Johan Verminnen Bookmark and Share


22 may 1951

Verminnen was born as the youngest in a family of five in the small town of Wemmel (just north of Brussels). At a young age he started writing music and formed the centerpoint of a bunch of musicians in Jette (Brussels) with a taste for blues music. Among the friends where Lamp & Lazarus, Erik Van Neygen, Jari de Meulemeester (who later stood at the basis of the venue Ancienne Belgique in Brussels) and many others. In the sixties he played briefly in a band called Burning Plague. But he left the band quickly and appeared solo in the TV talent show ‘Ontdek de Ster’ (Discover the star) in 1969. This let to a relationship with Jean Klüger, boss of the record company Biram, who gave Johan the chance to record a solo album in 1970. The relationship between Klüger and Verminnen would last more than 15 years, until the artist was dumped in 1984.

On his second record, he cooperated with Raymond Van Het Groenewoud, a shy boy who was introduced to the nightlife of Brussels and Amsterdam by Verminnen. The result was devastating. With this record, Verminnen also hit the jackpot. The beautiful song 'Laat me nu toch niet alleen' (Don't leave me now) became a huge hit and started off his musical career. Van Het Groenewoud went off to form Louisette and his solo career, so Verminnen formed another band, consisting of Koen De Bruyne (brother of Kris de Bruyne), Nick Roland, Yvan De Souter and Firmin Timmermans (well known studio drummer and founder of the LSP-band). On his records of the seventies he would also get help from Jean-Marie Aerts (Tc Matic and producer), Jean Blaute (Kate's Kennel, RvhG) and Eric Melaerts (later Soulsister, Isabelle A, Yasmine ...).

Although highly respected by fellow artists Johan never was able to cross over to the main public. The Flemish songs (he never made it to the Belgian Hitparades in the seventies) kept coming : ‘Daar gaat ze’, ‘Brussel’, ‘Zaterdagavond’, ‘In de rue des bouchers’ (another ode to Brussels) and so on. At the end he recorded the song ‘Ik voel me goed’ which was actually very ironic since problems with his taxes made him gone bankrupt in the early eighties. A career in France evenly never got fully of the ground, although his music is clearly inspired by French chanson.

In the eighties he slimmed his group down and formed a duo with the piano virtuoso Tars Lootens. He broadened his musical horizon to Latin America ('t is Amor amor, Ik wil zo graag de wereld zien ...) and moved from Brussels to the small town of Sint-Martens Latem. Another blow came when in 1984 Biram dumped him. He then switched to Ariola (later to become Sony BMG). In 1986 he married photomodel Catherine Mattelaer. In 1992 he establishes copyright society Zamu for Belgian musical artists in respect to the regulations that the politicians impose on their means of living. In 2007 he would become a member of Sabam.

In 1993 he celebrates his 25th anniversary with a tour with a 15-man strong band. In 1996 he undertakes a tribute tour around his idol Jacques Brel with Dutch singer Stef Bos. Another anniversary in 1999 results in a retrospective release (Vroeger en Later) with the help of many Flemish musical artists (Kommil Foo, Laïs, Patrick Riguelle, Jo Lemaire, Roland, Big Bill, Kris De Bruyne, Stef Bos en Wannes Van de Velde). In 2001 he played the part of Captain Haddock in the musical "Kuifje en de Zonnetempel" (Tintin and the Temple of the sun). In the new millennium he tours regularly with jazzpianist Michel Bisceglia. He also develops himself as a writer, fiction as well as non-fiction. His 2007 book ‘Van Brussel naar de wereld’ contains an EP with six songs.

On the web:

- Johan's website: http://www.johanverminnen.be/

If you like this, you probably like... / european counterparts:

Boudewijn de Groot (Netherlands)

Lucio Dalla (Italy)

What do we think:

DB: Like his fellow Flemish artists (v/h Groenewoud / Vanuytsel) Verminnen had the handicap that they choose to sing in their own language in a time when that was regarded uncool. Unlike other European countries the Dutch/Flemish speaking market always had the urge to sing in English discarding their native tongue as degenerate for pop or rock. Too bad since Verminnen wrote some of the best Flemish pop/rock in the seventies. Poetic, melancholic and catchy. He was never able to reinvent himself when the eighties came like his friend Raymond van het Groenewoud. Raymond made it and became a household name in Belgium and Holland. Verminnen stayed a typical Belgian phenomena hardly known outside but with a dedicated following in his own country. Unjust but that’s life.


♪♪♪♪ - Johan Verminnen - 1970

♪♪♪♪♪ - Stilte als refrein - 1976

♪♪♪ - Live -  1977

♪♪♪ - Als mijn gitaar me helpt - 1979

♪♪♪- Ik voel me goed - 1981

Further listening: Johan Verminnen 2 - 1972; Johan Verminnen 3 - 1973; Elle chante na na na - 1974: Tweemaal woordwaarde - 1983; Melancholie – 1984; Traag is mooi - 1987; Gezongen landschap - 1988; Volle maan - 1991; Zeven levens - 1992; Alles leeft - 1994; Suiker en zout - 1996; Marin d'eaux douces - 1998; Vroeger en Later - 1999; Swingen tot Morgenvroeg - 2001; Tegenlicht - 2003; Hartklop – 2005 (compilation with 6 new songs); Over mensen, boten en steden – 2007; Solozeiler - 2009

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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