On December 24th, 1976, the Nederlandse Top 40 (Dutch Top 40) published its week 52 list. The number 10 slot was held by an André Hazes Christmas song.
André Gerardus (André) Hazes was born on June 30th, 1951, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He was a Dutch folk singer, who became popular at the end of the 1970s/early 1980s. He sang in Dutch, wrote his own lyrics and was one of the major exponents of the ‘levenslied’ (sentimental torch song).
Late 1960s Hazes is apprehended for breaking and entering and is placed in the youth facility De Corridor. While there, Hazes explores his artistic side, and writes for the prison magazine and takes part in presentation-nights.
Next, Hazes has several jobs, but never seems to fit in. The only constant in his life is singing. He gets his television debut at age 9, but nothing comes of it. In 1976 Hazes is known as the singing bartender at the Amsterdam café De Krommerdt. That same year he writes lyrics to music written by his cousin: Eenzame Kerst (which translates to Lonely Christmas).
A demo is made, which is delivered into the mailbox of the Dutch king of the ‘smartlap’ (tear-jerker) Willy Alberti. Alberti is impressed and urges Hazes to record the song professionally. That very same year Phonogram releases the single just before Christmas.
The single enters the national hit parade on December 24th, 1976, at position 10 (!). It signaled the start of a long and fruitful career.
The lyrics to the song were based on Hazes’ stay at De Corridor and personal experiences of a café visitor. Even though Hazes wasn’t locked up during Christmas time, he vocalized a string sentiment among detainees. Early 1990s prison guards call the fear of being alone during Christmas the “André-Hazes-feeling”.
During his lifetime Hazes would release two more Christmas songs. Met Kerst Ben Ik Alleen (containing the music of ABBA’s The Day Before You Came) in 1982 and Ik Steek Voor Ons De Kaarsen Aan in 1992. Both singles weren’t as popular as Eenzame Kerst.
André Hazes, the sequel
From the early 1980s and onwards Hazes gets ever more popular in The Netherlands and (Dutch speaking) Belgium. He would score hit after hit over his long lasting career and would grow out to become the greatest ‘smartlap’ singer The Netherlands have ever seen.
On September 21st, 2004, he is admitted to a hospital with a high fever and distress. Two days later Hazes dies due to cardiac arrest. On September 27th, nearly 50,000 people assembled at the Amsterdam ArenA stadium for a farewell ceremony. It is broadcast live on television and watched by over 6 million viewers.
In 2004 the Christmas single Met Kerst Ben Ik Alleen / Eenzame Kerst is released. Both songs have been slightly re-polished audio-wise. The single is a success. On September 23rd, 2005 (one year after his passing), parts of Hazes’ ashes are shot into the sky with flares (as was his wish) from a Dutch beach. That same day a statue was unveiled at the Amsterdam Albert Cuypmarkt.
In 1992 André Hazes returned to De Corridor for a show. While there he visited his old room and talked to the young detainees.
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: André Hazes has a Lonely Christmas.
André Hazes in seasonal spirit 1976 image: youtube.com
André Hazes – Eenzame Kerst (single) image: bol.com
André Hazes – Met Kerst Ben Ik Alleen & Ik Steek Voor Ons De Kaarsen Aan image: dutchcharts.nl
André Hazes – Live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam 1982 image: filmbieb.nl
André Hazes – Farewell Amsterdam ArenA image: mokums.nl