28 September 2004
AMSTERDAM — Family, friends, colleagues and 40,000 fans said farewell to Dutch crooner Andre Hazes at a memorial concert in the Amsterdam ArenA stadium on Monday night. A further 5 million people watched the event live on television.
The tribute concert was warm-hearted and emotional as Dutch artists performed renditions of Hazes’ numbers. The coffin of the deceased ‘singer of the people’ was placed at the centre of the stadium.
Hazes died of a heart attack in hospital last Thursday, having suffered from years of alcoholism and diabetes. He will be cremated after a private service on Tuesday.
The free concert started at 7.30pm and continued until 9.30pm. But the expected traffic chaos due to a public transport strike in the capital did not materialise as many fans travelled to the stadium very early in the day.
Dutch national rail operator NS scheduled extra trains to cope with the expected throng. Prior to the event, it had anticipated transporting 30,000 people to the concert.
The NS said it transported between 10 and 15,000 fans from Duivendrecht station in one hour after the concert on Monday night. The station was almost empty by 11.30pm. “It went very smoothly. We are very happy,” an NS official said.
In total, about 40,000 fans crowded into the ArenA stadium and those who could not get inside watched the concert on large screens erected outside. Ratings agency Stichting KijkOnderzoek said a total of 5,047,000 people watched the concert live on television.
BVN-TV — a cooperative effort between the world service, Dutch public broadcasters and Flemish broadcaster VRT — also broadcast the event live, as did Radio 2. Dutch musicians Trijntje Oosterhuis, Guus Meeuwis, Bløf and René Froger performed various Hazes’songs.
Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen spoke to the crowd and said Hazes was “pure sincerity and was averse to injustice”.
“Andre was a normal boy, but at the same time power of his voice and the power of his songs made him exceptional. [He was both] normal and exceptional. Thank you Andre,” the mayor said.
Dutch soccer icon Johan Cruijff and television celebrity Paul de Leeuw also spoke at the event, which was organised by record company EMI and concert promoter Mojo.
Mojo and the singer’s widow Rachel has established a foundation to erect a statue in memory of the much-loved performer.
People interested in donating money for the construction of the statue can deposit money into the giro account 369. Mojo says it is searching for a “beautiful place” in Amsterdam in which to erect the statue.
Sales of the crooner’s CDs have rocketed since his death.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news