Monday, May 10, 2010

Johnny and his Cellar Rockers (NL) - The Singles

In 1961 -- the year 15-year-old Jan Akkerman founded Johnny & his Cellar Rockers -- I was 14 years old. As a member of one of the many youth clubs Amsterdam counted, I was aloud to fix the stage every saturday night for the local bands who came to play. One of that early rock groups was Johnny & his Cellar Rockers. As a 'thank you' Jan gave me a copy of their first single witch I considered as one of my personal jewels for a long time. Besides Jan Akkerman and his 8-year-old brother Cocky, the band consisted of Pierre van der Linden on drums, later joined by Cor Engelsma (bass) and Jan Burgers (second guitarist).

The band started some months earlier. And because of their unbridled and loud enthusiasm during music practice, they were regularly banned to the cellar of the Akkerman family. The Cellar Rockers first played without a singer. They did not need one, for they played instrumental rock, a musical style that was very popular at the time. It was introduced in 1960 by the world-famous band The Shadows. The genre was eagerly picked up by young Dutch people and many Dutch musicians started copying it. With the talented Jan Akkerman as front man, the band soon became very popular in Amsterdam and its surroundings. They managed to get a record deal with Philips and released their first instrumental single "Exodus"/"Melody in F Rock" on Decca -- the one Akkerman gave me. "Blue Tango"/"Una Aventura Mas" were the first productions in 1962. Jan also started to play his own material with Johnny & his Cellar Rockers and two of his compositions, "Namrekka" (Akkerman in reverse) and "Bonzo", were released on vinyl. Both singles also appeared on an EP called "Blue Tango". Read on +/-

Pierre van der Linden was replaced in 1962 by Sydney Wachtel. The members of the band figured it was time for something new. Instrumental music decreased in popularity, so they decided to try out a new musical genre. The Beatles, who conquered the whole world with their music, were a great source of inspiration for many bands, including Jan and his crew. The song "All My Loving", written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, provided the basis for their next single, which finally got the title "Close your eyes". The B-side of that single was the rock classic "Be-Bop-A-Lula". These two songs proved that Johnny & his Cellar Rockers could handle vocal repertoire just as well. Many artists heard of the band's musical growth and as a result they were frequently asked to accompany various solo artists during studio recordings. In between collaborations, the band also recorded the single "I love you, yes I do"/"Why".

I saw Jan Akkerman many years later, after one of his solo concerts, but he didn't remember me as a 'stage manager'. Even so we had a nice talk, remembering those 'old days'.

1961 SP Exodus/Melody in F Rock (NL Decca FM 264.399) (GE Fontana 266.273 FE)
1961 SP Hits In Rock Medley 1/Hits In Rock Medley 2 (NL Decca FM 264.400)*
[Non Je Ne Regrette Rien-Surrender-Tommy Uit Tennessee/Wheels-Pepe-Are You Sure]
1962 SP Blue Tango/Una Aventura Mas (NL Decca FM 264.478)*
1962 SP Namrekka/Bonzo (NL Decca 264.479)*
1962 EP Blue Tango (NL Decca FM V 63119)
1963 SP Close Your Eyes/Be-Bop-A-Lula (NL Decca AT 10049)
1964 SP I Love You Yes I Do/Why (NL Decca AT 10106)
(* No picture sleeve)

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