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Bobbejaan (also Bobby Jaan or Bobbejaan Schoepen ), (born May 16, 1925 as Modest Hyppoliet Joanna Schoepen in Boom , Belgium , † May 17, 2010 in Turnhout ) was a Belgian singer and entertainer and one of the first European representatives of country music . He was the founder of the Belgian amusement park Bobbejaanland . Bobbejaan has received 25 gold records in his career .

Bobbejaan 1943

Bobbejaan was a classically trained singer and guitarist and art piper . His stage name came from the South African song Bobbejaan klim die berg . "Bobbejaan" is Afrikaans for baboon , and this title translates as "The baboon climbs the mountain". Of his 482-track repertoire, he has sold more than five million records from fields as diverse as cabaret , soundtracks for films, chansons , country and folk music .


Bobbejaan in the Grand Ole Opry , 1953

Bobbejaan grew up with five siblings in Belgium. After school he learned to be a blacksmith after his father was a farrier. As a young man he appeared in a theater group in his home village and became known regionally. In 1943 he made his debut with an appearance in the Antwerp Ancienne Belgique . In front of a full hall he sang the South African song Neen mamma, 'n Duitseman, die wil ek nie. Want pork dat lus ek never (“No, Mama, I don't want a German, because I don't like pork”), whereupon the Nazis took him away and the Ancienne Belgique was closed for three weeks.

Bobbejaan (right) with Jacques Brel , 1955

In 1948 he was able to record his first record De jodelende fluiter in Belgium with Django Reinhardt in his orchestra. As a result, he received appearances on various radio broadcasts. In 1948 he played for the American Army during the Nuremberg Trials . In 1949 Bobbejaan went on a concert tour with the Dutch army to Indonesia, later he toured with Josephine Baker , Caterina Valente , Gilbert Bécaud and Toots Thielemans , who played guitar in his orchestra in 1951. In 1953 further tours took him to the USA, where he appeared among other things as one of the first Europeans in the Grand Ole Opry . In 1954 he performed in Scandinavia and Iceland. In January 1955 Jacques Brel played for a week in his opening act in the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels , in September 1955 Bobbejaan toured several cities in Germany and from October of the same year through the Congo. Bobbejaan also performed in Belgium with his own show in a big top from 1958 to 1961. Between 1950 and 1967 he starred in five films, including two German productions: O sole mio (1960) and All girls dream about it (1961). In 1957 he again tours to the USA, where he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show , among other things . In the same year Bobbejaan took part in the Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson for Belgium and reached 8th place with his song Straatdeuntje . In 1958 he played at the gala ball of the British Queen Mum .

In 1959 Bobbejaan sang with the famous German composer Peter Kreuder . He then got a record deal with the German record company Ariola , which in early 1960 released the first single entitled Ich stand 'an der Bar und haben kein Geld , a cover version of A Pub with No Beer by Australian Slim Dusty . In the top 50 of the German music magazine Musikmarkt , the song came in sixth and stayed in the charts for 32 weeks. The song became a number one hit in Belgium. After this success, Bobbejaan released more singles in Germany in the following years and came back into the hit lists with the titles Ich cry in mein Bier (1960) and Wie 'ne Kneipe ohne Bier (1962). His own composition I have awe of snow-white hair was successful in 1963 in the version with Camillo rims and in 1971 in the version with Heino ( Dear Mother ). Including the instrumental version by James Last , this song has sold more than three million copies. In 1965, hits followed in France with Je me suis souvent demandé (with Richard Anthony ) and in 1974 in the USA with Fire and Blisters with Tex Williams .


Bobbejaan and Rudi Carrell , 1974

From 1959 to 1961 Bobbejaan left in the Belgian swamp Kasterlee the park Bobbejaanland build. The focus of the park was on water fun and variety shows , with Bobbejaan on stage with Ilse Werner , Rex Gildo and Michael Holm , among others . On the advice of Phantasialand owner Gottlieb Löffelhard, Bobbejaanland was expanded into an amusement park from 1975 and developed into a tourist attraction in the Benelux countries and the border regions of France and Germany. In 2004 Bobbejaan sold the park to a Spanish group for health reasons, among other things.

Last years

In 2005 Bobbejaan had four short appearances at the Saint Amour Literature Festival . On February 13, 2007 he was awarded the ZAMU Lifetime Achievement Award in Belgium for his musical life's work . In 2006, after recovering from colon cancer, he worked on a new music project involving Geike Arnaert ( Hooverphonic ), Axelle Red and DAAN from Dead Man Ray, this album - Bobbejaan - was released in Belgium in May 2008. In July 2008 he was inducted into the US Whistler's Hall of Fame as an artificial piper .

Bobbejaan had been married to opera singer Josée Jongen since 1961 and had five children.

Singles discography (Germany)

Chart positions
Explanation of the data
I'm standing at the bar and have no money
  DE 9 03/01/1960 (32 weeks)
I cry into my beer
  DE 32 07/01/1960 (16 weeks)
Like a pub with no beer
  DE 22nd 09/01/1962 (8 weeks)

(A / B side, catalog number, published, hit placement)

Ariola :

  • I'm standing at the bar / Roy, Old Boy , 35337, 2/1960, 6.
  • I'm crying in my beer / A house in the Heide , 35229, 6/1960, 32.
  • Much bitter tears / Marina , 35351, 9/1960
  • Kili-Watsch / The Last Rose , 45037, 2/1961
  • I must be a cowboy / play guitar , 45102, 9/1961
  • Like a bar without beer / I was missing that, 45374, 8/1962, 22.
  • The cat came back / Nice and slow and not too fast , 10164, 4/1963
  • Olala Luise / Wie ein Wanderpokal , 10166, 7/1963
  • What can I do for it / Between Tennessee and Oklahoma , 10168, 10/1963
  • What my wife wants to know / a full glass , 10990, 12/1964
  • The Road to Winnipeg / Texas-Rangers Farewell , 10992, 12/1964


  • Oh only if I were. . . / My pony and me , 40102, 1963

Decca :

  • That drives the man to the bar / I have no money for an orchestra , 1996, 1/1969

Filmography (selection)


  • Certificate for courage and self-sacrifice for the musical support of the Dutch front-line fighters in Indonesia, 1949
  • Education Artistique, Diplôme de Croix d'Honneur de Chevalier, Paris 1965
  • Platinum record for 30 years of hits, Telstar Holland 1978
  • Knight of the Order of the Crown , Belgium 1986
  • SABAM medal, Belgium 1993 and 1995
  • Document of the Order of Leopold II , Belgium 1995
  • Inclusion in the “Hall of Fame” of Radio2, Belgium 2000
  • ZAMU Lifetime Achievement Award, Belgium 2007
  • In 2008 he was inducted into the Whistlers Hall of Fame
  • Officer of the Order of the Crown, Belgium 2009

Web links

Commons : Bobbejaan Schoepen  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Chart sources: DE