Billboard Hot 100: #72. In 1963 Ramona was sold seven million times, and The Blue Diamonds got an Edison award for the song. As they had hits in the Netherlands with songs in English, they adapted their songs for the German market by translating them.Their popularity in Germany lead to many appearances on tv, and in two Schlagerfilms. The comedy Und du mein Schatz bleibst hier/And You My Dear Stay Here (1961, Franz Antel was an Austrian production with Vivi Bach, Hans Moser, and Paul Hörbiger. The German production Davon träumen alle Mädchen/That’s What All the Girls Dream Of (1961, Thomas Engel) starred Harald Juhnke, and Marion Michael. The Blue Diamonds had more hits like Wie damals in Paris (1961), Little Ship/Blaues Boot der Sehnsucht (1962), and Sukiyaki (1963), but then military service and the rise of the Merseybeat slowed down their careers. During the late-1960’s and 1970’s Ruud and Riem de Wolff toured around the world, and especially in Western Europe and the Far East they stayed popular. Although their last hit was in 1971, they continued to perform on stage and tv. In 1990 Ruud was offered the leading part in My Blue Heaven (1990, Ronald Beer). The film told the story of an Indo family who start a restaurant, that is burned down by racists. The film was not a commercial success , and Ruud’s film appearance was not repeated. The Blue Diamonds were one of the few bands in the world where only death of one of the members could take it apart. They stood on top of the Dutch music scene for 40 years and far beyond its borders. Ruud de Wollf died, not very long after the group's last appearance at the end of 2000. They had recorded circa 130 records, which sold over 20 million copies. After his brother's death Riem de Wolff first wanted to stop, but he decided to continue to perform and release albums.. He will appear in the new Dutch film Ver van familie/Far Away From Family (2008, Marion Bloem). The story is an adaptation of a novel of director Marion Bloem, who is also of Dutch-Indonesian heritage, and tells the tale of a young woman, who, following the death of her stepmother, leaves her life in the USA behind, and rekindles the bonds with her Indonesian-Dutch grandmother. In 2007 the public of the Dutch Radio 5 station chose Ramona as the Best Pop Hit of the 1960’s.

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