I was born in November 1950 in the foothills of the Dutch Province of Limburg, a stone’s throw away from the German and Belgian borders.
Music caught me early on and I don’t know particularly why, because neither my parents nor close relatives were much into it and even the region had little to offer beyond brass bands and majorettes.
On school outings I became the go-to kid to sing through the bus’s PA system. I actually built some reputation at parties with songs like Hello Mary Lou, Banjo Boy and Diana.
When the early 60s came around and the Beatles and Rolling Stones made their entrance, I spent every dime I made from my paper route on vinyl single 45s. Saturday afternoons were a ‘religious’ experience after collecting my weekly route pay. I had two favorite record stores and that’s where I could be found. Went home with at least 4 or 5 new ones every week. A bit later I learned to play guitar on the Animal’s House of the Rising Sun. Still suggest every aspiring kid to start with that song; when you’re done, you know the basics of using two hands rhythmically through the melody consisting of 6 chords including major, minor and barre chords.
Then one Saturday in 1965, the newly formed German rock band “The Scorpions” showed up at the record store in leather jeans and jackets to promote their new single “Hello Josephine”. Made a huge impact and soon my first band was formed. Music had me in its grip and has never left. Hundreds of concerts and festivals, tens of thousands of LP’s, EP’s, Singles, Tapes, CD’s, and 5 decades later, I find myself fascinated by an era of music that was unique from the moment it was born in the late 1940s and 1950s by crossovers between black music of the streets and cotton fields and white music from the beaches, mountains and countrysides.
The era brought forward musicians of incredible virtuosity and creativity and songwriters of deep poetry of love and compassion and haunting clarity of the human spirit.
Even though superstars like the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Paul McCartney and many more are still touring and performing, we’re all sadly aware that they are passing their 70th and 80th birthdays and “the early era of rock&roll” is inevitably coming to an end.
I’m incredibly grateful to have lived in that era and growing up with the legends who have already moved on to that great gig in the sky, and every time another one moves on, I use my musician’s insight and imagination to form the line up of the band that will play on the stage of Rock and Roll Paradise that night with their new ‘acquisition’ in the spotlight. I’m also endlessly grateful to have seen so many of them on live stages and sometimes even shared those stages with them.
This is the place where legends live on. At my current age of 70 I consider this my legacy website for as long as I will be able to. Buy an occasional T-shirt or two and I will be able to afford costs and effort to continue this work of love.
Johan ‘macamba’ Ramakers
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