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  • Photo du rédacteurRalph Ruiz

Ria Thielsch: The Luv' Years

Thanks Ria and Marco Rens for making this article possible.

Photo by Robert Hoetink - edited by Marco Rens

Ria Thielsch was a great asset to the Luv' concept. She came twice to the rescue of Marga Scheide and José Hoebee when they needed a third member to complete the trio. The fans rapidly accepted her as a member of Luv' and are eternally grateful to her. Here's a portrait of this classy and independent lady.

Legendary record producer Hans van Hemert had a clear vision for his girl group when he launched it in late 1976. He wanted a combo consisting of a blonde girl (Marga Scheide as a Prom Queen type), a dark-haired girl (José Hoebee as a girl next door) and an Asian girl (Patty Brard as an exotic beauty).

Summer of 1980: Luv's sudden and difficult transition

Luv's original trio scored hit after hit for a couple of years in their homeland and abroad. Pop singles U.O.Me (February 1978), You're the Greatest Lover (July 1978), Trojan Horse (November 1978), Casanova (April 1979), Eeny Meeny Miny Moe (August 1979), Ooh, Yes I Do (October 1979), Ann-Maria (February 1980) and One More Little Kissy (May 1980) took the record charts of 17 countries by storm. The ladies even won a Conamus Export Prize for "best selling Dutch group abroad" to reward their 2.5 million records sold outside of the Netherlands in 1979. They collected gold and platinum awards.

Patty Brard left Luv' unexpectedly in July 1980. The Dutch press and the fans didn't understand why this departure occured. On the surface, Patty, Marga and José seemed happy. They had been so successful since 1978. But tensions appeared between the ladies behind the scenes. Patty was romantically involved with Italian record producer Carlo Nasi who lived and worked in Los Angeles, CA, far away from Europe, where the group was active and popular. She was fed up with Luv's hectic schedule, which was hard to combine with her private life. She only communicated with the other girls and their manager Pim ter Linde through her lawyer. Because she suffered from stress, her doctor decided that she had to be on sick leave for a month. This sad news was terrible for Luv' as the trio had big plans for the future (including a promo tour in the USSR, a participation in the Yamaha Music Festival in Japan and the filming of a TV series). All of a sudden, these projects had to be cancelled.

Ria Thielsch: the perfect choice for Luv'

When it became clear that Patty would not come back, a replacement had to be found. A club owner in Zevenhuizen, the Netherlands, threatened Luv' to start legal action if the ladies did not perform. The group might pay 50.000 Dutch guilders if they didn't sing. To avoid this penalty, a new girl had to be recruited. Photo model Ria Thielsch was chosen. Marga Scheide knew her from her modelling years before Luv'. Like Patty, Ria had Indonesian and New Guinean origins and bore a resemblance to her.

Ria's pre-Luv' career (1968 - 1980)

Ria Thielsch was born in Manokwari, West Papua-New Guinea, on August 25th, 1951. In the late 1960s, she started modelling at the age of 17 via her older sister, who was already a model. Ria and her sibling even worked together. At that time, Twiggy was a trendsetter in the fashion industry and a global sensation.

Ria and her sister in the 1970s

At age 23, she became a limbo dancer in addition to her photo shoots. She was later part of the Ricardo & The Flames group, which recorded in 1979 a single entitled "Trinidad" and produced by Roy Beltman (who collaborated previously with the legendary band BZN). The record flopped.

Front cover of "Trinidad" by Ricardo and The Flames - released by Mercury Records in 1979

Trinidad by Ricardo & The Flames (audio)

Ria met Luv' during a show on Swiss television. She remembered her first meeting with the original trio when I interviewed her five years ago: "My first encounter with Luv' dated back to the time I was a limbo dancer and a member of "Ricardo & The Flames" in 1979. We released a single which flopped. We appeared on the same TV show as Luv' in Switzerland. This is when I saw Patty, José and Marga with their manager Pim ter Linde for the first time. We lunched backstage with all the artists, and they sat in front of me. They were staring at me, and I asked a colleague: "Who are they? Why are they looking at me like that?". "They are Luv'," she answered. "Oh, I've never heard of them," I replied. I didn't know them, and I didn't listen to their music. I listened more to American and English bands (like Dire Straits, for example). Back then, I danced on weekends and worked as a full-time model".

August 1980: Ria's first performance with Luv'

Ria told me about how she joined Luv' in my 2017 interview: "After Patty left Luv', Pim contacted me because the group still had legal obligations. He remembered our above-mentioned meeting in Switzerland. The club owner in Zevenhuizen threatened Luv' to start legal action if they did not perform. That's why a new girl had to be recruited. I had an audition. I had to sing a Linda Ronstadt song. Piet Souer (who co-wrote Luv' songs with Hans van Hemert) accompanied me on the guitar. My first performance with Luv' in Zevenhuizen was supposed to be a one-off."

Ria started to rehearse with her new colleagues shortly after Patty's defection. Meanwhile, record producer Hans van Hemert and manager Pim ter Linde confirmed to the press that Luv' would go on whatever the line-up. In an interview published in De Telegraaf on August 19th, 1980, Van Hemert explained that five singles (recorded with Patty) were scheduled for release and that her illness caused Luv' to lose thousands of guilders. So the end of the lucrative group was out of the question.

De Telegraaf - August 19th, 1980

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Leeuwarder Courant - August 20th, 1980

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Nieuwsblad van het Noorden - August 20th, 1980 Click here to read the article online

De Telegraaf - August 21st, 1980 Click here to read the article online.

Nieuwsblad van het Noorden - August 22nd, 1980 Click here to read the article.

At first, Luv's team was reluctant to Ria's recruitment due to her resemblance to Patty. Her first performance with Luv' in Zevenhuizen on August 22nd, 1980, was promising and was supposed to be a one-off. The press mentioned Patty's replacement one day after the show and even misspelt her name (Ria Thiel, Ria Tiel or Ria Tiels instead of Ria Thielsch).

Nieuwsblad van het Noorden - August 23rd, 1980: Luv's first gig with Ria

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De Telegraaf - August 25th, 1980

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Leeuwarder courant - August 25th, 1980

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De Telegraaf - August 30th, 1980: Luv' will keep on singing

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Hitkrant - late August 1980: Patty wants to stay

The first gig of Luv's new line-up was convincing, but Ter Linde continued auditions with 200 other candidates. At some point, Luv's management even considered the recruitment of Dutch pop singer Anita Meyer and male actor Rick Luyckx. But this decision would have damaged the trio's concept, and the public would not accept it.

September 1980: Ria Thielsch as a permanent member of Luv'

Luv' in 1980: Ria Thielsch, Marga Scheide & José Hoebee

After Patty confirmed her departure, Ria was allowed to be part of Luv' permanently. On September 16th, 1980, the announcement of her definitive replacement was on the front page of De Telegraaf.

De Telegraaf - September 16th, 1980.

Click here to read the article online. Ria Thielsch's name was misspelt.

De Telegraaf ("Privé" - entertainment section) - September 16th, 1980 (part 2). Click here to read the article online.

Luv's line-up change generated a lot of publicity in the media. Even the notorious American music industry trade magazines Billboard and Cashbox mentioned it.

Hitkrant - September 11th, 1980

Hitkrant - September 11th, 1980

Muziek Parade - September 1980

Limburgsch dagblad - September 17th, 1980 Click here to read the article online

Algemeen Dagblad - September 17th, 1980

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Nieuwsblad van het Noorden - September 18th, 1980 Click here to read the article online

Hitkrant - September 18th, 1980

Hitkrant - September 25th, 1980

Joepie, September 28th, 1980

Hitkrant - October 2nd, 1980

Joepie - October 5th, 1980

Billboard magazine - October 11th, 1980

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Cashbox - November 1st, 1980

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Weekend - October 11th, 1980

Mix - 1980

Ria's real assessment happened when her charisma was put to the test on television. The viewers discovered the new Luv' girl when she performed "One More Little Kissy" with her colleagues on "Boemerang", a Flemish TV program on BRT channel, on September 27th, 1980.

Luv' on Boemerang (Ria's first TV performance with José and Marga)

Montage by Marco Rens

Photo edited by Marco Rens

Autumn 1980: My Number One and Forever Yours, smash hits in the Low Countries

Original Dutch cover of "My Number One"

The next step was the release of the single "My Number One". This song used elements from the military march and is Luv's best single, according to record producer Hans van Hemert. The record's release party took place in late October 1980 in the villa of the group's manager. On that occasion, Dutch powerlifter Gerard du Prie (who won the "Strongest Man of the Netherlands" competition in 1979) was present and lifted the ladies in front of the photographers.

De Waarheid - November 1st, 1980

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Hitkrant - November 6th, 1980

One of the earliest mentions of My Number One was an article in the Dutch newspaper Het Vrije Volk published on October 25th, 1980.

Click here to read the article online.

As the new single came out, it was announced that Luv' would stop their live performances in 1981 to focus on their recordings as well as TV and radio shows.

Hitkrant - October 23rd, 1980

De Telegraaf - October 27th, 1980

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Dutch teen magazine Hitkrant set up a contest for its readers to know which position Luv's new single would reach on the Top 40. The contest winners could meet the Luv' singers for tea time.

Hitkrant - October 30th, 1980: Which position will My Number One reach on the Dutch Top 40?

Hitkrant - January 1981: Results of the contest: My Number One peaking at #5 and two lucky winners to meet Luv' for tea time

On October 31st, 1980, My Number One premiered on the influential Veronica/Hilversum 3 radio station and AVRO's TopPop on TV. Veronica chose the single on November 8th, 1980, as "Alarmschijf" (record of the week or hit tip). It was played in heavy rotation to make it a hit record.

AVRO's TopPop on October 31st, 1980

The ladies performed their song on other TV programs in Holland (Ted Show, Rockplanet, Veronica Awards, Flip Fluitketel Show).

Music video for My Number One

Ted Show (NCRV) on November 8th, 1980

Veronica Awards on Veronica on November 19th, 1980

De Flip Fluitketel Show (December 1st, 1980)

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During the Autumn of 1980, Luv' kept appearing in the Dutch, Flemish and German press.

Joepie - October 26th, 1980 Click here to read the article online

Article about Ria in Algemeen Dagblad - November 1st, 1980

Veronica Magazine - November 29th, 1980

Moreover, Luv' were supposed to participate in the World Popular Song Festival (also known as Yamaha Music Festival) in Tokyo, Japan, with the track "Be My Lover Tonight" in November 1980. This contest could have meant their breakthrough in Asia. Instead, the trio preferred to perform on the legendary TV show Musikladen in Germany, Luv's biggest export market.

Musikladen (Radio Bremen), West Germany - November 13th, 1980

Luv' on Musikladen - Photo published in German teen magazine Bravo (November 1980)

Article in Hitkrant - November 20th, 1980: Due to Marga's flu, Luv' had to cancel a live performance in Belgium. However, the doctor allowed Marga to perform on Musikladen only if she got out of bed for six hours.

This media exposure paid off as "My Number One" became successful in the Netherlands and Belgium. The pop song peaked at #15 on the Europarade (a compilation of European charts). It reached #4 on the Nationale Hitparade and #5 on the Dutch Top 40 in the Netherlands as well as #5 on the BRT Top 30 and #7 on the Ultratop in Belgium. Luv' seemed to be back for good, and Ria was accepted by the fans thanks to "My Number One" popularity.

Meanwhile, the Luv' ladies (as fit Dutch celebrities) were sponsored by the Le Coq Sportif, the French sports equipment manufacturing company.

In early December 1980, CNR/Carrere Records put out Luv's album "Forever Yours" (including the smash hit "My Number One").

Front cover of "Forever Yours"

Luv's record company organized a special event to launch "Forever Yours". During the "Nacht van CNR" (Night of CNR), which took place approximately between late November and early December 1980, 21.000 copies of the LP were packed to be distributed in shops all over the country. Producer Hans van Hemert and his protégées, the Luv' girls, helped the workers symbolically pack up the records in the factory. Within a few days, 33.000 copies of Luv's LP were shipped to Dutch record shops.

Article about "De Nacht van CNR" published in Hitkrant on December 4th, 1980

On December 10th, 1980, the Dutch chain of department stores V&D launched the Christmas campaign "Een Muzikale Kerst" published simultaneously in local and national newspapers (Algemeen Dagbald, Limburgsch dagblad, Het Parool, Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, Leeuwarder courant, Het vrije volk). This advertising campaign promoted albums sold for Christmas. One of these records was Forever Yours.

Ad published in Algemeen Dagblad - December 10th, 1980

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V&D's Christmas campaign "Een Muzikale Kerst" published in Algemeen Dagbald, Limburgsch dagblad, Het Parool, Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, Leeuwarder courant and Het vrije volk on December 10th, 1980

This national promotion was effective. Forever Yours entered the Dutch album charts on December 13th, 1980. It later peaked at #13 on the LP Top 50 and #5 on the Nationale Hitparade Top 50.

Montage by Co Rnz

Winter 1980 - 1981: Luv' in danger

In mid-December, as Luv's single and album were still high on the charts, an incident occurred and brought the trio to a standstill. Marga Scheide became overworked and suffered from a burn-out. On December 18th, 1980, De Telegraaf published an article about the blonde singer who fainted during the rehearsals for the TV show Popcorn. She had to be on sick leave until February 1st, 1981. Once again, Luv' were inactive. The ladies had to cancel all their TV performances and other plans.

De Telegraaf - December 18th, 1980

Click here to read the article online

The interruption of Luv' activities had bad consequences on the foreign record sales. "My Number One" was a minor hit in Germany. It entered the Musikmarkt/Media Control Chart on December 22nd, 1980, peaked at #60 and only stayed two weeks on the German hit parade. Marga's illness stopped the progression of the record in the charts.

Despite Marga's absence, Luv' still hit the headlines.

The January 1st, 1981 edition of Hitkrant featured a photo of Ria Thielsch wishing the readers a happy new year.

Hitkrant - January 1st, 1981 - Ria Thielsch toasting: "For me a new start, for Luv' a musical continuation in 1981"

The Luv' singers graced the cover of the January 8th, 1981 issue of Hitkrant.

Marga Scheide's situation didn't improve. The blonde Luv' singer was supposed to be back in business in February 1981. After weeks of inactivity, she tried to work again with José and Ria, but she was ill again. The trio had to cancel three performances on French TV hastily. Luv's end was near.

March 1981: Luv's (first) break-up

In an article published on March 3rd, 1981, in Het Vrije Volk, journalist Louis Du Moulin wrote that Luv's break-up was about to be announced. On the following days, the Dutch media (including Nieuwsblad van het NoordenLeeuwarder courant, Limburgsch dagblad, Algemeen Dagblad, De Telegraaf, Algemeen Dagblad and Hitkrant) reported the dissolution of Holland's greatest girl group.

It was the end of a brief and intense international success story (1977-1981). 12 singles, 4 albums, 14 gold and platinum records, a string of hits scored in seventeen countries, one Dutch export award (Conamus Export Prize), 7 million records sold, TV shows, magazine covers...

After Luv's dissolution, Ria kept a low profile for several weeks. Flemish magazine Joepie told that she was approached by record producer Julien van Wordragen to join the Belgian girl group Bordeaux Rouge. Van Wordragen put the record straight when he said there was a misunderstanding about his intentions with Ria. Nothing concrete was decided. In the end, Ria was never part of another group and never put out a solo record.

Article published in Joepie on April 5th, 1981

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Summer of 1981: Luv's (so-called) farewell

On June 18th, 1981, Marga, José and Ria caused a sensation when they took part in the Hitkrant's zomerspelen (a summer multi-sport event with celebrities that Hitkrant sponsored) at the Efteling theme park. On that occasion, a handprint ceremony with the girls was organized for the official launch of the Efteling's latest attraction: the "Python" roller coaster.

Picture published in Dagblad van Rijn en Gouwe (June 19th, 1981)

Het Vrije Volk - June 19th, 1981

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Algemeen Dagblad - June 19th, 1981

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Hitkrant - July 16th, 1981

Ria at the Hitkrant's Zomerspelen - photo by Barry van Cornewal - Edited by Marco Rens

Photo by Siegfried Stelte - Edited by Marco Rens

In the meantime, TROS DJ Hugo van Gelderen started to play Luv's track "Tingalingaling" often on the radio. This uptempo post-disco and synthpop song was taken from the "Forever Yours" album. It was so popular among the listeners and the fans that CNR/Carrere Records decided to release it as a single.

Front cover of Tingalingaling

On July 14th, 1981, Marga, José and Ria took part in a photoshoot in the garden of the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel.

De Telegraaf - July 15th, 1981 Click here to read the article online

Luv' made a farewell performance on July 22nd, 1981, on Veronica's TV show "Nederland Muziekland" to the public's great surprise. The program was taped in Spakenburg, Netherlands. The ladies lip-synced "Tingalingaling". Marga was at that time reluctant to plan a comeback, and José intended to launch her solo career. However, Willem-Jan van de Wetering (general manager of Luv's record company) convinced them to appear on this unique show.

Tingalingaling on Nederland Muziekland

Algemeen Dagblad - July 21st, 1981

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Leeuwarder Courant - July 22nd, 1981

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Nieuwsblad van het Noorden - July 22nd, 1981

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Article published in Joepie on August 2nd, 1981

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The trio was supposed to sing at a UNICEF gala in Greece (broadcast on Eurovision) but their participation in this show was cancelled.

Article about the UNICEF gala in Greece

Because Tingalingaling was not actively promoted by Luv' in the media, it became a moderate hit in the Netherlands. It peaked at #29 on the Dutch Top 40 and #15 on the Nationale Hitparade in Holland in August 1981.

In September 1981, Luv's compilation "Goodbye Luv" (including the repertoire from 1979 to 1981) came out and marked the end of the group's heyday.

Front cover of "Goodbye Luv'"

Back to fashion

Unlike the other ex-Luv' singers, Ria never pursued a singing career. Instead, she continued her modelling career until age 40.

In late 1990 and early 1991, Ria was in charge of Luv's styling. At the time, the trio's line-up consisted of Marga Scheide, Diana van Berlo and Carina Lemoine.

Ria and Luv' in Story - December 1990

Marga Scheide, Ria Thielsch, Diana van Berlo & Carina Lemoine

Meet-and-greets with Luv'

The fans never forgot Ria, who attended several meet-and-greets with Marga and José.

Ria and José at Luv's first fan club day in Breda in April 2003

René Moonen, José, Hans van Hemert & Ria at the release party of the "25 Jaar Na Waldolala" compilation in October 2003

Ria, Marga & José at a fan club day in Eindhoven in May 2013

Press launch and release party of "The Story of Luv" book in May 2015 at the Wisseloord Studios in Hilversum

In late 2015, speculations about an umpteenth comeback of Luv' (including Ria) appeared in the media.

On the second Christmas day of 2015, Ria and the ladies had dinner with friends, which caused a wave of positive reactions among fans.

Luv's comeback with Ria

Luv' in 2016 - Photo by Govert de Roos

On March 16th, 2016, Dutch newspaper "De Telegraaf" and its sister magazine "Privé" announced that Marga, José and Ria wanted to resurrect Holland's greatest girl group. It was a new chapter in their lives.

De Telegraaf - March 16th, 2016

Between June 2016 and December 2018, the Luv' singers successfully toured the nostalgia circuit in the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium).

Among their most notable performances:

EuroPride in Amsterdam - August 6th, 2016

Studio 54 @ Antwerps Sportpaleis, Belgium - October 1st, 2016

"Mega Piraten Festijn" at the GelreDome stadium in Arnhem, the Netherlands - December 10th, 2016

Yesterdayland at the Bobbejaanland theme park in Lichtaart, Belgium - August 27th, 2017

Goes Couture Night (in association with DC Models) at the Grote Kerk (Mary Magdalene church) in Goes, the Netherlands - September 22nd, 2017

Hollands Glorie at the Kursaal Oostende, Belgium - September 29th, 2017

Disco Fever at Lucky in Rijssen, the Netherlands - November 3rd, 2017

Saturday Night Fever XXL at the MartiniPlaza in Groningen, the Netherlands - November 25th, 2017

Nacht van de Schlagers at the Kortrijk Xpo in Belgium - December 8th, 2018

On July 9th, 2017, Luv' celebrated their 40th anniversary with fans and friends at Quatre Bras restaurant in Best, the Netherlands.

During this period, Luv' also attended several events:

Studio 54 press conference with Flemish dance singer Kate Ryan on May 24th, 2016, in Antwerp, Belgium

Release party of Stany Van Wijmeersch's book "We All Love ABBA" at the Harbour Club in Amsterdam - May 26th, 2016

Luv' backstage at "House of Horror" (Hans Klok's show at the Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam) on September 18th, 2016

Luv' and Ted Neeley (of the legendary musical "Jesus Christ Superstar") backstage at Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam on December 17th, 2016

Ger Valkenburg, José Hoebee, Ria Thielsch, Dyon Hagenaars and Marga Scheide at Goes Couture Night, in Goes, the Netherlands - September 22nd, 2017

Childright Nobel Gala at the Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus in Scheveningen, the Netherlands November 17th, 2018

Premiere of "Soof de Musical" at the Chassé Theater in Breda, the Netherlands - November 18th, 2018

Ria's artistic farewell

On January 4th, 2019, De Telegraaf reported a surprising line-up change: media personality Chimène van Oosterhout replaced Ria Thielsch. This unexpected news led to Ria's retirement from show business.

On March 13th, 2020, one month after Luv's definitive break-up, Ria gave an interview on Tempus, a radio show on Houten FM. The former Luv' singer discussed her years as a member of Holland's iconic girl group. It was very unusual to listen to the discreet lady on the radio.

Photo by Vincent Beenhakker

On June 20th, 2020, Marco Rens and Ralph Ruiz (in association with Ria) launched the "Ria Thielsch Fan Zone : Forever Yours" page on Facebook. This platform is a tribute to her prestigious modelling and Luv' years.

Ria is a happy woman, mother and grandmother who enjoys now life with her family and friends.

We Luv' Ria!!!

Source: Luv' weblog archives, Delpher Kranten Archief, Toen gisteren nog vandaag was, Ria Thielsch Fan Zone : Forever Yours (Facebook)

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