Somewhere in the mid 1970's there was a Dutchman who wanted to play drums, but he was not satisfied with his drumming abilities. He had just left a band called Lava and did not have a real idea where to take his musical career next. He did know for sure that, in order to impress other musicians and to become e good drummer, he had to practise a lot. He listended to King Crimson and to records featuring Carmine Appice on drums, such as Vanilla Fudge and Cactus.
The man's name was Gerard Haitsma.
He retreated into rehearsing rooms for two years. The most frequently used rehearsal space was that of a ballet school in his home town, The Hague. He accompanied the ballet classes on his drums, enabling him to try various rhythms and volumes. After ballet classes ended, in order to muffle the noise he drew a curtain that separated the space from his drum kit and practised rock patterns.
After two years, Gerard Haitsma ran into a guitarist who he instantly recognised as a great talent. The man was playing guitar while he sat on a chair, like he had seen other guitarists do. René was not affiliated to a band. His greatest influence was Jimi Hendrix and his name was Rene Rijsdijk. Gerard felt confident enough to ask him to jam along after ballet hours. So they did.
Another two years of jamming and rehearsing followed. The two of them played their own compositions from the early start. Thus they were able to develop a unique style and sound. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was still unheard and the rock music scene did not seem to supply them with very innovative examples in the late seventies.
Gerard and Rene were probably well tuned into each other when Armand van der Hoff was recruited as a bass player. His joining the jamming sessions likely made them sound more complete and allowed to develop their rock style further. None of them probably considered themselves as a band, just a couple of friends having fun making music together on a regular basis. Meanwhile, each one fo them sustained their jobs to pay for their instruments and to live out their passion.
They played several nights a week. Gerard: "I remember that at one point, in the midst of a jamming session, a man appeared on the door well, looking panic struck. He was in his pyjamas and cried: "Oh no boys, not again, please!" We didn't have a clue what the man's problem was, we had never seen him before. After he cooled down a bit, it turned out that he lived in an apartment adjacent to the rehearsal room. We had never realised that there was someone living so close to the space where we were making a racket. It was time to find a different space for rehearsing."
Only when they realised they had developed some potential, Gerard, Rene and Armand decided to search for a singer. This turned out to be a demanding effort, since none of the vocalists who auditioned fitted the musical style or personalities of the band. Gerard: "For Bodine, we were looking for someone special. We had an Argentinian who thought that the mike volume was too low all the time. „More power, man, more power", he kept yelling all the time. Eventually we placed him outside the rehearsal room with a long sound cable. There he could sing as loud as he wanted and we could turn his volume low again."
After numerous fruitless auditions, someone tipped them off about a singer with a great voice who lived in Amsterdam. They were also warned though, that this fellow was kind of hard to handle. It didn't stop them from being curious and get in touch. The singers name was Jan van Feggelen. A phone call was made and tapes exchanged. Being a true Amsterdammer, Jay didn't feel like traveling all the way to The Hague. He did not have a driving license and thus it was agreed that Gerard, Rene and Armand would travel to Amsterdam with their instruments and jam together with Jan.
It must have turned out to be a great experience, because that very same day, the four of them decided to team up.
Jan had also started his musical career in the late sixties. he had played in different kinds of bands, inclusing soul groups with brass players, blues bands, rock bands and Chicago-style bands. Park Lane from Utrecht and 'The Band of Joy"from England. He recorded 'Connection' from the Stones under the name 'Solomon Kane' on single for CBS. It didn't turn out to be a success. Jan started to reconsider his chances in the music scene.
Jan: "After Connection flopped, I didn’t feel like making music any longer; I’d been active for such a long time and never made it. This is why I was so precautious with Bodine at first, but that has changed completely now. Bodine is the first band in which I feel at home. I can use all the lyrics that I‘ve written over the years in this band. With Bodine, I finally feel for the first time that I can sing what I believe, for one hundred percent. If we don’t make it with this band, I don’t know how we will."
Jan wrote lyrics to the compositions that the others had been rehearsing and playing before he joined. They even played some gigs when the occasion occurred, which was not too often. The earliest documented gig known thus far was when they opened on 24 March 1979 in Eksit, Rotterdam.
The first gigs did not seem to convince the audiences and venue managers a lot. Gerard in Muziekkrant Oor: "So we started to perform live. What a disappointment that was! Every time the sound was bad, we had little stage experience after all these years of playing in the basement, but worst of all: people thought our music sucked. Everyone we talked to thought it was worthless: club owners, the audience, managers, etcetera. That was annoying of course, but we believed in our music and went on twice as hard."
As Jan joined, the four of them started thinking of a band name. "Doreen" was suggested first. It sounded okay, but it didn't feel right either.
Jan: "I was living in Amsterdam at that time and I feel now that it's almost like it was meant to be.... I came into one of my favourite bars one night and ran into a friend of mine, American Jazz musician Joey Visco and with a friendly lopsided grin on his face he immediately introduced me to his new girlfriend, a real fox let me tell ya! We shook hands, she looked at me with almond eyes and in a beautiful sing song voice said: "Allo', I'm Bodine, I'm from France!" Hit between the eyes I staggered around raving: "BODINE, that's it, what a name!" A rock-solid revelation! l went to a payphone, called the guys in The Hague and told them we had a new name. That's how "Doreen" became "BODINE". (from Bodine's debut remastered album sleeve).
In the first version, probably printed in late 1979, each musician was still mentioned by his birth name. Their appearance bore resemblance to a funk and soul band. As a logo, a regular character typo was used.From then on, Bodine started to become concerned with their public image. In those days Gerard minded the writing and editing of a leaflet about Bodine.
The second promo leaflet was presumably published in 1980, when Richard Cornelisse joined the band. He would only stay for a brief period and Gerard, Rene, Armand and Jan decided to stick together. In this new version of the leaflet, a logo was designed and Rene Rijsdijk and Jan van Feggelen had assumed artist names (Rheno Xeros and Jay van Feggelen). For Rene, a fake identity was invented to attract attention of managers, record companies and perhaps to explain his eccentric style of playing. By then it had become clearly visible that Rene was a talent in his own kind and could hardly be compared to any other rock guitarist around in those days.
If a founding date for Bodine had to be chosen, two moments would qualify: Either the moment Jay joined, or the moment that the band's name was agreed upon. The sources are not clear about this. Exact points in time will be shared as soon as they become clear. As long as no other evidence turns up, the founding year remains 1978.
In 1980, Bodine scored a record deal with Rhinoceros Records, a licensee of WEA International.
Gerard: "At some point in time we had recorded a few songs on tape, but we didn’t know what to do with them. Soliciting record companies seemed pointless, so the only person we knew who could probably help us was Alfred. We sent in our tape. Never heard from him. Then I thought: I’ll just go to the NOS broadcasting station on a Tuesday, and I am not gonna leave before he listens to our tape. But you know, Alfred was a bit of an asshole, said that he had no time, but after a lot of insisting we went to listen to that tape, after his show was over. Alfred went through the roof! He took the tape with him and we didn’t hear a word from him for a couple of months, until at a certain moment Okkie Huysdens called us and three days later we were in the studio recording our first LP."
Now Bodine's career started picking up speed.
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