My Man: 45th anniversary of Luv's promising debut single
Dernière mise à jour : 10 sept.
Patty Brard, Marga Scheide & José Hoebee as Luv' in 1977
The release of a debut record is a milestone in the career of any singer or band. Forty-five years ago precisely, on May 21st, 1977, "My Man" by the legendary girl group Luv' entered the Tipparade (the Dutch Bubbling Under Top 40 chart). The next month, it reached the Dutch single charts (Top 40 and Nationale Hitparade) and the Belgian hit parades (BRT Top 30 and Ultratop). The female triumvirate became a pop sensation the following year in the Low Countries and abroad.
My Man's chart run happened in a particular context: it coincided with an infamous train hijacking. Here's the story of Luv's first single...
In 1976, the well established Dutch record producer and songwriter Hans van Hemert (who had already scored numerous hits with pop acts including Mouth & MacNeal, Sandra & Andres and Kamahl) watched Disco girl group "Silver Convention" performing on German television. Inspired by the visual aspect of this combo (one dark-skinned girl and two white girls), he came up with a wonderful idea: why not form his own female pop trio?
The formation of a manufactured pop band (twenty years before the Spice Girls phenomenon) was new in Holland at the time.
Luv': the long quest for a perfect trio
Hans van Hemert teamed up with composer-arranger Piet Souer and manager Han Meijer to launch his project. They were searching for three good looking female singers. They had already recorded the music of a self-penned composition entitled "My Man".
Patty: an ambitious wannabe
Patty Brard (born on March 25th, 1955, in Sorong, West Papua/Indonesia) was the first to be discovered. Van Hemert met the exotic beauty during an evening at Café 't Bonte Paard in Laren, the Netherlands. She and the successful producer clicked rapidly and even had an affair. Patty was introduced as Hans' secretary. But it seemed that the burning desire of the sexy Indo Dutch girl was to reach fame and fortune. Han Meijer decided to let her have an audition for the group. Patty gave a positive impression, and thus she became the first Luv' singer.
La Brard told another version of how she joined Luv' in her 2020 best-selling biography written by Michel van Egmond and Antoinnette Scheulderman): "I worked at an advertising agency as an accountant assistant for brands like Colgate and Whiskas. One day, music manager Han Meijer entered the office. I was working at the reception. He said: "You don't belong here. Because of your look, you should not work in an office". He put me in touch with Hans van Hemert, a record producer at Phonogram. I started officially as an executive secretary in his office, but I rapidly went to Luv's auditions". When Antoinnette Scheulderman asked Patty what she did professionally before Luv's formation, she answered: "Well, a lot of things, but there were always crazy things going on. For example, I worked as a freelance stylist via a temporary employment agency for a while. Film producer Dino de Laurentiis hired me and took me to the South of France. This man worked with Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Ridley Scott, Stephen King and won an Oscar...".
The 21-year-old wannabe was torn between two difficult choices: working for the cinema industry with a movie mogul or being part of a girl group. When Antoinnette Scheulderman wanted to know if she accepted Dino de Laurentiis' offer, Patty replied: "Yes, immediately. On my first day, his daughter Raffaella came in. "Do you speak foreign languages?" she asked. "Cause we're going to take you to the film festivals in Cannes and Milan". That's how I started to do some PR work on the remake of King Kong. I was introduced to the most incredible people. The De Laurentiis family showed me all of the Côte d'Azur. It felt like: "Look how good life is here". Meanwhile, Hans van Hemert wanted me for Luv'. I had to choose. They wanted me so badly for this group that I agreed to join it. I also had the feeling that the world was always at my feet. I realized much later that this situation was not everlasting".
Theatrical release poster of the 1976 remake of "King Kong", produced by Dino de Laurentiis. Patty Brard was part of the PR department on this film.
After Patty's recruitment, dozens of other candidates auditioned. Yvonne de Vries (sister of Lia Velasco, a singer from Han Meijer's artist roster) even recorded a demo of "My Man", but she wasn't convincing enough to join Luv'. A red-haired girl, Marijke Op't Hof (wife of Dutch drummer Ton Op 't Hof) was found as well as a blonde girl, Willemijn Damave. But Willewijn was too tall and she wasn't selected in the end.
José: an experienced vocalist
Piet Souer asked José van de Wijdeven (born on March 29th, 1954 in Best, the Netherlands) to be a member of Luv'. At age 15, she made her debut in a folk & country band (Young Tradition) with her two sisters (Marijke and Yvonne) and her best friend Ad van Genechten. This group toured the folk circuit in North Brabant.
Young Tradition covered folk classics initially performed by Bob Dylan, Donovan, Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen.
The Van de Wijdeven sisters from left to right: Yvonne, José and Marijke
Young Tradition: Yvonne, José, Marijke and Ad
In 1971, the quartet was discovered by Piet Souer on a talent show "Het cabaret der onbekenden" (the cabaret of the unknowns) in Eindhoven.
Around the same time, they also performed on Ted de Braak's popular radio show "Van twaalf tot twee" on KRO.
Young Tradition in the early 1970s
On August 19th, 1972, Young Tradition took part in the final of the TV talent show "Nieuwe Oogst" (New Harvest) as part of the Drieluik program on AVRO channel and finished second.
Leeuwarder courant - August 18th, 1972 - Article about the final of Nieuwe Oogst (Drieluik) on AVRO/Nederland 1 broadcast the following day
Click here to read the article online
In addition to her musical career, José did odd jobs for a living. One of them was posing as a teen photo model for the Gervaise clothing store in Uden.
In 1976, José, Marijke and Yvonne formed a new group named after the first single they recorded with Piet Souer: "Elongi". It was a cover version of a Makossa and World Music classic initially performed by Cameroonian singer Ekambi Brillant in 1975.
José, Marijke & Yvonne as Elongi in 1976
Elongi's version recorded by the Van de Wijdeven sisters had English lyrics written by Piet Souer. It came out in the Spring of 1976 and flopped.
Elongi - 1976
After several months of auditions, the three Luv' singers were finally found. But there was a problem: José was not blonde and refused to dye her hair. Hans was determined about the image of his creation. Two dark-haired girls were not satisfying for him, and José had to leave Luv'.
Marga Scheide: a sought-after photo model and beauty queen
A blonde singer had to be chosen. That's how Marga Scheide (born on February 15th, 1954 in Amsterdam) was cast. At the age of 16, she was spotted by a modelling scout. She became a photo model. In the 1970s, she participated in several advertising campaigns (including lemonade SiSi, "bintje" (a potato variety), Quick Tanning and Yamaha motorcycles). Moreover, she appeared on the covers of various artist hit compilations.
Marga also took part in several beauty contests, including Miss Holland 1971, Miss Holland 1972 (where she was second runner-up), Miss Holland 1973, Miss Holland 1977 (second runner-up), Miss Young International 1972, Miss Europa 1975 and Miss Grand Prix 1976.
Marga (second from the left) at the Miss Holland 1972 contest
Article about 18-year-old Marga as "Miss Young Holland" at a polling place - Trouw - November 30th, 1972 - Click here to read it online.
Article about Miss Holland 1973 broadcast on television - Algemeen Dagblad - March 7th, 1973 - Click here to read it online
Article about Miss Holland 1973 (including Marga Scheide) - Het Parool - March 10th, 1973
Click here to read it online
Article in Limburgsch dagblad - March 10th, 1973
Click here to read it online
British racing driver James Hunt congratulating Marga Scheide after her victory at the Miss Grand Prix 1976 contest
Meanwhile, José was called back. Hans wanted an experienced vocalist next to Patty and Marga. After she accepted to apply a red tint to her hair, Marijke op 't Hof left the trio, and José got the job.
Here's what she remembered from the long and arduous process of forming Luv' when American author James Arena interviewed her for his book "Stars of 80s Dance Pop - The European Edition" (2015):
"At first, the group's producer, Hans van Hemert, wanted to do a three-girl group like The Ronettes or The Shangri-Las - that kind of style. It took a very long time to put the group together. He wanted a blonde girl (a prom queen type), an exotic dark-haired girl and an innocent girl-next-door type. Everyone in the audience would have one to like or relate to. When I came on board, they had the dark-haired girl and a redhead for the girl-next-door image. I auditioned, and they told me I was the only one who got the music right, and they said I'd have to dye my hair blonde. I said no way. Forty years ago or so, that was a big change to make, and I refused. I told them they'd have to find another girl. A week later, they called me back and tried to convince me again. Again I refused. One more week passed, and they got in touch again, this time saying I would be the (natural) redhead."
After months of casting, Luv's official line-up consisted of Patty, Marga and José. The ladies were ready to conquer the charts!!!
The first time that the Netherlands heard of Luv' was via an article published in February 1977 in the Panorama magazine featuring Patty Brard (illustrated with sexy pictures). "Sometimes I supervise the styling for artists on TV programs such as TopPop or The Eddy Becker Show. I know some people in the showbiz. A manager asked me if I could sing. He was looking for a dark-skinned singer to be part of a trio in addition to a lighter-skinned girl and a blonde girl. I said: "I've never sung a note". He didn't have a problem with thatn and before I knew it, I was in the studio with Hans van Hemert. I thought I wasn't good enough. I had to sing and be accompanied on the piano, although I had never sung anything before. But I succeeded. So who knows? Maybe I'll be soon on TopPop. The trio is probably going to be called "Liquid Love". I've no idea what it means. I choose what we will wear for performances," Patty told Panorama.
Patty Brard in Panorama
A few weeks before the release of Luv's first record, Marga Scheide finished second runner-up at the Miss Holland 1977 contest. Her participation in a beauty pageant might seem strange as she was also involved in the music business. Later in interviews, the blonde lady explained that she kept modelling at the beginning of Luv's career. She became totally devoted to the group only after "You're the Greatest Lover" reached the number-one spot in September 1978.
Marga Scheide finished third at the Miss Holland 1977 contest - article published in
Het vrĳe volk on April 22nd, 1977 - click here to read it online
In May 1977, Phonogram/Philips Records released "My Man" as a single. The lyrics of this ABBA-esque track dealt with a widow mourning her fiancé's death (her husband-to-be being a railroad man who was shot to death).
On May 21st, 1977, Luv's debut single entered the Tipparade (the Dutch Bubbling Under Top 40 chart) at #14. Two days later, a sad event occurred and affected My man's promotion in the media. A train was hijacked at De Punt, a village in the Dutch province of Drenthe. Nine armed Moluccan nationalists pulled the emergency brake and took over 50 people hostage. The hijacking lasted 20 days and ended with a raid by Dutch counter-terrorist special forces, during which two hostages and six hijackers were killed.
What happened during De Punt train hijacking? (2017) - NOS op 3
Due to its lyrics related to a railroad drama, "My Man" was removed from the playlist of Dutch radio stations. Despite this controversy and radio boycott, the record entered the main Dutch and Flemish charts.
"My Man" premiered on May 20th, 1977, on television on the TROS show "Disco Circus", hosted by Ferry Maat and produced by John de Mol. Penney de Jager did the choreography for the song.
Luv' on Disco Circus
In interviews, the Luv' ladies explained that the audition for the TV program was a bit humiliating. They had to perform their track in John de Mol's office. The Dutch media tycoon didn't look at the girls during the audition because he felt uncomfortable. The three singers first thought that he was arrogant. It appeared later that the TV producer was embarrassed because of how the audition was held. Out of respect for Luv', he could not look them in the eyes.
The trio later performed "My Man" on the popular music TV show "AVRO's TopPop".
Luv' on Avro's TopPop (Broadcast date: June 14th, 1977)
The Dutch and Flemish press started to write articles about the newly created girl group.
Algemeen Dagblad - June 15th, 1977 - Click here to read the article online
Luv' on the shoulders of Phonogram pluggers (in charge of radio promotion)
The trio went on a promo tour in the German Democratic Republic, which was at the time a communist dictatorship linked with the Soviet Union. The Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain existed back then. On June 13th, 1977, Luv' sang their single and "Don't Let Me Down" (its B-side) on the East German TV show "Rund".
Luv' on Rund - Photo montage by Marco Rens
Here's what Marga said about this special moment in GDR when Peter Boonstra interviewed her for his book "The Story of Luv'" (2015): "I remember that an old male make-up artist was in charge of us. He only had a small box with eyeshadow and two lipsticks, whereas I had a whole bag full of cosmetic products. I wanted to give him my stuff but I didn't dare do it. I was afraid he would have been embarrassed."
With the East German money they earned, Marga, José and Patty went shopping in East Berlin to buy clothes. But the choice was very limited. Because East German currency was worthless in Western countries, they decided to buy teddy bears and to distribute them in the streets.
Promo picture of Luv' in East Berlin in June 1977 (courtesy of Marco Rens)
Luv' backstage at Rund (East German TV)
On August 13th, 1977, Luv' sang "My Man" on the successful West German TV show "Musikladen". Amanda Lear, Baccara, Bonnie Tyler, Laurent Voulzy and Veronica Unlimited (another Van Hemert's production) were the other guests on the same program.
Photos edited by Marco Rens
Luv' on Musikladen
Shortly after their German adventures, the Dutch celebrity gossip press decided to put the ladies in the spotlight. Privé magazine published a sensationalist article entitled "Nude scenes made the mothers of Luv' girls blush". Luv' were supposed to be naked on "Musikladen". Actually, it wasn't true. The silhouettes of another trio of girls (the famous Musikladen go-go dancers) appeared on the show, giving the impression they were naked. In this same article, Marga said that "they were treated like Barbra Streisand in East Germany". "We are often sad because people only focus on our looks and don't take our singing seriously. You cannot blame us for looking good," the blonde singer told Privé.
"My Man" was a promising debut for Luv', but the ladies experienced their international breakthrough the following year. But that's another story....
* May 20th, 1977: Disco Circus (TROS), Netherlands
* June 13th, 1977: Rund (Fernsehen der DDR), East Germany
Don't Let Me Down
* June 14th and 21st, 1977: Avro's TopPop, Netherlands
* August 13th, 1977: Musikladen (Radio Bremen), West Germany
On May 21st, 1977, Luv's debut single entered the Tipparade (the Dutch Bubbling Under Top 40 chart) at #14, two days before the above-mentioned train hijacking. On June 11th, 1977, the day the terrorist attack ended, "My Man" entered Holland's main singles chart, the Dutch Top 40, and later peaked at #12. It reached the same position on the other relevant Dutch hitlist: the Nationale Hitparade. The record also charted in Belgium: #10 on the Flemish BRT Top 30, #11 on the Ultratop Flanders and #47 on the Ultratop Wallonia. It peaked at #19 on the Europarade (a compilation of charts from the Netherlands, UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Spain).
Tracklisting & release
7" vinyl single (45 rpm) - original release by Phonogram/Philips Records in May 1977
A side: My Man (Janschen & Janschens) - 3:05
B side: Don't Let Me Down (Janschen & Janschens) - 2:35
Vocals: José Hoebee, Marga Scheide & Patty Brard
Producer: Hans van Hemert
Arranger/conductor: Piet Souer
Manager: Han Meijer
Click here for details about the release of My Man.
Original Dutch cover
Bolivian edition (1981)
"Top 40 Hitdossier 1956-2005 (9e editie)" by Johan van Slooten, publisher: Gottmer Bech - 2006
"Stars of 80s Dance Pop, The European Edition" by James Arena, publisher: AuthorHouse - 2015 - re-edited as "Europe's Stars of '80s Dance Pop Vol. 2: 33 International Hitmakers Discuss Their Careers", publisher : BookBaby, 2018
"The Story of Luv'" by Peter Boonstra -2015
"Patty: de negen levens van Patty Brard" by Antoinnette Scheulderman and Michel van Egmond, publisher: Inside - 2020
Source: Luv' Weblog archives, Facebook (Official Luv', LUV' fan page), Wikipedia, Discogs.com, 45cat.com, Delpher.nl, YouTube, Dutchcharts.nl, ANP Historisch Archief, Krant van toen...