(This blog was previously published as a column in the magazine iO Pages)
He has not been among us for about eighteen years now, but I still think about him regularly: manager Frits Hirschland. Unfortunately, not only positive thoughts come to mind. The adage 'about the dead nothing but good' is in fact somewhat difficult for him if one does not want to do too much violence to reality. But I still want to give it a try. In his case, "nothing but remarkable about the dead" may be more manageable.
Hirschland was certainly remarkable. There are many anecdotes about him in circulation, and I can report from my own experience that only a few are exaggerated. He was not about money, but about attention, attention, and more attention. And if he didn't get it right, then he got it badly. For example, around 1977 he was of the opinion that record company Phonogram did not promote us enough (ie Kayak). Another would pick up the phone and make a regular appointment with the promotion department on duty to report his or her displeasure, if not Frits. He thought he had nagged enough now, and thought the time was ripe for more drastic measures. To the dismay of the entire Phonogram and studio staff, he reported one day at the entrance of Studio Wisseloord, sitting on a real horse. He managed to get in with the animal, and then drove to the A&R manager's room with great interest. The horse was not unrepentant and deposited a considerable amount of feces in the hallway. I don't know if it helped our promotion, but he did get the attention.
A few years later, in the same Wisseloord, he once had an appointment that did not go entirely according to plan. Frits went to the toilet, and came back to the meeting a little later, like a Michelin man completely wrapped in toilet paper. "I'm sorry about everything," he explained his striking outfit. Again, it is not clear whether the action was successful, but again he had drawn attention to himself.
A few years earlier, we were still with EMI with Kayak, who he also regularly treated to memorable moments. For example, one day he had three different appointments. In the morning, dressed as a gypsy / hippie with a hair band, floral shirt, big hat, flip flops, and amply papered with beads and streamers, he arrived at the headquarters in Haarlem. A bit strange, but not very special in itself. Just after lunch he returned for appointment number two, this time impeccably dressed as an English gentleman: neatly cut short hair, black suit, shiny shoes, a walking stick, not to mention the bowler hat. Amazement and hilariousness everywhere. After this he disappeared again, to appear for his third appointment at the end of the afternoon as the punk from the series The Young Ones: orange spiky hair with a shaved red, white and blue painted flag on the back of his head, and had his English suit made way for ripped jeans and old leather jacket.
In the 1970s Hirschland regularly tried to get Kayak at Pinkpop. It never worked. I don't know why, I think we weren't hip enough or outside the organizers' taste, anyway: Frits couldn't get it done. In the end, he was left with nothing more than renting a plane with a drag text behind it, which continued to fly in circles above the festival site: 'greetings from Kayak, the new album: The Last Encore' was read there. Nevertheless, it became the least sold album.
In the end it didn't go so well with our Frits, who saw his career just about ending in the Surinamese jungle as spokesman for rebel Ronnie Brunswijck, then came back as manager of Vanessa and some boy band, but as far as I know little dents in packs of butter. But maybe I missed something: after 1981 the contact was broken and I only heard through what he did.
As brilliant as his deals for the band were at times: a greater administrative chaos than he has yet to be invented. I can still see the receipts flying over the highway, when he opened the trunk of his Mercedes during a stop along the emergency lane near Apeldoorn. When Kayak quit in 1981, all efforts had to be made to avoid financial capsizing. His death in the late 1990s eventually paved the way for a reboot under this name: Pim and I, knowing what madness he was capable of, would not be confronted with him again. Because despite the fact that he had absolutely no right to the name Kayak-Kayak without him, he probably would never have pecked.
It is only a small selection from Frits' oeuvre. There is a Kayak song dedicated to him, 'You're so Bizarre' from 1975. That title pretty much covered the load.
ps Attached photos: Frits and I in Blankenham in the kitchen (where he lived and Kayak rehearsed), and Frits and producer Gerrit Jan Leenders as the guard of Sinterklaas at his entrance in Amsterdam in 1975. The Amsterdam saintly man was the father of our sound engineer Rijn Peter de Klerk. This gave Hirschland a bright idea, to let Kayak walk along as the Spanish guard of the Saint during his journey through the city. The undersigned damn it to do that, this went a little too far for me. The rest of the band did it but it turned out to be unrecognizable and it was a real joker. Unfortunately no photos.