Dutch singer/songwriter Frank Boeijen was the frontman of the popular Frank Boeijen Groep from 1980 until 1991, the year he launched his solo career. As leader of the Frank Boeijen Groep, Boeijen was one of the pioneers of Nederpop, along with the likes of Doe Maar and Het Goede Doel. After the peak of Nederpop passed, Boeijen broke new ground by touring theaters with his band and bringing pop music to new auditoriums and audiences. As a solo artist, he has continued this theater-based approach to his music and maintained a productive pace.
Frank Boeijen was born in Nijmegen on November 27, 1957, the last in a family of ten children. His father was a typesetter in a factory. His older brothers were into American pop music; in the Boeijen household, Bob Dylan and Neil Young could often be heard on the record player (years later, Boeijen would write a song about this, appropriately titled "Robert Zimmerman"). Young Frank learned to play the guitar. After finishing high school, Boeijen started a musical collaboration with guitarist Wout Pennings. Boeijen en Pennings released an album together in 1977. The songs of the album were re-recorded and the album was re-released a year later, with Rob de Nijs serving as producer. It was appropriately titled Boeijen en Pennings. To fulfill live engagements, drummer Henk Wanders and bass player Nels Busch joined the duo.
Pennings left the band in 1979 and was replaced with guitar player Wil Theunissen, and the band's name was changed to the Frank Boeijen Groep. The B-side of their first single, a song entitled "Verjaardagsfeest," was picked up by radio disc jockey Frits Spits, who played the record often during his evening show. The group released its debut album, simply titled Frank Boeijen Groep, later that year. Given the extensive airplay of "Verjaardagsfeest," the album reached the Tipparade.
Nederpop, pop music with Dutch vocals, was becoming a mainstream success in the early '80s, and the Frank Boeijen Groep hitched a wagon to that train when their single "Linda" reached the Top 40. "Zwart Wit," another single, written after a racial murder had taken place in Amsterdam, became a number one hit. The 1982 album Twee and 1983's 1001 Hotel became big sellers.
In 1984, the Frank Boeijen Groep was awarded the Zilveren Harp by Conamus. During that same year, the album Kontakt was released. Lead guitarist Wil Theunissen quit the group later that year and was replaced by Maarten Peters, who himself was replaced two years later by Ger Hoeijmakers. In 1985, the group released Foto Van Een Mooie Dag. The single "Kronenburg Park" -- named after Kronenburger Park in Nijmegen, Boeijen's place of birth and residence -- became a huge success. The follow-up album, In Nature, released in 1986, didn't do as well, but still sold respectably.
Toward the end of the '80s, Boeijen's music fell somewhere in between the levenslied of André Hazes, the chansons of Ramses Shaffy, and the pop of Doe Maar. According to Frank Boeijen and his manager Paul Schouwenaars, the group had outgrown clubs and tents, and with the release of album Welkom in Utopia in 1987, the band decided to tour Dutch theaters. The Welkom in Utopia tour started in the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam in September of the same year. Two more albums were released: the studio album Een Zomer Aan Het Eind Van de Twintigste Eeuw (1989) and the live album Hier Komt de Storm (1990). During these years, Boeijen dated Sky Channel presenter Amanda Redington, and the two would marry in 1990. The album Dans in Slow Motion, released in 1988, was written for her; however, by June 1994 they separated from each other.
In the spring of 1991, Boeijen announced the end of his group, and in November of that year he released his first solo album, Wilde Bloemen. The musicians on the album were drummer Norman Bonink, guitarist Peter van Benthem, and bassist Michel van Schie. Van Schie was replaced by touring bassist Lené Te Voortwis, and pianist Ton Snijders also participated. Wilde Bloemen featured several duets with other well-known Dutch musicians, including "Twee Gezichten," a song written and recorded with Henk Hofstede of the Nits, and "Het IJs," written and recorded with Henny Vrienten of Doe Maar.
In the summer of 1993, Boeijen recorded Jazz in Barcelona, an album whose themes touched upon his breakup with Amanda Redington. The subsequent theater tour was a big success, with sold-out shows every evening. Traces of Boeijen's breakup with Redington were also found on his next album, 1994's De Ontmoeting, an even more spare and intimate affair than Jazz in Barcelona. De Ontmoeting also featured a single, "Twee Mannen Zo Stil," with music and lyrics by Boeijen and Stef Bos. Although the single failed to ascend the charts, over the years it became a Nederpop classic, often played at funerals. In the same year, Boeijen produced an album for Liesbeth List, the female vocalist on Ramses Shaffy's recordings. In 1995, another live album, Stormvogels, hit the shelves.
Boeijen returned with two new albums in 1997: a greatest-hits compilation, Het Mooist & Het Beste, and an album of new material, Vaderland. The previous year, Boeijen had traveled extensively through Asia, and although focused on Boeijen and The Netherlands, many of the songs were written from a distant perspective. In 1999, De Ballade van de Dromedaris, recorded in Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios, appeared, followed by the live album Door de Jaren Heen, containing duets with Ramses Shaffy, Liesbeth List, and Stef Bos. Both albums were big sellers. In 2001, Heden was released. Drummer Norman Bonink left the group to join Bløf; his seat was filled by Oscar Kraal. Heden contained a collaboration between Boeijen and Bløf frontman Paskal Jakobsen, the single "Geen Gevaar." The song was released in the summer of 2002. In the same year, Boeijen won an Edison Award as Best Singer. In addition, a career retrospective, Toen en Nu, containing 50 of Boeijen's songs, was released. Boeijen's career came full circle in 2006, when he received a Best Dutch Pop Album Award from Frits Spits for the studio album As. ~ Philip D. Huff