Saturday 9 May 1998


The following article is an overview  an overview of the career of Dutch composer, arranger, and conductor Dick Bakker. The main source of information is an interview with Mr Bakker, conducted by Bas Tukker in Blaricum, December 2008. Meanwhile, working with Mr Bakker, Bas Tukker published a book about Mr Bakker's life in music, "Dick Bakker. Componist - arrangeur - dirigent. Achter de schermen van de muziek" (ed. Metropole Orkest: Hilversum, 2017), which contains many more details about Bakker's career. The article below is subdivided into two main parts; a general career overview (part 3) and a part dedicated to Mr Bakker's Eurovision involvement (part 4).

All material below: © Bas Tukker / 2008, 2013 & 2017

  1. Passport
  2. Short Eurovision record
  3. Biography
  4. Eurovision Song Contest
  5. Other artists about Dick Bakker
  6. Eurovision involvement year by year
  7. Sources & links

Born: May 23rd, 1947, Blaricum (Netherlands)
Nationality: Dutch


Dick Bakker, musical director of the Metropole Orchestra between 1991 and 2005, was the conductor of the Netherlands’ Eurovision entries ‘De eerste keer’ (1996), ‘Niemand heeft nog tijd’ (1997), and ‘Hemel en aarde’ (1998). Long before that, in 1975, Bakker wrote festival history by composing Dutch Eurovision winner ‘Ding-a-dong’ for Teach-In; as a songwriter, he also represented his country in the 1982 contest with ‘Jij en ik’. Moreover, he penned the orchestrations to three other Eurovision participations from the Netherlands and one from Luxembourg, while he was involved as a composer and arranger in his country’s festival pre-selection on countless occasions.


Dick Bakker was the son of the managing director of a margarine and soap factory. “My father was passionate about classical music,” Bakker comments. “He was quite a good amateur pianist and, as a matter of course, sent me to a piano teacher when I was six years of age. Though different elements of classical music interested me, it is true to say that, right from the beginning, I was fascinated by different genres. As a boy, I liked listening to Radio Luxembourg. It was not until my secondary school days, however, that I became really immersed in music. With a couple of friends, I founded a cabaret group called ‘Wij, Athenozems’. The school’s vice-principal wrote all lyrics for us, whilst I composed the music and played the piano. Our stage shows became so popular, that we were asked by other schools in the vicinity of Hilversum to play for their students as well. We even recorded an album disc and were invited to perform on nationwide television.”

“By then, I was fully aware that I wanted to make a living out of music. From my twelfth year onwards, I was taught the piano privately by a teacher of Hilversum’s conservatoire. Whilst still in high school, I had already started following theory classes there as well. In 1963, I joined a band called Fancy Five, in which I took care of the Neon Vox organ. I was one of the first in Holland to play this instrument. We played instrumentals in the style of the Tornados and recorded a single, ‘Timbuktu’, with producer Ted Powder on the Phonogram label. In 1964, I toured West Germany with some other bands and was asked to play the organ in Don Mercedes’ accompanying group. We were one of the support acts when the Beatles gave their only-ever performance in Holland, in Blokker.”

Between 1963 and 1967, Dick Bakker studied composition and arranging at the Hilversum Conservatoire. “I had no ambition of becoming a concert pianist or something the like,” Bakker explains his choice. “What was more, I was not really interested in being a pianist in bands either. Even at that young age, the production process behind the scenes was what fascinated me. I have always had a penchant for recording technique. When I was eight years old, I had been given a film projector, with which I learnt myself making films with dubbed sound. At the conservatoire, I was looking for the theoretical background to be able to write and arrange music properly. To be honest, studying never was my first priority. First, there were the bands I was performing with. Then, from 1965 onwards, I worked as a studio engineer. It was all extremely hectic with different activities going on at the same time. Much to my parents’ chagrin, I never took the time to graduate.”

Playing the organ in Fancy Five, using the pseudonym ‘Duke Baker’ (c1965)

In 1965, Bakker was hired as a sound engineer at the Soundpush Recording Studio, based in Dick’s hometown of Blaricum. “At Soundpush, the music to successful Dutch TV programmes such as Hadimassa and the Rudi Carrell Show as well as many pop productions were recorded. When I landed the job at Soundpush, initially on a freelance basis, I was just eighteen years of age. Under my belt, I had lots of ambition and no knowledge of the available techniques at all. Admittedly, in those years, the sound technique used was quite rudimentary. The recordings were made on one or two tracks only, of course with monaural sound. The sound technician could not do much more than varying in register, high or low, and volume, loud or soft. We were all pioneers learning by trial and error – and I was an avid learner. I was thoroughly motivated to help the artists and producers getting a recording which was as good as possible. Once and again, I travelled to England with some of my colleagues to find inspiration and new ideas with our colleagues there. Before I knew it, I was absorbed by my work behind the scenes. As a professional, I never played the piano again in my life.”

Not surprisingly, it was not long before the young conservatory student was asked to write some additional arrangements. “Sometime in the winter of 1967-68, when Eddy Ouwens and his group the Eddysons were recording their new single ‘Ups And Downs’, someone said, “This song would benefit from some strings here and there”. As a student, I had never been trained to write for orchestras. At the conservatoire, music theory was what we focused on. Nevertheless, boldly, I wrote a tiny score and the Eddysons had a minor hit with that particular record!” 

In the following years, besides his technician’s work, Dick Bakker wrote several arrangements to records which did well in the charts, including, most notably, ‘Mighty Joe’ by Shocking Blue, ‘Ma Belle Amie’ by Tee Set, and ‘Can I Get There By Candlelight’ by David McWilliams (all in 1969). He also was involved in writing music for television programmes recorded at the Soundpush Studios.

After seven years at Soundpush, Dick Bakker became the managing director of Dureco’s studio in Weesp in 1972. “Dureco was one of Holland’s main record companies”, Bakker comments. “They didn't have a studio of their own and wondered if I was interested to help them out… and I decided to take the leap. The studio itself still had to be built at that point. There I was, just twenty-five years old! By then, I was convinced that I had all the technical abilities to succeed, but how would we fare commercially? Fortunately, some of the pop artists from my Soundpush years followed me to the Dureco studios, including Shocking Blue and the George Baker Selection. I was ambitious to do well and relished to the challenge of managing this new studio as well as continuing my work as a technician, arranger, and later also conductor and producer. Admittedly, I put almost all of my energy in my work in those years. I was married with three children, but there were weeks when I hardly saw my family.”

At work in Dureco’s recording studio in Weesp, c. 1973

At Dureco, Bakker worked with an endless string of pop artists as a technician and arranger, including the likes of Euson, Rudi Carrell, Conny Vandenbos, Gerard Cox, Kamahl, Bolland & Bolland, and The Shoes. Amongst his arrangements were national and international hit successes such as ‘Swimming Into Deep Water’ by Don Rosenbaum (1972), ‘100 Years’ by Joey Dyser (1975), and, most notably, ‘Paloma Blanca’ by the George Baker Selection (1975).

“I had known Hans Bouwens (as George Baker is called in everyday life - BT) for some years already," Bakker comments. "I was the sound engineer at Soundpush when he recorded ‘Little Green Bag’ there. In the 1970s, I must have written some 150 arrangements to songs of his, many of which were instant hits. Hans and I were a good team. Usually, when he had an idea for a song, we recorded a demo, with just Hans accompanying himself on the guitar. From that moment, it was up to me to come up with an orchestration. In the beginning, I once made the mistake of writing an intricate arrangement with broad harmonies to one of Hans’ straightforward creations. It was obvious that Hans felt I had killed his intentions. It taught me a valuable lesson; an arranger has to be subservient to the composer’s or the artists’ intentions. Always!"

"From that moment, I have ventured to write instrumentations by imagining how the songwriter I worked with would write them, if he had had the ability to do so. Elements added by the arranger are not supposed to fill in empty spaces – a common mistake amongst arrangers – but to act as a suitable frame to a painting. The fills and riffs in ‘Paloma Blanca’, for example, were my invention. It made the song more memorable and therefore commercially even stronger than it would have been without. Judging by the fact that all cover versions of ‘Paloma Blanca’ have retained those fills, these have become an integral part of the composition itself… a suitable addition to the melody.”

Though almost completely absorbed by his arranging and recording job, Bakker sometimes composed songs himself as well. Amongst those were the international bestsellers ‘Ding-A-Dong’ by Teach-In (Eurovision winner in 1975) and ‘I Remember Elvis Presley’ by Danny Mirror (1977). In 1974, at the request of Dureco, Bakker released ‘Dick Bakker dirigeert’, an LP with his own instrumental versions of Dutch chart hits. This album, which went gold, was the first of a string of instrumental releases by the so-called Dick Bakker Orchestra. Amidst all commercial music recorded under Dick’s auspices, he worked with several easy listening and jazz artists as well, including Joop Stokkermans, Thijs van Leer, Pim Jacobs, Rita Reys, and Rogier van Otterloo.

Dick Bakker’s first record release as a solo artist, ‘Dick Bakker dirigeert’, with his instrumentations to Dutch chart hits (1974)

Prompted by the changes in the music business towards the end of the 1970s, Dick started pondering a career switch. “Gradually, the big studio orchestras were replaced by electronic devices such as synthesizers and drum machines. Many artists were no longer looking for orchestral arrangements. At the same time, I was determined to continue working with orchestras. Thanks to my connection with Rogier van Otterloo, I often had the opportunity to work in studios in London. Most of Rogier’s compositions were recorded there. He relied on me for the technical supervision of his productions. I recorded and mixed most of his Introspection records, as well as mixing his music to the film Soldier Of Orange."

"Meanwhile, I found out that quality of the session musicians in England was far superior to the standards we were used to in the Netherlands. I decided I wanted to try make a living working with English studio musicians as well. In 1977, I set up a production company, Topesa, specialising in audiovisuals and advertising music, with all recordings taking place in London. From 1977 onwards, I stopped my arranging and technician’s work for Dureco. I continued being the managing director of the studio for some more years, until my own production company became too big to continue doing both jobs simultaneously. In 1984, I withdrew from Dureco altogether.”

Between 1977 and 1992, Bakker focused on orchestral productions for major companies in Europe and beyond. “The lion’s share of my work consisted of composing, arranging, and recording music for corporate presentations and advertisements for multinationals such as Philips, KLM, Heineken, and all major American tobacco companies. The concept was hugely successful. Though I never moved to England myself, I recorded all material in London, working with top musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields."

"Writing music for advertisements requires being able to create an atmosphere in a very short piece of music. Usually, I started by making a draft, which I then worked up to a full composition. Nowadays, computers would have made my job much less laborious, but in the 1980s there was no other option but grabbing a music sheet and a pencil and writing everything out note by note. Especially the arranging part was time-consuming and a race against the clock. I learnt being quite good at time management… an absolute requirement, given the fact that I was involved in some 100 productions a year! Even when on holiday with family, I often used the early morning hours to write orchestrations. Towards the end of the 80s, I occasionally hired arrangers, simply because I lacked the time to write all material myself.”

A recording session at CTS Studios, Wembley, London (c. 1987)

“Subsequently, in the studio in London, all music had to be recorded in sessions of a limited amount of time. I became very effective at preparing. I checked all scores to avoid having to correct a mistake in the sheet music during the recording itself. While conducting the sessions, it was important to keep an eye on the clock constantly. Though I had been taught the basic techniques at conservatory, I was not a trained conductor. Since the late 1960s, I had written arrangements, usually conducting them in the studio myself. In the beginning, I had been given some instructions, but the core of conducting comes down to a certain amount of talent and charisma… the charisma required to keep the attention of a group of musicians in a studio ready to record a piece of music.”

Besides his advertisement productions, Bakker continued writing instrumental arrangements to international pop hits, which, in the 1980s, were released as a series of albums, ‘Silence in Romance’, intended for the American market and of which over one million copies were sold. Occasionally, he also composed and arranged songs for Dutch pop and jazz artists such as Willeke Alberti, Jan Vayne, Toots Thielemans, Chris Hinze, and Pieter van Vollenhoven. In 1978, Bakker’s arrangement to cabaret singer Wim Hogenkamp’s song ‘Afscheid’ won the Louis Davids Prize. In 1989, he teamed up with jazz pianist Louis van Dijk, arranging and conducting the album ‘Musica di Gloria’, which earned the duo an Edison Award.

Due to an unexpected turn of faith, in 1990, Bakker got involved in working with the Metropole Orchestra, the light entertainment orchestra of the Netherlands’ public broadcasters. Its chief conductor, Dick’s friend Rogier van Otterloo, having succumbed to an incurable disease in 1988, the ensemble had been without an artistic leader for two years already. 

“In spite of my ties with Rogier, I was not familiar with the Metropole Orchestra. In the 1980s, I wrote some arrangements for Eurovision songs which were played in the national final, but that was it! I was so immersed in my London business that there was no question of doing more. In 1990, however, the orchestra was preparing a concert with jazz singer Wim Koopmans, following Wim’s new album for which I had done all arrangements. During rehearsals, Jerry van Rooyen, who conducted most of the Metropole’s gigs since Rogier’s death, fell ill. One of the orchestra’s musicians gave me a call, asking if I could take over the rehearsals for that day – which I did. Jerry had recovered by the time of the concert, which he duly conducted."

In a recording session with Belgian mouth organ wizard Jean ‘Toots’ Thielemans, April 1990

"Now, Jerry’s ambition only lay in jazz music and he expressed no interest in other genres. That's why he never was a serious option to succeed Rogier. Later that same year, at the suggestion of some of the musicians in the orchestra who had liked working with me during that one day of rehearsing, I was approached by the Netherlands’ Public Broadcasting Service (NOS) and its Music Centre (MCO) as well as by another close friend, jazz pianist Pim Jacobs. They all wanted me to take over the orchestra. Initially, I did not feel like accepting, as my production company flourished as never before.”

“However, I changed my mind, when it was made clear to me that, if I did not accept, the orchestra would be disbanded. At that point, I thought of those major names of the past; Dolf van der Linden, the founder of the orchestra, and Rogier van Otterloo. Was there a way to save their life’s work? I decided to say yes, on the condition that I was given carte blanche as artistic director. That was in 1991. For me, it was obvious that there would be no future for the orchestra if it did not broaden its scope from just doing some entertainment music, jazz, operetta, and film scores. My goal was to create an orchestra which would also be able to play all modern styles, ranging from heavy metal and rap, to funk, as well as folk music, cabaret, and symphonic jazz. When I took over as artistic director in 1991, the first thing I had to do was professionalising the ensemble. I got rid of the freelance musicians, bringing in some 25 young talents and creating a group of 52 professionals who were at our disposal for 100 percent. I also initiated the building of a new studio.”

“Initially, I had hoped to be able to keep on working in London by just working as the Metropole Orchestra’s artistic director and leaving it up to others to do most of the conducting, but that proved an unworkable situation. Therefore, in 1992, I finally became chief conductor as well. I gathered a group of people around me whom I trusted, such as executive manager Fred Dekker, guest conductors Vince Mendoza and Jan Stulen, and a pool of arrangers who wrote material for the orchestra. Their involvement allowed me more time to manage the orchestra and focus on producing. At my prompting, we started producing our own programmes instead of waiting for a TV producer to come up with proposals. That proved hugely successful, resulting in numerous TV appearances with the band.”

Conducting the Metropole Orchestra in a concert in Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, 1993

In the first half of the 1990s, Bakker and his orchestra surprised audiences in the Netherlands and abroad by showcasing the ensemble’s new versatility. Between 1993 and 1996, in a series of concerts, ‘With a little help from my friends’, staged in Amsterdam’s pop auditorium Paradiso, Bakker conducted his Metropole Orchestra accompanying pop, punk, and metal bands such as De Dijk, Golden Earring, Rowwen Hèze, The Gathering, and Gorefest. In September 1995, Bakker and the orchestra travelled to Athens, giving a breathtaking concert of film music and works of Mikis Theodorakis in the Odeion of Herodes Atticus at the foot of the Acropolis.

“Those were two marvellous projects,” Bakker revels. “Those Paradiso concerts were considered a bridge too far by some of the musicians in my orchestra, but we went for it and received praise from the young acts we were accompanying. The concert in Athens was preceded by a tour on the island of Crete in 1994 with a programme of Demis Roussos’ songs. People there reacted enthusiastically, telling us we should try doing a show in Athens. That is how it all started. Preparing the show in Athens in 1995 cost me lots of blood, sweat, and tears. Shortly before the concert, it turned out there were budgetary problems and we nearly had to cancel the whole thing. Fortunately, a solution was found. Theodorakis’ music, with its complicated rhythms and changing metres, proved a tough nut to crack, but we were rewarded by a sell-out crowd and a fantastic concert with two bouzouki players and Greece’s top vocalist George Dalaras – everything in the presence of the maestro Mikis Theodorakis himself. For me, this was an unforgettable experience and probably my favourite Metropole Orchestra gig.”

Between 1991 and 2005, Bakker conducted the Metropole Orchestra for numerous radio and television shows with nationally acclaimed artists such as Boudewijn de Groot, Freek de Jonge, Marco Borsato, and Stef Bos as well as with international stars, including the likes of Cliff Richard, Cleo Laine, Andrea Bocelli, Laura Pausini, Patrick Bruel, and Gino Vannelli. He conducted the music to numerous successful Dutch film productions, including The Discovery Of Heaven (2001) and the Oscar winning Antonia’s Line (1996). In 1995, Bakker was awarded with a Golden Harp in recognition of his contribution to Dutch popular music; two years later, the Dutch Union of Musicians and Artists (NTB) conferred a Golden Nutcracker upon him, whilst the Metropole Orchestra won an Honorary Silver Reiss Microphone for its radio and TV work (1998).

Accompanying bouzouki virtuosos Costas Papadopoulos (left) and Lakis Carnezis with the Metropole Orchestra in a legendary concert held in the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, Athens, September 1995

Thwarted by serious back problems, which no longer enabled him to conduct in an upright position, Bakker finally had to take the decision to relinquish his post as the Metropole Orchestra’s chief conductor and artistic director in 2005. 

“At the time," Bakker adds, "there were reorganisations going on behind the scenes of the orchestra as well, involving budget cuts which I felt were unacceptable. This made it easier to hand over the baton to my successor Vince Mendoza. After fifteen years, it was good to have someone else with fresh new ideas in charge anyway. I look back with immense joy on my years with the Metropole Orchestra. The projects I worked on have enabled me to immensely broaden my musical perspective, getting to know genres I previously knew nothing about… complex jazz and avant-garde concerts with Terry Bozzio and Steve Vai, death metal and hip-hop, traditional Greek music, a concert with Frank Zappa’s compositions – and much more!”

Since 2005, Dick Bakker has kept on working in the world of music. With his son Tom, an accomplished composer and arranger in his own right, he penned a musical comedy, ‘Wat zien ik’, which premiered in 2006 and won a Rembrandt Award for best original Dutch musical production of the year. Dick Bakker also conducted the Metropole Orchestra for two studio albums with American guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, both of which were nominated for a Grammy Award. Furthermore, he conducted the studio sessions with members of the Brussels Symphony Orchestra for the first two albums of pop quintet LA The Voices (2010-11), which sold platinum and gold respectively. Most notably, however, Bakker has not severed the ties with ‘his’ Metropole Orchestra altogether, serving the orchestra as an artistic producer for certain projects.

“After I had resigned”, Bakker explains, “it turned out the orchestra was short of producers. I have agreed to do a limited number of productions a year, hand-picking the projects I like working on. Leading a production involves programming shows, picking repertoire, selecting the arrangers, making rehearsing schedules… in short, everything I used to do as a chief conductor except for the conducting bit. I have been involved in major TV productions and galas as well as the children’s show Magische Muziekfabriek.” 

In 2013, Bakker was the artistic producer of a mega show with the Metropole Orchestra and a host of Dutch popular singers in the Ahoy Concert Hall in Rotterdam celebrating the accession to the throne of King Willem Alexander. Shortly after his withdrawal as chief conductor at the Metropole Orchestra, Bakker was named an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau in recognition of his contribution to Dutch popular music.

During a recording session with the Metropole Orchestra (2015)


As a conductor, Dick Bakker took part in the last three Eurovision Song Contests with live orchestral accompaniment, being the musical director for the Netherlands’ entries from 1996 to 1998. His Eurovision involvement, however, runs much deeper than this, as he competed as a composer and arranger on several more occasions in the 1970s and 1980s. If one does not take into account the fact that he was the sound technician of the studio recording of the 1973 Dutch entry ‘De oude muzikant’ by Ben Cramer, Bakker’s first participation was in 1975, when he was responsible for composing and arranging ‘Ding Dinge Dong’. This song was interpreted by the formation Teach-In and stormed to victory in the international Eurovision final held in Stockholm. Why did Dick Bakker, who was almost completely absorbed by his arranging and recording work in those years, want to compete in the 1975 Netherlands’ Eurovision selection as a songwriter anyway? 

“At that time, I was the managing director of the Dureco Record Studio and Teach-In were one of countless acts who recorded their material there. Many of their songs were arranged by me as well. Eddy Ouwens was their producer. I knew him from the late 1960s onwards, when he was the front singer of his own pop band. As a producer, Eddy worked in my studio regularly. Either Eddy or some of the members of Teach-In told me they were looking for a good song to participate in the Eurovision heats here in the Netherlands. They wondered if I could write them a tune. Though it was interpreted by two other singers in the pre-selection, Albert West and Debbie, ‘Ding Dinge Dong’ was written with Teach-In in the back of my mind. It was not a particular ambition of mine to do Eurovision, but, hey, why not? Within ten minutes, I wrote a melody. The original title was ‘I’m the clown’. I wanted to recreate the atmosphere of a circus show.”

“However, when it turned out another song which had been selected to compete in the National Song Contest contained lyrics with the same subject, I decided we needed something different. Therefore, I turned to Will Luikinga asking him to write lyrics containing catchwords and sounds which could easily be remembered and picked up by the audience. A couple of years before, The Sweet had had a hit song, ‘Poppa Joe’, of which the lyrics worked the same way, "Poppa rumbo rumbo - hey Poppa Joe coconut". At my advice, Will took his inspiration from that particular song. The title itself, ‘Ding-a-dong’, was an imitation of the sound produced by church bells, which are referred to in the Dutch version of the lyrics."

"Will and Eddy were originally due to work on the lyrics together, but by the time Eddy arrived at Will's place, Will had finished the work by himself. Recognising the potential of ‘Ding Dinge Dong’, understandably, Eddy wanted to be credited as a songwriter. Will allowed him to be mentioned as co-lyricist. When we had finished the demo, I submitted it to Dureco – a logical choice, as I managed their record studio! To my surprise, they declined releasing it. Shortly after, music publisher Willem van Kooten was blown away instantly when he heard it. That is why it was released on his label.”

Celebrating Teach-In’s win in the 1975 Dutch Eurovision pre-selection. Seated the entire group with co-lyricist and producer Eddy Ouwens (third from right); standing behind them, from left to right: Dick Bakker (composer/arranger), Will Luikinga (lyricist), and Nico Spring in ‘t Veld (the group’s manager)

When asked about his memories of winning the Dutch pre-selection, Bakker admits, “To be quite honest with you, I hardly remember a thing. It was on the 25th of February and it was the day my youngest daughter was born. The day was chaotic and there was just enough time to rush from the nursery to Utrecht to attend the dress rehearsal. To me personally, the victory of ‘Ding Dinge Dong’ was no more than a sideshow. Next morning, countless friends and acquaintances from the music business from across the Netherlands telephoned to congratulate me… not because of our baby, but on my winning song. For my wife, this was a bittersweet experience, because, for a moment, our child seemed less important than the song. Now that we had been selected to go to Stockholm, however, we were determined to do everything within our possibilities to do well. When lacking the confidence you can actually win a competition, you might as well not take part at all. In generating publicity, there is nobody who beats Eddy Ouwens. Even on the plane to Stockholm, he handed out flyers to all other passengers.”

Although Bakker himself was responsible for the arrangement, ‘Ding Dinge Dong’ was conducted by Harry van Hoof, who had been the musical director of the National Song Contest in the Netherlands and was the Dutch broadcaster’s regular Eurovision conductor in those days. Nonetheless, Bakker was closely involved in Teach-In’s preparations.

“We felt we had a major problem… we had been drawn first. No country performing first had ever won the festival! All of this meant we were always first to rehearse as well. In all rehearsals, I noticed the sound balance was awful. The engineers needed time to get their equipment right. They more or less perused our rehearsing time to do that. Being a sound freak by profession, I thought the situation was unacceptable. We made our complaints heard to the entire organisation, even to the big boss – the producer of the show. I suggested to him allowing Teach-In to perform the song 15 minutes before the start of the live broadcast on Saturday evening to get the audience in the concert hall in the mood and to give the engineers the opportunity to adjust their equipment correctly. Though, initially, there was not much enthusiasm with the Swedish organisation for our demand, in the end it was honoured. An additional advantage was that the group was no longer nervous for their performance; after all, it was their second rendition in half an hour - and they absolutely nailed it.”

“During the live show,” Bakker continues, “I was glued to a TV set in the lobby of the building. I did not care what the impact of our song would be on the guests in the auditorium, but what it would sound like on television. In rehearsals, I had done the same. When the voting was well underway and we were in front, I wanted to enter the hall. There was some security officer who stopped me. “Anyone can say he is a composer,” he maintained. For the second time, the producer of the show had to be called upon – this time, to convince the man that I was not up to any harm. Before I was finally allowed to get in, I was searched from head to toe, while a Sten gun was directed at me… as if I was a terrorist carrying a bomb!"

Dick Bakker and the Dutch delegation meeting The Shadows, the UK’s representatives who came second behind them, at the after party in Stockholm. Bakker is flanked by lyricist Will Luikinga (to his left) and Getty Kaspers (lead singer of Teach-In); amongst the group members of The Shadows, Hank B. Marvin (far right, with glasses) can be recognised

"In the hall, I joined Will Luikinga, who couldn't believe what was happening and promised to eat his shoe if we would win… a promise he didn't keep! After the winner’s ceremony, a party was thrown by our record company CNR; the UK’s representatives, the Shadows, who had been the favourites to win the competition, joined in the celebrations there. Whilst one of them sat at the piano, they gave an impromptu performance of our song, which was a great way of congratulating us. "Couldn’t you compose a song for us?," one of them asked me, half in jest. Of course, nothing came of it."

"By the way, the Shadows and Teach-In were the only two participating acts in the contest which had used backing tracks to back up the orchestral arrangement… we had taken the decision to pre-record the rhythm instruments just to avoid any hiccups. After all, there was no guarantee the rhythm section in Sweden would be up to our standards. When Teach-In and the Shadows came first and second, it felt as a justification for our decision.”

The Dutch delegation continued celebrations back at the hotel. “All of us went downstairs and jumped into the swimming pool… fully dressed. When we came out of the water to get back to our rooms, a waiter carrying a tiny cloth followed us to dry the carpets in the corridors. Next day, back at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, a huge crowd turned up to welcome us. It was only there that I realised that Eurovision was more of an artists’ festival than a song festival… the group members were taken into a room to answer press questions, while I and the two other songwriters were not taken notice of – which was kind of strange, because we were the ones to have been handed the victory medals! Afterwards, I had mine constructed into my house’s swimming pool. Unfortunately, Teach-In did not fare well after the contest. Their management made some grave mistakes, not capitalizing on the impact of such an international success; two days after their Eurovision win, they performed in a dance hall in Roelofarendsveen.”

Looking back on the festival victory, Dick says, “This Eurovision Song Contest is certainly one of the highlights of my professional career. The song itself may not sound very complicated, but it includes some intricate harmony changes… I have never managed to compose anything like this later onwards. ‘Ding Dinge Dong’ was a worldwide success – even in America. In France, Rika Zaraï scored a hit with her version. Including all cover versions, of which there are over 100, the song sold six million single records. Though I wrote some more hits, nothing equalled winning the most internationally renowned songwriters’ competition in the world. Following our win, I received invitations from the Netherlands and abroad to write song material, but I turned down everything… I was so busy in my studio recording material with many different artists. Later in 1975, there was an even bigger international success, with George Baker’s ‘Paloma Blanca’, for which I wrote the arrangement. There was hardly time to realise what an extraordinary thing had actually happened to me.”

Teach-In's lead singer Getty Kaspers on her triumphant return to the Netherlands at Schiphol Airport - with Dick Bakker to her left

In the following years, Dick Bakker competed several times as a composer in the National Song Contest, but ‘Toen kwam jij’ (performed by Rita Hovink, 1977), ‘Rosamunde’ (Barry Duncan, 1978), and ‘Bim bam bom’ (Harmony, 1978) were not picked to represent the Netherlands internationally. In 1978, however, he wrote the arrangement to the eventual Dutch Eurovision entry, ‘’t Is OK’, performed by Harmony (conducted by Harry van Hoof). The score contained several references to Dick’s Eurovision winner of three years before, including a bell at the end, but Harmony failed to impress the international juries and finished thirteenth. 

“Harmony was a trio manufactured by my old pal Eddy Ouwens," Bakker explains. "In the run-up to the National Song Contest, we recorded several songs with them, including ‘Bim bam bom’ composed by me, and ‘’t Is OK’, which was Eddy’s composition. When ‘’t Is OK’ was chosen for the Eurovision Song Contest in Paris, I joined Eddy and the group to France to advise the delegation on sound technique. I couldn't tell you why this song did not catch on the way ‘Ding Dinge Dong' did. The biggest mystery in songwriting is always why certain creations are picked up by the general public and why others aren't.”

In those years, Dick wrote more arrangements for Eurovision compositions, such as the national final entry ‘Intercity’ by Xandra (1979). In 1980, he was responsible for the all-important orchestration to Maggie MacNeal’s Eurovision classic ‘Amsterdam’, which finished fifth in the international festival final held in The Hague. 

“Conductor Rogier van Otterloo commissioned me to write the arrangement to that song,” Bakker recalls. “He gave me a demo cassette with Sjoukje (= Maggie MacNeal, BT) singing to guitar accompaniment. As it was a song about Amsterdam, I wanted to recreate the atmosphere of that bustling city, with sounds one is likely to hear there. Therefore, I added this barrel organ flavour to it, including some unusual tonal changes. The rehearsals in The Hague went so smoothly that I went home a couple of hours before the live broadcast. Exhausted after a week of hard work, I was already in bed, when news came through our song had received a huge number of points from the first couple of juries. As part of the winning team, I was expected to be in the concert hall… but, luckily, the alarm was false and I did not have to go through the motions of driving my way back to The Hague.”

Being the arranger of the 1978 Netherlands Eurovision entry ‘’t Is OK’, Dick Bakker attended the festival in Paris to advise the Dutch delegation on sound matters

In the early 1980s, Dick Bakker wrote two songs for the National Song Contest in collaboration with lyricist Liselore Gerritsen, the first of which, ‘Een nieuw begin’ performed by Lucy Steymel (1981), objectively deserved much more than the fifth place the provincial juries awarded it with. One year later, the songwriting duo was more successful, winning the pre-selection show in the Netherlands with ‘Jij en ik’. Bill van Dijk was chosen as the most suitable vocalist to perform it. 

“Just like ‘Een nieuw begin’, ‘Jij en ik’ was a song intended for the Eurovision Song Contest from the beginning. My original idea was to create a song in retro style… something in line with Gilbert O’Sullivan’s repertoire; a guy wearing an old-fashioned outfit at the piano with two girls at his side. In an arrangement by me, ‘Jij en ik’, performed by Bill van Dijk, won the national selection. After the song had been chosen, a record version was done by Bill's producer, Piet Souer. Together with Peter Schön, he completely changed the rhythm of the song. After their makeover, the retro feel had been exchanged for a pop beat. There was no denying that it sounded more contemporary than the original. With hindsight, however, the song was given a flavour which did not do justice to the original. An arranger can do whatever he likes, as long as he respects the composer’s ideas. That is where things went wrong with ‘Jij en ik’. In all honesty, I want to stress that I gave Piet Souer permission to go ahead with his makeover, making me jointly responsible for the debacle.”

In 1982, the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Harrogate, England. The Netherlands’ entry did not go down well at all with the international juries, picking up a mere eight points and a second-last position on the scoreboard. 

“This was the fourth occasion I attended an international final, but, unlike all previous times, I had very little to do with rehearsals. After all, Piet Souer was Bill’s producer and, though he and I had worked on several projects together before, experience had taught us that we each preferred doing our own job without interference from the other… so I left most of the work up to Piet. But then again… in Eurovision, your rehearsal lasts half an hour, upon which you find yourself with leisure the rest of the day. With conductor Rogier van Otterloo and his wife also present, we enjoyed a nice couple of days off together. Of course, I was disappointed when the song did not deliver, but there was no reason for me to be extremely down-hearted. My career did not depend on that one festival entry. But still… I wish we had tried my original Gilbert O’Sullivan idea. Who knows how we would have done using that concept?”

Bakker with lyricist Liselore Gerritsen recording the demo version of 'Een nieuw begin', their entry in the 1981 Netherlands' Eurovision pre-selection

Two years later, in 1984, Bakker was again invited to write the orchestration to the Netherlands’ entry. In Luxembourg, Maribelle performed the love ballad ‘Ik hou van jou’, composed by Richard de Bois and Peter van Asten and conducted by Rogier van Otterloo, and came thirteenth. 

“On the demo cassette, I heard no more than a rather boring piece of music without any element that would grab the audience’s attention. It needed spicing up… therefore, I added this huge modulation in the middle part of the song to form a contrast with the sweet finishing notes with just the piano accompaniment. A couple of days before the live show, I travelled to Luxembourg to attend one of the rehearsals. Strikingly, ‘Ik hou van jou’ turned out to be the massive favourite with the orchestra musicians; in a bet they had organized amongst themselves, it was the runaway winner. Of course, it was one of the most orchestral songs amongst the competing entries and that might have been attractive to many of them. I am not sure if they had already seen the dress Maribelle was going to wear on the big night… Luckily, ‘Ik hou van jou’ did nicely in the charts after the festival.”

In the following years, mainly due to his extensive working activities in England, Bakker was less involved in the Netherlands’ Eurovision pre-selection, only occasionally writing the odd arrangement, such as ‘De mooiste dag’ and ‘Anne’ – two songs which participated in the 1990 selection show. Moreover, although Dick himself does not remember, he was also responsible for the orchestration to Luxembourg's 1991 Eurovision entry, 'Un baiser volé', performed by Sarah Bray. Its Belgian co-arranger and conductor, Francis Goya, explains why he turned to Bakker. 

“To tell you the truth, I was very nervous about having to conduct the Eurovision orchestra! The last thing I was looking forward to was having to correct all kinds of mistakes in the arrangement during rehearsals. Therefore, I asked some colleagues who would be best suited to take the burden of writing the orchestration off my shoulders. One thing was obvious: I wanted someone from the Netherlands. Frankly, based on my experience in the business, I’d rather trust a Dutchman than a Belgian, especially when it comes to orchestras. Someone suggested the name of Dick Bakker. I could also have gone for Harry van Hoof, who I’d worked with previously on my album ‘Rendez-vous’. Both of them are musicians who were able to write beautiful and modern orchestral arrangements. I didn’t know Dick personally, but his reputation was excellent. I explained him I wanted to count in the orchestra without worrying about the score… and, of course, Dick delivered!”

Dick Bakker with Maribelle during a rehearsal with the Metropole Orchestra (1999)

In 1991, Bakker became the musical director and chief conductor of the Metropole Orchestra, the light-entertainment orchestra of the Netherlands’ public broadcaster. Usually, the orchestra’s main conductor took care of the pre-selection show and led the orchestra for the Dutch entry in the international contest, but it was not until 1996 that Dick Bakker took charge of this particular job, leaving it to Harry van Hoof in the preceding years. 

“In my first years at the Metropole Orchestra,” Bakker explains, “I needed time to reconstruct and rejuvenate the orchestra. This was extremely time-consuming. In those years, I lacked time to take over the National Song Contest from Harry. Taking one week off from my regular activities at the orchestra to rehearse the pre-selection was simply out of the question. For that reason, I asked him to keep doing the Eurovision job. When the orchestra had taken on the shape I had had in mind at the outset, my musicians wanted me to take charge of the National Song Contest as well. It fitted exactly into the plan to turn me into the face of the orchestra; after all, Eurovision is an event generating quite some exposure. This was in 1996.”

Bakker with the Metropole Orchestra's founding father and first chief conductor, Dolf van der Linden, at the 1995 Golden Harp Gala

In 1996, Bakker conducted the Netherlands’ national final for the first time. It was won by the duo Maxine & Franklin Brown with an up-tempo song by Piet Souer and Peter van Asten, ‘De eerste keer’. 

“Though I lacked time to write orchestrations myself, I tried to be as much involved in the pre-selection as I could," Bakker comments. "I telephoned the guys who had been assigned to pen the arrangements to the different participating songs, giving them advice. Subsequently, I checked all scores, sometimes using the red pencil if there were any mistakes. There was no need to amend the arrangement to ‘De eerste keer’, because, of course, Piet Souer had written it himself – and he is a most able arranger. I felt ‘De eerste keer’ was the strongest song in the selection and a suitable choice for the Eurovision Song Contest.”

In the international final in Oslo (Norway), ‘De eerste keer’ managed to obtain a more than respectable seventh spot for the Netherlands. “While preparing for Oslo, the two songwriters and I worked together harmoniously to make sure we would get the optimum result. Our biggest problem proved to be the Norwegian orchestra, which was quite classically oriented and initially did not manage to give our song the punch it needed. It took some hours of rehearsing before we got closer to the sound we were looking for. In the end, Piet Souer, Peter van Asten and I decided it was best to simply leave out certain instruments – we believed it was better to not include certain parts than to have them played badly. All the while, I tried to inspire the orchestra musicians in the same way I used to do with my own orchestra back in the Netherlands. Winning a spot with the first ten on the scoreboard felt as a reward."

"Apart from those rehearsals, that week in Oslo was relaxed. Preparing the performance of just one song was a piece of cake compared to rehearsing the music for a show with the Metropole Orchestra. Nonetheless, I considered it a privilege to conduct in a TV programme watched by millions of viewers across the continent. After one of the rehearsals, I had a thirty-minute-chat with Noel Kelehan, the conductor from Ireland; I was curious to learn about his experiences in the contest, as I was aware he had participated so many times. Towards the end of our stay in Norway, I was approached by some of the members of the Norwegian orchestra to come back to work with them as a guest on other projects, but I politely declined… the reality was that my extensive activities with the Metropole Orchestra did not allow me to accept such an offer.”

Maxine & Franklin Brown rehearsing their performance of 'De eerste keer' at the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo

In 1997, the Netherlands were represented by a close harmony group by the name of Mrs. Einstein, which performed six songs in the pre-selection show, from which the up-tempo ‘Niemand heeft nog tijd’ (written by Ed Hooijmans) emerged as the winner. 

"As in several other editions of the National Song Contest," Bakker comments, "I was in the selection committee which chose the most suitable songs for the national final. Unfortunately, the television audience went for ‘Niemand heeft nog tijd’. The song submitted by Hans van Hemert (‘Dat liefde zo moet zijn’ - BT) was much stronger. Shortly before we left for the international final in Dublin, I heard all the other participating songs. From that moment onwards, I knew we were fighting a losing battle: I was 100% convinced that Katrina & The Waves from Britain with ‘Love Shine A Light’ would be the winners. At a reception organised in Ireland, they performed their song acoustically, accompanied by a single guitar… even then it stood out. Though our delegation leader Willem van Beusekom was somewhat bemused, I told to everyone present at that party that a UK victory was inevitable.”

Bakker’s intuition was correct, as Katrina & The Waves easily beat all competition in Dublin. Mrs. Einstein, however, failed to make an impression, scoring a humbling five points and a twenty-second position on the scoreboard. 

“The reality was that neither our entry nor Mrs. Einstein had the international level required to do well a Eurovision Song Contest. True, the ladies of Mrs. Einstein were in a buoyant mood all week. While rehearsing and during trips which were organised for us, they entertained all delegates by polyphonically singing all other participating entries in the festival. At the same time, I felt they performed an act rather than being genuine and open – and they were a little too old for Eurovision, as well. We didn't stand a chance. Back at Schiphol Airport, I made the mistake of telling a journalist why I felt things in Dublin had gone wrong. Saskia van Zutphen, the leader of Mrs. Einstein, did not take my words lightly. As in Oslo, the orchestra in Dublin was not as good as what I was used to with my own Metropole Orchestra and session orchestras in London… in the course of the rehearsals, I adapted the string arrangement in a way that enabled the classically oriented Irish violinists to play along without ruining the performance.”

At the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, flanked by the Mrs. Einstein quintet, from left to right: Suzanne Venneker, Saskia van Zutphen, Marjolein Spijkers, Linda Snoeij, and Paulette Willemse

Quite opposite to the underwhelming national final of the year before, the 1998 National Song Contest, held in the RAI Concert Hall in Amsterdam, was a top-notch event with some excellent songs. Helped by a confident performance by Edsilia Rombley, ‘Hemel en aarde’, composed by Jochem Fluitsma and Eric van Tijn, won the ticket to the international final in Birmingham. One of the red-hot favourites to win the competition, ‘Hemel en aarde’ finished fourth. Dick Bakker conducted it in Amsterdam as well as in the international final – in what later turned out to be the last Eurovision Song Contest with live orchestral accompaniment. 

“For once, the correct song won the selection show in Holland… and what a great show it was, indeed! With a live orchestra on stage and an enthusiastic auditorium, we managed to create a wonderful atmosphere. Conducting the orchestra in Birmingham felt like coming home… I knew all the guys in it from my work in the recording studios in London. They played our score without any problem and left me with very little to do except for encouraging the musicians to put in the right amount of swing! Wisely with an upbeat song, the two songwriters had decided to have the rhythm part of the arrangement on backing tracks… it avoided discussions between the orchestra and the song’s production team about the correct sound. Unfortunately, in Birmingham, hardly anybody talked about the participating songs… all press attention was directed towards Dana International, who won the festival for all the wrong reasons. In this carnival, I admired Edsilia, our young singer, for staying cool and collected throughout the week.”

When news transpired late in 1998 that there would be no orchestral accompaniment in the 1999 Eurovision Song Contest in Jerusalem, Bakker made his disbelief about this decision known in the media. In a TV interview in March 1999, he said, “What will the next step be? An MTV kind of programme with clips instead of live performances? I think a music contest should be an exciting event in which all entries are sung and played live; it should be more than a contest in which songwriters submit their work… it should be about a performer giving his all in a live show and not just with a backing track. Without an orchestra, the contest will look kind of cheap.” 

Edsilia Rombley winning the 1998 Netherlands' Eurovision pre-selection, with Dick Bakker in the back conducting the orchestra for her

Nonetheless, Bakker was once again one of the members of the committee selecting the songs for the Eurovision heats in the Netherlands. “In the committee, we agreed that Marlayne and ‘One Good Reason’ was the best choice for Jerusalem. I was positively sure we would at least get in the first five with that song – but it did not really materialize. I had high hopes that, finally, the Netherlands had found the successor of Teach-In.”

Still in 1999, Dick Bakker was one of the driving forces behind a concert with the Metropole Orchestra and a string of former Dutch Eurovision representatives who performed their song entirely live with Bakker’s ensemble; this charity event, held in Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek for an ecstatic audience, was broadcast on nationwide television and released on CD. Meanwhile, Bakker had, for the first time since eighteen years, submitted a composition of his own for the National Song Contest: ‘Close Harmony’ by a quartet called Splash. 

“With ‘Close Harmony’, I hoped to be able to make a statement about live music,” Dick explains. “It was a song with massive orchestral accompaniment, which I had originally written at the request of the Dutch Interior Ministry for some conference. I recorded the music with session players in London. With some slight adaptations to the lyrics, it was chosen for the 2000 National Song Contest. We were the favourite to win the competition… but the four singers made a hash of their performance by singing dramatically off key. We came second behind Linda Wagenmakers’ dress. You can imagine I felt gutted, first because the song we lost to was so lousy. Moreover, though, I had had high hopes of repeating my statement about live music and the need to have an orchestra in the contest on the international podium.”

In 2001, Bakker was involved in an initiative to get the orchestra back into the contest’s concept. He launched it in collaboration with Eurovision aficionado, journalist, and long-time TV commentator of the event, Willem van Beusekom.

With 1969 Eurovision winner Lenny Kuhr (1999)

“I felt hurt that the EBU had decided to simply abandon the idea of a live orchestra altogether. Look, I am a realist – I understand artists and producers who, worried about the quality of an orchestra in a foreign country with which they have never previously worked, prefer pre-recorded tracks. Especially nowadays, many songs rely on sound effects and a heavy beat which cannot always be reproduced by an orchestra. In 1975, when I participated in the contest as a composer, it was me who decided to pre-record the rhythm elements and have the string and brass elements of the Swedish orchestra play along with that. Doing so, I was sure that my song would sound well.”

“Sometime in 2001, I talked to Willem van Beusekom. We agreed that the Eurovision Song Contest was rapidly becoming a farcical event due to the lack of real music. At the same time, we understood worries of artists who did not want to work with a second-rate orchestra. That is why we proposed to simply ‘offer’ the Metropole Orchestra to the organizing country every year. The Metropole Orchestra is a professional orchestra which is used to working on popular music; its musicians would be able to accompany both modern and more traditional Eurovision entries to perfection. What was more, other countries could never have complained about the financial consequences of an orchestra with over 50 expensive musicians who should be paid for their job. This is because the members of the Metropole Orchestra are officially employees of the Netherlands’ national broadcaster, who have a fixed salary which doesn't increase with a new commission. The only thing that would have to be done, was blocking the orchestra’s other professional activities for the duration of two weeks to allow the musicians and artists to rehearse and perform all arrangements.”

At the European Broadcasting Union, however, the Dutch initiative was not greeted with enthusiasm. “Willem brought forward our proposal in a meeting of delegation leaders. Unfortunately, most other countries wanted nothing of it. They maintained they would have encountered difficulties in finding artists who agreed to participate in a show with a live orchestra. It's a pity my orchestra was not taken more seriously. To my mind, in the Eurovision Song Contest, it should be made compulsory to play all string and brass elements in an arrangement live with the orchestra, with an option to use a pre-recorded click track with rhythm elements… although I am convinced that the Metropole Orchestra could play most of those even better and without any problem.”

"It's such a pity that some people think of an orchestra as something which is outdated, old-fashioned," Dick concludes. "Apparently they don't realise that even Metallica recorded one of their albums with a large orchestra, just to give an example. Many songs in the charts today contain string and brass elements. Unfortunately Eurovision took a turn away from what it was originally about. It was conceived as a competition between songwriters. The award was given not to the performing artist, but to the composer. Nowadays, the composition is hardly given any attention. The act has become all-important; it's the act which decides the outcome. Dana International, Linda Wagenmakers – in short, who has the most impressive dress and how do they take it off on stage? Technically speaking, there's no denying that the Eurovision Song Contest is a wonderful show, but the original idea has vanished behind the horizon."

Conducting an open-air concert with the Metropole Orchestra on Museum Square, Amsterdam (2005)


George Baker (Hans Bouwens), singer and composer of ‘Little Green Bag’ and ‘Paloma Blanca’, had virtually all of his 1970s hits arranged by Dick Bakker. “I first met Dick in the Soundpush Studio, where he worked as a sound engineer and arranger, and it was not long before he started writing arrangements for me as well. Our method was simple: I went to him with demos of my songs, usually containing guitar, bass, vocals, and a drum machine; in the demo, I also explained Dick about my ideas for the orchestration. I learnt so much from him, simply by listening how he put an arrangement together, layer after layer. Dick was my George Martin… his additions to my song were hugely valuable. Dick with his classical training and I, who had no background at all – just a simple street musician –, proved a golden combination. Without him, I would maybe have had all those big hits, but they would not have been that special. It always was a joy working with him.” (2013)

Conductor Jan Stulen regularly performed with the Metropole Orchestra as a guest from the 1970s onwards until shortly before his passing in 2017. “In the course of the past decades, I have come to know Dick Bakker as a most amiable and modest man. He has proved his talent in many areas of music. As a sound engineer, producer, composer, arranger, and most notably as the Metropole Orchestra’s chief conductor, Dick has played an immensely important role in Dutch popular music. His commitment to bring back live music to the Eurovision Song Contest is proof of his big musician’s heart. In several productions of the Metropole Orchestra which I conducted, I was happy to make use of Dick’s staggering knowledge of, especially, Dutch pop repertoire. I hope we will be able to enjoy his expertise for many years to come.” (2013)

Violinist Lucja Domski played in Jan Stulen’s Promenade Orchestra until joining the Metropole Orchestra in 1984, thus working with Bakker for the full fourteen years of his time as a chief conductor with the orchestra (1991-2005). “The first word that comes to mind when thinking of Dick Bakker is ‘passionate’. When Dick starts on a project, he always puts in all of his energy and enthusiasm. In the early 90s, the Metropole Orchestra did ‘With a little help from my friends’, a series of concerts with pop and underground artists in the Paradiso Concert Hall. We got to play genres of music most of us had not even ever heard of before, learning about grunting and many other things that were new to us. What energy we all got from these performances… and Dick conducted us in swinging style, as if he had never done anything else in his life! Though, once in a while, some of the orchestra musicians were sceptic about the feasibility of his adventurous projects, he always managed to succeed in the things he embarked upon. As our chief conductor, he was approachable and very nice to work with. We are happy to still have him back with us as a producer on several projects a year.” (2013)

At the presentation of his biography with Will Luikinga (centre) and author Bas Tukker (Utrecht, 2017)


Country  Netherlands
Song title – "Ding Dinge Dong"
Rendition  Teach-In (John Gaasbeek / Getty Kaspers / Ruud Nijhuis / Koos Versteeg / Ard Weeink / Chris de Wolde)
Lyrics – Will Luikinga / Eddy Ouwens
Composition  Dick Bakker
Studio arrangement  Dick Bakker
Live orchestration  Dick Bakker
Conductor – Harry van Hoof
Score – 1st place (152 votes)

Country – Netherlands
Song title – "’t Is OK"
Rendition – Harmony (Rosina Lauwaars / Donald Lieveld / 
Ab van Woudenberg)
Lyrics – Toon Gispen / Dick Kooyman 
Composition – Eddy Ouwens
Studio arrangement – Dick Bakker
Live orchestration – Dick Bakker
Conductor – Harry van Hoof
Score – 13th place (37 votes)

Country – Netherlands
Song title – "Amsterdam"
Rendition – Maggie MacNeal (Sjoukje Smit-van 't Spijker)
Lyrics – Alex Alberts
Composition – Frans Smit / Sjoukje Smit-van 't Spijker / 
Robert Verwey
Studio arrangement – Dick Bakker
Live orchestration – Dick Bakker
Conductor – Rogier van Otterloo
Score – 5th place (93 votes)

Country – Netherlands
Song title – "Jij en ik"
Rendition – Bill van Dijk
Lyrics – Liselore Gerritsen
Composition – Dick Bakker
Studio arrangement – Dick Bakker / Piet Souer / Peter Schön
Live orchestration – Dick Bakker / Piet Souer / Peter Schön
Conductor – Rogier van Otterloo
Score – 16th place (8 votes)

Country – Netherlands
Song title – "Ik hou van jou"
Rendition – Maribelle 
Lyrics – Peter van Asten / Richard de Bois
Composition – Peter van Asten / Richard de Bois
Studio arrangement – Dick Bakker
Live orchestration – Dick Bakker
Conductor – Rogier van Otterloo
Score – 13th place (34 votes)

Country – Luxembourg
Song title – "Un baiser volé"
Rendition – Sarah Bray (Mick Wersant) 
Lyrics – Linda Lecomte / Mick Wersant
Composition – Patrick Hippert
Studio arrangement – Francis Goya / Bernard Wrincq 
Live orchestration – Dick Bakker
Conductor – Francis Goya
Score – 14th place (29 votes)

Country – Netherlands
Song title – "De eerste keer"
Rendition – Maxine & Franklin Brown
Lyrics – Piet Souer
Composition – Piet Souer / Peter van Asten 
Studio arrangement – Piet Souer
Live orchestration – Piet Souer
Conductor – Dick Bakker
Score audio semi-final – 9th place (63 votes)
Score final – 7th place (78 votes)

Country – Netherlands
Song title – "Niemand heeft nog tijd"
Rendition – Mrs. Einstein 
Lyrics – Ed Hooijmans
Composition – Ed Hooijmans
Studio arrangement – Gerbrand Westveen
Live orchestration – Gerbrand Westveen / Dick Bakker
Conductor – Dick Bakker
Score – 22nd place (5 votes)

Country – Netherlands
Song title – "Hemel en aarde"
Rendition – Edsilia Rombley
Lyrics – Jochem Fluitsma / Eric van Tijn
Composition – Jochem Fluitsma / Eric van Tijn
Studio arrangement – Jochem Fluitsma / Eric van Tijn / Gerbrand Westveen
Live orchestration – Gerbrand Westveen
Conductor – Dick Bakker
Score – 4th place (150 votes)

  • Bas Tukker interviewed Dick Bakker in Blaricum (Netherlands), December 2008; additional conversations were held in 2013 and 2016 
  • Bas Tukker's biography of Dick Bakker: "Dick Bakker. Componist - arrangeur - dirigent. Achter de schermen van de muziek", ed. Metropole Orkest: Hilversum 2017
  • Many thanks to George Baker, Jan Stulen, and Lucja Domski for their additional comments
  • A book about the history of the Netherlands’ involvement in the Eurovision Song Contest: Ferry K. van der Zant, “Wanneer wordt het weer een beetje net als toen”, edited by Stichting Eurovision Artists, Utrecht: part 1: 2003 / part 2: 2005
  • Photos courtesy of Dick Bakker, Roel Koster, Linda Snoeij, and Ferry van der Zant

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