14 June 2012


Dutch singer and actor Hein Simons (1955) was a famous child star in the 1960’s under the name Heintje. He sang in Dutch, English, German, Japanese and Afrikaans, and sold more than 40 million records worldwide. His greatest hit was Mama. Between 1968 and 1971 he also starred in six German light entertainment films. One became surprisingly popular in Red China.

German promotion card by Ariola, no. Ar 108. Photo: Norbert Unfried.

Dutch postcard by N.V. Platenmaatschappij CNR, Leiden. Promotion card for the LP Ich sing ein Lied für dich.

Gold and Platinum
Hendrik (Hein) Nicolaas Theodoor Simons was born in Kerkrade-Bleijerheide, in the south of the Netherlands, in 1955. Heintje was discovered after a talent contest in the Dutch town of Schaesberg by Addy Kleijngeld, a producer of the CNR record company. Kleijngeld went on to compose and record all his hit songs - mostly together with the German producer Wolfgang Roloff. Heintje’s first hit was Mama (1967), a Dutch version of the evergreen sung in the 1940’s by opera tenor Beniamino Gigli. It became a success in the Netherlands and a German version was produced for the German countries. In 1968 Mama reached the #2 position in the German hitparade. Heintje’s next German record, Du sollst nicht weinen (You should not cry) (1968), even became #1. Other huge hits soon followed as the # 1 hit in Germany ánd the Netherlands Ich bau' dir ein Schloss (I’ll build you a castle) (1968), Heidschi bumbeidschi (1968) – another # 1 in both Germany and the Netherlands, Ich sing ein Lied für dich (I sing you a song) (1969) – another # 1 in Germany, the Dutch song Ik hou van Holland (I love Holland) (1970), the English song I'm your little boy (1970) and another Dutch song Jij bent de allerbeste (You are the best) (1971). In 1971, Heintje started a USA tour with 10 shows. He received 45 Golden records all over the world (at the time the award for 250,000 sold records in Europe and for 1 million records in Great-Britain) and a dozen Platinum records. Worldwide he sold more than 40 million records.

German postcard by Rüdel-Verlag, Hamburg, no. 5093. Photo: Constantin. Publicity still for Hurra, die Schule brennt/Hurrah, the School Is Burning (1969, Werner Jacobs).

German postcard by Modern Times. Photo: Interfoto. Caption: Alles schlampen, ausser mama (All bitches, except mama).

Big in Communist China
Between 1968 and 1971, Heintje appeared in six German films. His first film was Zum Teufel mit der Penne/To Hell with School (1968, Werner Jacobs) with Peter Alexander and Theo Lingen. This comedy was the second of the Lümmel film series (6 in total), stuffy but harmless farces in which young students and other youths dissociate themselves from the older generation. Heintje played a supporting role and sang his hit Mama. In the following years he starred in three sentimental Heintje-films opposite Heinz Reincke and Ralf Wolter: Heintje – ein Herz geht auf Reisen/Heintje: A Heart Goes on a Journey (1969, Werner Jacobs), Heintje – einmal wird die Sonne wieder scheinen/Heintje: Once the Sun Will Be Shining Again (1970, Hans Heinrich) with Paul Dahlke, and Heintje – mein bester Freund/Heintje: My Best Friend (1970, Werner Jacobs) with Corny Collins. Heintje – ein Herz geht auf Reisen was awarded a Golden Screen in Germany for more than 3,000,000 attendances within 12 months. With subtitles the Heintje films were shown all over the world. Surprisingly, the film became also popular in communist China in the early 1980’s. On IMDb, Zhengyu Sun comments: “In the West, this film may be easily neglected as time goes by. But amazingly, Heintje would definitely be crowned as one of the memorable western films on Chinese screen even from today's perspective. Although filmed in 1960's, the film wasn't available in Red China until earlier 1980's. When the film was introduced, it was given a Chinese title, Handsome Boy. Actually, Heintje conforms with Chinese traditional values to great extend, such as parental and grandparental love, the theme of the harmonious family, the main character's righteous and courageous virtue. All of which seem pretty familiar and quite acceptable to the Chinese point of view. What's more, the songs performed by little Heintje Simons also contributed a lot to the popularity of the film in China. Without any exaggerating, the film is a household name among those middle-aged and well-educated.” Heintje also appeared - now in starring roles –in two more Lümmel farces, Hurra, die Schule brennt/Hurrah, the School is Burning (1969, Werner Jacobs) and Morgen fällt die Schule aus/No School Tomorrow (1971, Werner Jacobs), his final film.

German promotion card by Ariola, no. Ar 108. Photo: Norbert Unfried.

German promotion card by Jupiter Records. Photo: Manfred Esser.

A Broken Voice
When Heintje was 16, the inevitable happened: his voice changed. His last hit in the Netherlands was Meine Liebe für dich (My love for you) (1972). He continued to be quite popular in Germany, but couldn’t lay off his image as a former child star. In 1975, he made two LP’s with songs in Afrikaans, which were quite successful in South-Africa. His performances in the state of apartheid lead to some criticism in his home country though. As a young adult, he tried to make a come-back in the Netherlands with the song Und das alles nur weil wir uns lieben (And that's just because we love each other) (1978), but it only became a modest success. He also tried several come-backs in the German speaking regions, and in 1995 he even recorded a techno version of his first hit Mama. Nowadays Hein Simons resides with his family on a horse ranch in Neu-Moresnet, a part of the city of Kelmis in the east of Belgium. In 1981, he married Doris Uhl, and they have three children, Pascal (1982), Gina (1989) and Hendrik (1992). Hein Simons still performs and records regularly.

Heintje sings the Dutch version of Mama in Zum Teufel mit der Penne/To Hell with School (1968) with Peter Alexander. Source: 88Kaetzchen88 (YouTube).

Clip of the song Ich bau dir ein Schloss (1970). Source: Utuberias (YouTube).

Heintje sings Heidschi bumbeidschi in Heintje - Ein Herz geht auf Reisen (1969). Source: 88Kaetzchen88 (YouTube).

Hein Simons sings Heidschi bumbeidschi again in 2007. Source: Fritz5109 (YouTube).

Sources: International Hein Simons Website, Zhengyu Sun (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

1 comment:

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