40 years of EBI and the party still goes on.......................!


by Martial F. Bekkers



Yes, everybody, this was the best Everly party ever. Without a doubt. And I have been to a few ! Organized more than 40.


In fact we started talks and meetings about the ideas for a very special party last year right after the 2005 edition. Fred and Geoffrey then talked to me afterwards and said they would have wanted that one to be their final appearance as Harmony Trail. They wanted to do another year as they could not step out completely unannounced.


Right there and then we started talking to some very dear and die-hard Everly fans who have contributed a lot to this fan club throughout the years. They are always at Everly concerts and often even trips abroad. We concluded that a farewell to Harmony Trail and our 40th Anniversary needed a special entourage, some spice, some class. A bigger venue, a real stage. With the help of sponsors it should be possible if we asked a little bit more for an entry ticket!?!?

So here we were at the empty Jacobi Theatre in the Spring of 2006. Fell in
love with the place.  


Don’t know how often we heard that this was not going to work. But it did! We had booked a very classy place, acoustically perfect for the intimate sort
of music we planned to present. We wanted to offer a high quality buffet, befitting this happening. It could all be arranged. We had to do it….but jeez, who’s going to pay 40 or 50 Euros for EBI’s Anniversary Party? Well you all did!

You started reserving seats straight after that inspiring and well-packed
invitation folder, that Dick Kooiman wrote, fell on your doormats.

Yvonne, John, Dick and I worked out a plan and a schedule. We found our
sponsors, to whom we are very grateful. And together we got to where we were on 14th October, 2006.

We wanted a night full of live music (especially Yvonne so she did not have
to do the annual bingo and lottery presentation, haha) and good food in a nice atmosphere. We wanted a good rock 'n' roll band. And there was Ruud Kuijpers, EBI member since many years, who wrote to me through our Yahoo! Group that he was in a band, and that they could do a special set for an Everly party at a friendly price for us….as well as many rock ‘n’ roll classics. Turned out to be The Explosion Rockets, a band that was way above our normal budget but within our reach for this occasion.


And that is how this plan got together, almost through sheer coincidence and luck, and the kind help of the best sponsors you could find.


So here we were on 14th October, 2006, in a special theatre with beautiful scenery, the right atmosphere and great acoustics.We were at the Jacobi Theatre in the heart of Utrecht , The Netherlands.  This was going to be a day and a party to go down into Everly history books.


We got there at 11:30 according to plan. The truck of the Explosion Rockets had already been parked in front of the

stage door. We had some unpacking to do ourselves and then lent the roadies and sound technician a hand with their flight cases and equipment. There was only just enough time to set it all up and check the sound. First The Explosion Rockets and then Harmony Trail tested the complete set up. It sounded nearly perfect to me.


We never had so many people in our audience, 246, a full house. From the reactions we got we can safely say most of them will be present again next year in October. Missed a few people (whom we hope will be back next time) and saw a lot of new faces. Doors opened at 2:30 and it did not take long before the whole place was packed and extra tables and chairs were needed while Harmony Trail were ending their sound check.


I officially opened the party almost exactly on time, asking for a moment of silence to remember the friends we lost along the way since 1966, often very active EBI members and die hard Everly fans whom I and many of you will fondly remember. The moment had a big impact on me. During the last two weeks before the actual opening we lost two….imagine! Like Henk, who did some superb lay out for our so well loved Kentucky magazine. He died only days before this event that he nor his wife could attend. They did attend in my heart.


The names of them and many other fans, still here and present or no longer with us, that I wanted to thank were printed in very big letters on long lists that we spread and hung up in all corners of the theatre.



There was a tight schedule; very good acts were ready to perform. Very little time to lose in between. And halfway through the party a big, wonderful buffet. No time for a long speech. The fans came to see this first act perform!


Straight into the first set of songs delivered by Harmony Trail. Painful to hear Fred remind us, their very last performance as Harmony Trail after 15 great years of EBI parties. Fred and his son Geoffrey delivered quality versions of songs like ‘When Will I Be Loved’, ‘Born To Lose’, and ‘That’s Old Fashioned’ getting lots of applause from a very appreciative audience.


Then came Mike Everly. Great renditions of rockers like ‘Three Steps To Heaven’, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, ‘Ain’t That A Shame’ and other fine classics. Imagine we put him on the stage right there and then. No rehearsals, nor sound checks. No hard feelings even!! Sorry for the mix up, Sue and Mike.  


Since we lost some time at the start the breaks between performances were short
as can be to meet with our time table.


Next up were The Explosion Rockets. Just before they started a guitar amplifier broke down. It did not shake the guys much but of course it took them a little time to switch some cords and plugs around before the band could really come alive. They started their first set of 45 minutes with the Shadows instrumental ‘ Wonderful Land ’. Very close to the original that took us straight back to the 60s.


Toon Tijs and Ruud Kuijpers then did a very enthusiastic Everly set of songs like ‘Bird Dog’, ‘Till I Kissed You’, ‘Bye Bye Love’, ‘Brown Eyes’ (very original version that got loads of applause), ‘On the Wings Of A Nightingale’ and ‘Let It Be Me’. Also one of the most upbeat Everly songs ‘Thinking About You’ with that nice skiffle feel, followed by ‘Devoted To You’, ‘Claudette’, and to close off this set with a bang: ‘Lucille’ !


The Everly set is not always on the Rockets repertoire but for special occasions like
these, Toon Tijs joins Ruud for real good Everly harmonies. Well, Ruud will explain that later. Very, very slowly it dawned on me why these guys had such familiar faces. It appeared they had been at several EBI Parties in Spakenburg and earlier even. Toon’s brother has been in EBI for at least 25 years.  


The spirit among the performers and the sound technicians and crew was very good during the whole happening. Thom, manager and guitar player of The Explosion Rockets, mentioned for instance the fact that Gerard, soundman and technician of Harmony Trail was able to inspect and repair the Rockets’ guitar amplifier during the break. Their own soundman Antoon wanted to thank the members of EBI’s organization who were of great help in the short time he had to set the equipment up and do the sound checks by getting all the flight cases down with the elevator, thus saving him valuable time.

Hindsight I must stress we were lucky and things could not have been done much better as far as the circumstances and atmosphere. Thanks also to the acoustic quality of the theatre, the sound they put down was just perfect! 

Harmony Trail started of their second set with ‘Pocket Full Of Heartaches’ that Fred wrote with our own Lee Towers (a very sympathetic singer, the best we have in The Netherlands….and one of the biggest Everly fans). Then ‘First In Line’. All artists formed a good combination and spread because they all fitted at this party but touched different grounds. Fred and Geoffrey got some great harmonies going and they have always done the lesser known Everly songs combined with some very good songs of their own that could have been Everly songs. They continued with ‘That’ll Be The Day’, and ‘Don’t Ask Me To Be Friends’. Those high notes that Geoffrey reaches sound like heaven to me. Next up ‘Rip It Up’. Where do you hear songs like these? What a contrast to ‘Down In The Willow Garden’! Soaring harmonies by Geoffrey again, just like on ‘Long Time Gone’. And then ending the set with Gene Vincent’s ‘Be Bop A Lula’.


Around 6 o’clock, three different types of buffets with the greatest food were displayed all over the width of the theatre. What a sight. Good quality food that was enjoyed by all. And we all took our time for it as there was food in abundance.




During the buffet video footage was shown on the very big flat screens hanging from the ceiling. We could enjoy some very good recordings that were shot during the Everly Brothers’ UK Tour of last year. I saw fans watch the recordings of Garrison Keilor’s ‘Prairie Home Companion’ from 1987 and 1988 in awe and with mouths open. Well, everybody, we got it all in our vaults for you.


Was still enjoying the delicious food so now I know why everybody was waiting in such a relaxed manner after the buffet. When I was done my good friend Dick Kooiman to my surprise took the stage. He took his papers out so then I could imagine what was coming…..a detailed, witty and funny speech about EBI and my role in it, the contents of which he must have gathered the last couple of months when he was so seriously taking me back to memory lane, talking for hours. He painted the audience a picture of what life as a leader of this type of organization was like, from the 60s till right this day and onwards. The work load, the fun, the very interesting moments, the criticism, sometimes positive and oh so true, but also often unfair, unjust, based upon lies or rumours that were not true at all. Notwithstanding that last bit (which I almost always ignore).


I have enjoyed it all and still do. Having to make personal decisions during 40 years you’re bound to make some enemies. I can count them on the fingers of one hand. But the nastier some destructive fans behaved, the bigger EBI grew. It’s a great pity but a fact that a very small minority prefers to put their energy into negative behaviour in a downward spiral, boycott even (I would laugh if it was not so sad), in stead of working alongside on the many projects we’re working on at EBI! 


Typing stories like these gets to be a heavy task as you all will have noticed. But meeting the Everly Brothers, their parents, their families, band and crew members, their many wonderful fans on many occasions, getting birthday and Christmas cards from Mrs Margaret and Mr Ike Everly, even cards to congratulate us on the birth of each of our sons. Of course our well-known Glossy Deluxe Kentucky magazines were mentioned. Very proud to have been able to produce them with Henk, Henk, Anne and Rick. We hope they will soon be shown in a booth at the Everly Brothers Museum in Central City, Kentucky . So proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and produce something that will be part of the history of the state that’s near to my heart.


Dick mentioned the extensive collection that turned my simple room into a small Everly museum. Thanks to Elly den Dekker many photos and documents were preserved in 48 scrapbooks and more boxes now to be scanned and shared with all Everly fans world wide.

Dick stressed that the fans clearly ‘wanted Martial’, that EBI has now over 4,000
members, that the fan organization is healthy and vibrant with Bas Siewertsen updating the www.everly.net website at least once a week (he has done so for
more than 10 years at a stretch now, imagine that devotion).



And then came a very big moment for me when Dick had a big box brought on stage and his sweet wife Jannie pulled out a big cup. I slowly read the inscription on it and it was not my only silent, emotional moment of the night :


'To Martial Bekkers
From all your EBI-fans
Thank you Mr. President

for 40 beautiful years.'


So grateful to all who made this party possible, to all that contributed to that mega cup that is now on my mantle piece!
The applause from all warmed me.


Back to Utrecht reality:

What Yvonne and John did not know was that I had asked Dick to do something as a thank you to them. Funny of course to realize he had the request from them to think of something to thank me not much earlier!?!?! The result was that Dick invited them on stage and gave them both a cup as a memory and token of gratitude as well, little smaller than mine but they surely cherished the idea. They got well-deserved praise from Dick and me for their very important part in organizing most of the ‘post-split’ EBI Parties.




Of course we all agreed we had to send Fred and Geoffrey off with a nice piece to remind them of these days with EBI and the fans. On behalf of us all Dick thanked them for 15 years of songs that drew people to our parties. They were indeed keeping EBI’s parties alive and drew the crowd.

Under thunderous applause father and son were presented with a replica of a golden
microphone for all services rendered and for the way they entertained and amused us. I am sure the golden mikes will get a nice place in their houses.


For the occasion Fred’s son Sylvester joined Harmony Trail for their 3rd set of songs. The trio sang ‘Walk Right Back’ and then Sylvester took care of percussion on ‘Not Fade Away’. Fred reminded us that we’re all at least 30 years old after he had announced this song as a Buddy Holly oldie. Geoffrey of course told us that all these songs were oldies and

…..we in the audience were all oldies too!! Haha. Truth hurts, for most.


Then Geoff’s brother Sylvester joined in again for ‘Back To You Again’ (one more written by Fred and taken from their gorgeous CD ‘Loving You’, which you should have bought instantly…..let me know if you’re interested because these compositions could all have been Everly songs!!). They got the whole audience clapping and singing to the blues song ‘Blues Stay Away From Me’. It was time for Fred’s version of  ‘Words’, which everybody knows by the Bee Gees

of course. He did the guitar work himself and got the crowd to sing with him as always rounding off another nice set of songs.

There was real good camaraderie between sound technicians Antoon and Gerard. It
pleases me deeply to see all that happen so automatically. This is the chemistry I often rely on and somehow we’re blessed with it every time.


After a short break I announced Anthony Lauren doing a tribute to the late great Roy Orbison. Shall we give the secret away? Yeah it is the same guy we saw some hours earlier…… and I know he fooled quite a few of you under that Roy Orbison wig, wearing the original dark glasses. Always am afraid he will trip over something and fall, haha. It’s the same Mike Brambles, alias Mike Everly! He does a very classy job on songs like ‘Only The Lonely’, ‘Dream Baby’, ‘Blue Bayou’, ‘Candy Man’, ‘So Beautiful’, ‘You Got It’, ‘Claudette’, ‘I Got A Woman’ and ‘Pretty Woman’ and other well-known songs of Roy.


Lots of applause for this guy. And well deserved. Sue and Mike have become good
friends of ours. No wonder.

Great bumping into you tourists the next night in Gouda , Guys! Unforgettable trip to Gent too.


Hanne Gers, elegant Flemish lady (Dutch Belgian) of Pilot Productions came to join the party with Peter Thyssen and Erik Goossens to promote Martin King’s play ‘Brothers’ that we reported about earlier. Peter and Erik made us familiar with some of the dialogue and dealings between the brothers that we can expect at the show. There will be lots of music in it too like the nice and witty version of ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ that the guys did, including a very funny introduction.


They also delivered a very good rendition of ‘Be Bop A Lula’. There will be a few test showings in Antwerp in November and Brussels in December
and the play is scheduled to tour Belgium up from next Spring. There will be a report/review about this very good piece soon. As far as I am concerned EBI will keep on assisting with advice and info to see ‘Brothers’ tour the world!! Honestly mean that.


After this very original, appetizing break it was time for Harmony Trail’s 4th and final set of songs, the red thread through the whole event, especially loved by all for their choice of Everly repertoire. Most of them not really the songs you will hear during an Everly Concert. Geoff and Fred did their superb version of ‘The Doll House Is Empty’. Here’s a song you really never hear in a live show, right Colin? So how come these guys make something so special out of it that it’s now among the favourites of those attending our parties? On with ‘Less Of Me’ and ‘Story Of Me’. Then Geoffrey’s spot to sing the lead, a self-penned song called ‘Waiting For Dawn’. On with Mark Knopfler’s ‘Why Worry’, ‘Sing Me Back Home’, ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’, ‘Let It Be Me’ and Rod Stewart’s sing-a-long giant ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’ to close this set with, sung by Fred.




The Explosion Rockets started off their second set of 45 minutes of pure rock 'n' roll around half past 9, all according to plan. We have seldom been this disciplined before. Classics by Elvis, Cliff Richard, Shakin’ Stevens, so many greats, introduced by Ruud, firing up the audience, even got lots of them dancing. Songs like ‘Move It’, ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, ‘Julie’ and Ruud even doing al the classic moves there. Must have been murder in that smart blazer. Also on the menu ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’, ‘That’s All Right Mama’, ‘Pretend’, ‘Do You Wanna Dance’, ‘One Night’, ‘Stuck On You’ and ‘Shake Rattle & Roll’  


Then Thom stopped the show for a few minutes and asked our attention for two people who made this their birthday party: Jim and my girlfriend Sylva from Virginia , USA . A ‘Lang zalle ze leve’ (long may they live) and ‘Zij leve hoog’ (high may they live) were belted across the room for these two. I know Colin Braithwaite got his best 60th birthday present he could wish for on his trip to Holland so I would like to include him and his wife Lyn in this celebration as well. Good to see you all the way from England , guys. Glad I persuaded you. And that goes for Wendy Cotton too.


On with the show nearing its climax with ‘Marie, Marie’, ‘Bossa Nova Baby’, ‘It’s Raining’, ‘It’s Now Or Never’, ‘Please Don’t Tease’ and ‘Honey Don’t’. The Explosion Rockets had prepared a surprise. To our great joy as a very nice gesture to Harmony Trail they invited them on stage to sing with the band for an emotional finally and some of the Everly Brothers most well-known hits: ‘Cathy’s Clown’, ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ and ‘Lucille’.



Nothing better than their own guitars or a live band to accompany them, right? Then the band stepped aside to make room for the duo that has made us all enjoy these last 15 EBI Parties like The Problems, The Askay Brothers and

The EBI Band had done way before them in much older editions of the EBI Parties.


Their music had the last word. Geoffrey playing guitar and their voices, blending well for ‘ Kentucky ’ that got a standing ovation and shouts for more.  They’ve come full circle indeed. The first shows Geoffrey was standing there with his hands in his pockets not knowing how to play guitar. This last show it was Fred standing there with his hands in his pockets.


One final encore ‘Don't Blame Me’.


A word of thanks from Fred and Geoffrey and it was all over. Flowers from Yvonne to all performers.

And then time to say goodbye.


Yes, everybody gathered in that theatre had enjoyed themselves for 7 hours plus.... and they all thought it was too short. What more can you want? Need more proof of the fact that this has been a memorable event?



We had people there from many different nationalities, the UK, Australia, Guiana, USA, Germany, Belgium……our Australian National Coordinator Anneke Drese all the way from down under, Bob Naylor for years and years our National Coordinator in the North of England, also well-known for his articles in the UK rock ‘n’ roll magazine ‘Now Dig This’.


We would like to thank Ineke and Ben and the personnel of the Jacobi Theatre for their hard work and great service, the wonderful buffet that was served, the equipment that was offered to us, which was of great use.


Thank you Chris for helping us out behind the Kentucky Shop counter and showing your wide knowledge of rock ‘n’ roll music and the Everly Brothers in particular. There’s always Bas who welcomed all the people at the door, guarded the entrance. Thank you, Bas and my apologies for not showing your special Power Point presentation on 40 years of EBI history. We completely forgot to include it and I think we should highlight it on EBI WebSite.


Thank you Rob for bringing my birthday girl and me to the spot safely and exactly on time as per usual…… and for always smiling, doing a lot of hard work and enjoying yourself as much as we do.


A special thanks to Yvonne, John and Lydia and Dick Kooiman.


Every year I see so many fans at the parties that I’d like to talk to. This year more than ever. I regret I was not able to talk to all the people I wanted to talk to or who wanted to talk to me.


Thank you so very much Fred and Geoffrey!! Hats off.


Thank you all for being there.


And finally a special word of thanks to our sponsors who made Harmony

Trail’s  farewell and our 40th Anniversary a fitting and classy one :


Ida and Rik Muller

Gerrit Vermeulen

Peter Profittlich

Mia and Jan Garretsen

John van der Holst and his wife
Frits Sontrop


Credits photos and videos:
Sue and Mike Brambles
, Robert Phillipson, Martin Alberts, Sylva Webb, Ida/Rik Muller, Tonny Arkenbout and Arie Brinkman




by Ruud Kuijpers


Here are a few words from The Explosion Rockets about the latest Everly Brothers meeting in Utrecht .


First of all (as I may speak for myself) I´ve been a Everly fan since I was a kid. My dad was a truck driver and he had only 1 cassette tape in his truck. You´re right, it was an Everly Greatest Hits cassette. He played it over and over again, and I can still dream every word of every song. Later on, I became a huge Elvis fan, but the Brothers were always part of my musical life.


When I became a member of The Explosion Rockets (now some 12 years ago) the first thing I wanted to do was an Everly Tribute set. Before I joined The Rockets I sang the Everly songs with a friend of mine, Toon Tijs. We used only one guitar and I played drums on a cardboard box, but it sounded great! Anyway, now with the Rockets as our backing group, Toon and I could play those Everly songs, we never did before. We did those tributes every once in a while, and always with great success. There are not a lot of bands in the Netherlands who play (and sing harmony!!) Everly songs (in fact I cannot come up with any names...).


When I heard about the main Everly event in Utrecht , I contacted Martial. At first, I contacted him to ask about some Everly video footage, but later on, I talked about my rock and roll band and our Everly tribute. From the very first moment, Martial was very excited about the idea to perform in Utrecht . And so was I. And so was the whole band!! I was a little worried, to perform in front of real Everly fans. They know every word, every song from the Brothers, and I did not want to disappoint them.


Another fact was, they had Harmony Trail! Who can sing Everly songs better than they do?? (except of course the Evs themselves). But it all went very well! Of course, Harmony Trail played the, not so familiar album tracks, and we did the hits. What a party!! Everyone in Utrecht was so very kind, and Harmony Trail, Mike Everly, the Belgian brothers (great guys!!! thanks for the beer!!) were the best artists to work with. I really enjoyed this day (as we all did from the Explosion Rockets), the food was fantastic, all the fans were very kind (thanks for all the compliments!!!)...... it was, in one word, amazing!


Kentucky Colonel, you did it again!!! I really hope we can do it again, of course not as big an event as in Utrecht , but a bit smaller would be just as great. If that’s the main thing to keep the Everly musical legacy alive, it will be my, and the Explosion Rockets´ pleasure!!




( lead singer E/R )


Visit the Explosion Rockets WEBSITE