dimanche 11 juin 2017

My Man: 40th anniversary of Luv's debut single

The release of a debut record is a milestone in the career of any pop singer or band. 40 years ago exactly, on June 11th, 1977, "My Man" by legendary girl group Luv' entered the Dutch single charts. The female triumvirate became a pop sensation the following year, not only in the Netherlands but also abroad. Here's the story of Luv's first single....


In 1976, well established Dutch record producer and songwriter Hans van Hermert (who scored numerous hits with pop acts like 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? (see article posted on May 29th, 2017). 

The formation of a manufactured pop band (twenty years before the Spice Girls phenomenon) was new in Holland at the time.

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 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, NL. The successful producer and she 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. 

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 Hofwas found as well as a blonde girl, Willemijn Damave. But Willewijn was too tall and she wasn't selected at the end.

Piet Souer asked José van de Wijdeven (born on March 29th, 1954 in Best, NL) to be a member of Luv'. She started her career in the early 1970s as a member of a folk & country band, Young Tradition, with her two sisters (Marijke and Yvonne) and a friend (Ad). This formation took part in talent shows. In 1976, the Van de Wijdeven siblings recorded a single (Elongi) produced by Souer (see article posted on August 20th, 2016). 

Yvonne, José, Marijke & Ad as Young Tradition

Yvonne, José & Marijke as "Elongi"

Front cover of Elongi's single (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'

A blonde singer had to be chosen. That's how Marga Scheide was cast. She was a model and was previously involved in many beauty pageants (including Miss Holland 1972, 1973 and 1977, Miss Young International 1972 and Miss Europe 1975). She graced the covers of various artist hit compilations and participated in several advertising campaigns (including lemonade SiSi, "bintje" (a potato variety), Quick Tanning, Yamaha motorcycles...). 

Marga (second from the left) at the Miss Holland 1972 contest

Unofficial Miss Europe 1975 contest (featuring Marga Scheide as candidate #4)

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 she was interviewed by American author James Arena 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 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 JoséThe 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 that 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 are going to wear for performances," Patty told Panorama.

Patty Brard in Panorama

In May 1977, Phonogram/Philips Records released "My Man" as a single. The lyrics of this ABBA-esque track (which dealt with a railroad man who was shot and died) shocked the Netherlands because around the time of its release, a hostage-taking occurred in a train in De Punt, NL. Despite this controversy and a radio boycott, the record entered the Dutch and Flemish charts. 

Penney de Jager did the choreography for the song. On May 20th, 1977 Luv' appeared for the first time on television. They sang "My Man" on the TROS show "Disco Circus" (produced by John de Mol). 

They later performed on AVRO's TopPop

Avro's TopPop (Broadcast date: June 14th, 1977)  

The Dutch and Flemish youth press (Popshop, Hitkrant, Joepie...) started to write articles about the newly created girl group.

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 they sang their single and "Don't Let Me Down" (B-side of "My Man") on the East German TV show "Rund". 

Rund on East German TV (Broadcast date: June 13th, 1977)

Here's what Marga said about this special moment in GDR when she was interviewed by Peter Boonstra 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 to 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. 

On August 13th, 1977 Luv' sang "My Man" on the popular West German TV show "Musikladen". Amanda Lear, Baccara, Bonnie Tyler, Laurent Voulzy and Veronica Unlimited (a Van Hemert's production) were the other guests on the same program.

Musikladen (Radio Bremen, Germany, August 13th 1977)

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 in the opening credits of 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 look 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 breakthough the next year. But that's another story....

Chart performance

"My Manpeaked at #12 on the Nationale Hitparade and the Dutch Top 40 and #10 on the Flemish BRT Top 30 in 1977. 

Tracklisting & release

My Man
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
Original Dutch cover

Cover of the German 7" vinyl pressing

Press clippings

* Bibliography: 
  • Top 40 Hitdossier 1956-2005 (9e editie) by Johan van Slooten, publisher: Gottmer Bech 
  • Stars of 80s Dance Pop, The European Edition by James Arena, publisher: AuthorHouse 
  • The Story of Luv' by Peter Boonstra

Source: Wikipedia, YouTube, Luv' blog archives, Krant van Toen, Delpher.nl...

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