Herman was more than just an artist. Only recently I read a quote from his biographer who said that he was the ultimate rock 'n roll artist. Unlike Jagger, Richards or other famous rockstars, he lived the rock 'n roll life 24/24. He didn't rest in-between tours, he never retreated to his mansion. He didn't even make money; everything he earned was consumed immediately. On drugs, booze, prostitutes or on whatever he felt like at the time. He was a speed addict for over 30 years, but his main drug was adrenaline. His life was never dull, he always made sure that something happened, nobody in his surroundings could follow his lifestyle. Apparently he slept only one night out of two.
A couple of years back he celebrated his 50th birthday. He did this in style, tv-programms, special shows, a biography, special songs. The whole country joined in. The book 'Broodje Gezond' by Bart Chabot gave an insight into the life he led, an ever-continuing story of searching diversion. Funny parts deal with his drug addiction. At some point a doctor takes pity on him and wants to help out. Ashamed of the amount he takes, he only requests half of his daily dose, upon which the doctor is stunned and tells him that that is 4 times a lethal amount. His body seemed immune to drugs and his bad lifestyle. During his last years the body finally gave in, Herman realised that he couldn't live the life he wanted and talked about suicide with several friends. Wednesday he took the step.
Apart from his music, he was a multi talented artist. His paintings were famous and his poetry got published. He never paid for a train ticket, when asked he produced a drawing that was always worth more than the fare. Over 30 years he was a Dutch celebrity, playing in the country's only ever blues band Cuby and the Blizzards, later forming his own band The Wild Romance. Some of his hits got famous abroad as well, like 'Saturday night' and 'Never be clever'. Lately he had made a jazzy album and posed with a saxophone. Not because he played the instrument, but because he liked the image.
Herman never cared about what people thought, he lived his life the way he wanted, knew he was a bad father for his kids, though he loved them madly. Personally I've got two memories of seeing him. The first time was when I lived in Amsterdam. I went to see a comedian in a theatre and noticed a queue early that evening outside the Paradiso, the famous pop temple, who were waiting for the doors to open for a concert. It turned out to be Herman Brood that evening. At the end of the evening when I walked home, the queue had become huge. A big crowd missed what I saw. The main act of the evening was due to arrive. Herman arrived on an old pushbike, the type grannies normally use to go shopping. On the back he had a gorgeous blonde, who was young enough to be his daughter. Not the big star, who uses security and a back entrance, he had just taken the bike, as everyone in Amsterdam does and arrived just before the concert was about to start.
The second memory was a concert in my hometown, only about 3 years ago. Herman always toured the country a lot, he must have performed in almost every dump the Netherlands has. That night he didn't seem very inspired. After less than half an hour, he and his band went back into the locker room, making the audience wonder what went wrong. I have been told that the pile of drugs backstage that night was unprecedented in this hall, a place that had been into problems because of pills and dealers only years before. After that break he came back and gave a brilliant show. The show wasn't sold out, but everyone who was there will remember the gig.
The follow up to the biography was due any moment. I guess the last chapter might need some corrections. Herman Brood was 54 years. The world will be duller without him.