March 13, 2014 – Reggie Tielman (Tielman Brothers) was born on May 20, 1933. Tielman was born in Makassar, Celebes, Dutch East Indies. Both his father, a KNIL captain named Herman Tielman, and his mother, Flora Laurentine Hess, were Indo-European. Aside from Reggie, the couple had 5 children: Reggie, Phonton, Loulou (Lawrence), and Jane (Janette Loraine). When the Japanese invaded the Indonesian Islands, the elder Tielman was imprisoned; Reggie and his siblings were taken care of by his mother. Together with his siblings Ponthon (4 August 1934 – 29 April 2000), Andy (30 May 1936 – 10 November 2011), Loulou (30 october 1938 – 4 August 1994)
Jane Tielman (17 August 1940 – 25 juni 1993) they formed the Tielman brothers in 1945 in Surabaya, Indonesia.
After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, the family was reunited. A few years later, Reggie and his siblings were performing jazz standards at private functions using the musical training their father had given them. They were performing throughout nascent Indonesia, which had proclaimed its independence from the Netherlands after the Japanese surrender. The siblings’ repertoire included both American and traditional Indonesian music.
By the time the Netherlands formally recognised Indonesia’s independence in 1949, the Tielman siblings had become a household name there. Still in their early teens, they even performed for first President Sukarno at his palace in Jakarta. In 1951 they were introduced to the song “Guitar Boogie” by Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith. In an interview Tielman recalled: “This was the first song which my brothers and I converted into rock ‘n roll by adding drums to it.” The band began playing rock and roll music by Les Paul, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Bill Haley, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent. Aside from the family band, Andy also played with Dolf de Vries’ band The Starlights in Jakarta, as well as Freddy Wehner’s Hawaiian band in Sumatra.
In the mid 1950s anti-Dutch sentiments increased, leading up to an escalation of the Dutch New Guinea conflict; it was feared that the Bersiap violence would be repeated. Dutch businesses and other properties were seized, Dutch social services were stopped, Dutch schools were banned and the last Dutch nationals were expelled. Anti-Dutch sentiments also affected Indo celebrities, including the Tielman siblings, and when they were pressured to give up their Dutch nationality, the family repatriated to the Netherlands.
In late 1957 the family moved to Breda in the Netherlands and soon became one of the pioneers of rock and roll in The Netherlands; later becoming famous in Europe for playing a kind of rock and roll later called Indorock, a fusion of Indonesian and Western music with roots in Kroncong. They charted hits in the 50s and 60s with songs like Ramona, Rock Little Baby Of Mine and Little Bird. During their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, the Tielman Brothers were hailed as the best live act in Europe and received the highest fees.
Their initial years in the Netherlands were difficult. Tielman later recalled that their first boarding house was “really sad” and said that music was the only thing that kept them going. The siblings, who required new instruments, went into a music shop to replace Andy’s broken guitar. The owner forbid him to touch anything, until the siblings played some Elvis tunes for the owner and his family. Afterwards, Tielman received a guitar at a discount and with only a small down payment.
The brothers began playing at a hotel for only 2,50 guilders a week. They were able to slowly acquire a fan base among rebellious youth and fellow musicians; however, just like with the advance of rock and roll in the rest of the world, they were not appreciated by the Dutch establishment or mainstream press. On national radio and television influential opinion makers such as ultra conservative Mies Bouwman and womanizernWillem Duys criticized and dismissed the brothers’ music.
After a successful show at the World Exhibition in Brussels, Belgium, in 1958, the Tielman Brothers however were signed by a Belgian company to record the first Dutch rock ‘n’ roll single, “Rock Little Baby Of Mine”.
The band’s flamboyant showmanship, acrobatic stage antics and rowdy sound were unheard of in the Netherlands. The band soon began performing internationally. Tielman later recalled that though they were referred to as “music rapists”, the Dutch kids knew exactly what was going on. The Tielman brothers were also the first to play Gibson Les Paul guitars in Europe.
In Germany the band found popularity and recorded some German-language songs. They played many live venues in the Reeperbahn area of Hamburg, a city with many American GIs and a lively music scene. The Tielman’s made an impression on both the German and British musicians playing there. The band enjoyed a successful musical career throughout Europe until the emergence of British beat music headed by The Beatles.
In several configurations of the Tielman Brother they kept performing on the oldies circuits until brother Andy passed away from stomach cancer in 2011.
Reggie Tielman died at the age of 80 on March 13, 2014.