Born Herman George van Loenhout and called the Dutch Bob Dylan, Armand was to counterculture in Holland what LSD was to Aldous Huxley – almost inseparable, with his ever constant joint or ‘chillum’ smoking away and long bright red hair that falls long past his shoulders onto his even brighter indian style 60’s shirts of silks and satins – an honourable and yearly judge of the Cannabis Cup Holland, to being filmed for channel 4’s Euro Trash. A character by any measure of the word. A man that will be missed dearly, not only by his family but a nation.
On the day he died in 2015, TV presenters on nearly every local and national News show in the Netherlands lit a big fat typical dutch cone joint and passed it around as an ode to the man who gave a voice to a generation that in those years where almost voiceless. What little noise they could make was made on pirate radio station boats like Veronica Radio, she was anchored in international waters to avoid the strict policies and views of a Dutch nation who had not yet legalized cannabis nor truly experienced its own revolution of the 60’s hippie and love culture that spread in the western world. Parents at war with their children because of the culture differences that sparked his biggest hit “Ben Ik te Min“(1965) it spent fourteen weeks at the top of Dutch top 40’s in 1967. Roughly translated the title meant “Am I too little/Am I less”.
In a time when a free spirit was met with caution he sang that love and passion are honest in nature and can never be bought, taught or lost. That just because he never made it through secondary education and drove a smaller car than his then girlfriend’s father, was a poet and singer that he was no less to be recognised for being alive free and happy. That being born poor did not make you poor of character or style.
In 2011, four years before his death he was working with Dutch rappers on the remixing of his hit with lyrical flows from famous and arguably the top Dutch rapper of all time Ali-B. Recognised by a nation as a man who did, talked, walked and smoked what he wanted while blowing the thick clouds of smoke in the face of Dutch standards of the time. A stark reminder for all the upper class stiff lipped forefathers that people will always find ways to express what is in their hearts no matter how many frowns, jeers or threats. A peaceful man who taught and sang of peaceful things yet being put forward as the face of revolution. Everything that the powers that be thought was wrong with the youth. He flew his freak flag high and proud for all to see. A call to all who were sick of being told what they could hear, how they should dance or to live. To make noise and gather towards like minded folk to make an honest change. They were out there the state found out in 1967 when he hit the main airways. They were out there and they were scary to the status quo but little did it slow the change that lit Holland alight with the thick smoke of legalised Hashish and Marijuana. From hippie drum circles forward to Gabber and everything in between the cracks of polite society he helped pave the way for the youth to feel confident in being true to themselves – to make the world a brighter place both figuratively and literally.
I think in closing it can be best said with words already oft spoken; that were printed on the memorial card given at his funeral which read:
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;-
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
Arthur O’Shaughnessy, 1874