Big in South Africa!

How it all began

Roy's interest in the Eurovision Song Contest first started in the 1980's. He was a member of Germany's Nicole's fan club. Roy adds "Nicole took part in the 1982 contest, and went on to win. I think at the time I was the only non German person to know of her when she won. The German delegation invited me to the 1983 contest which they hosted in Munich. Since then I firstly concentrated on Ralph Siegel songs. We just recorded the 80th Ralph Siegel song in Afrikaans very recently and we presented him with an award for that. We have also done a lot of work with his associate Bernd Meuninger, and we reached the 100th cover version in Afrikaans recently. The artist who recorded the most Nicole songs was Rina Hugo, one of her CD's actually had six Nicole songs on there."

1991 was another significant year for Roy, as he loved the Icelandic entry Nina from Stefan and Eyfi. Roy says "I just loved that song, I couldn't believe it did so badly. I took the song to an artist called Bles Bridges, he recorded it and it sold over 120,000 coipies, now in South Africa platinum is 40,000. The lyric is completely different although the song is still called Nina. It's about a girl going to the park buying ice cream. Bles liked the Eurovision songs, and recorded some more including Frei Zu Leben, the German 1990 entry, it was called Let Me Love You in English. I loved the German entry from 1991 by Atlantis 2000, and when I like a song I always try to push it, he covered that too. He did around 12 Eurovision songs in total. Every CD he released went at least platinum, he was a superstar, and still is nine years on from his death in 2000."

The Eurovision Song Contest is not broadcast on terrestrial television in South Africa adds Roy "We don't get the broadcast, but there are some big Greek and Portuguese communities in South Africa so they do have the ability to watch live. We get BBC1 on satellite so can watch the final but not the Semi-Finals unfortunately."

Huge success stories

There have been some very big selling Eurovision Song Contest cover versions that Roy has promoted and arranged over the years, he tells us a bit more about some of the most recent successes. "The biggest ever hit was back in 1999, I arrived in Jerusalem having not heard any of the songs. I went with a South African artist called Patricia Lewis. We heard the Swedish song Take Me To Your Heaven and she immediately liked it. We recorded it, and when we sent a copy to Sweden, to the songwriters, they were so impressed they made a whole CD with her. This was the biggest selling Eurovision hit ever, over 400,000 copies. More recently, last year I immediately knew the Latvian song Pirates Of The Sea would be a big hit in South Africa. There are actually two versions and it has become an anthem in the sports stadiums. It is used when the national Rugby team is playing. The Afrikaans version is called Hi Hi Ho. People sing it when they are at the stadiums."

Last year, Roy said 11 of the songs were covered. He is a man in demand upon his return from the Eurovision Song Contest. He explains "When I arrive back home, the artists call me and I arrange a day for them to come and hear the songs. I work on a first come first served basis, so for example my meeting on Day 1 the artist will hear all 42 songs this year. They can decide which one they would like to cover, and I give them a copy of the CD. The next day the following singer then has 41 songs they can listen to and choose from and so on. Quite often songs are very popular, and a number of different versions are recorded, for example we had four versions of Chiara's Angel in 2005."

Potential hits of 2009?

So how does Roy find the time to organise all of this in his day to day life you may wonder. He tells us "It's a hobby for me, I don't work now. A company I was working for went bankrupt a few years ago, and my contract stated that I could only be asked to work within five kilometres from home. The new company who took over wanted me to move city, so I took them to court and won and received a payout and now a pension, and I can't work."

Finally, Roy gave his thoughts on what could be the potential big hits from the 2009 contest in South Africa. He confirms "The ones I feel will be the hits this year are Bosnia Herzegovina, Romania and The Netherlands. We actually already did a demo version of Denmark, I saw it was written by Ronan Keating so I wanted to see if it would work as a hit here." would like to thank Roy for the interview and his time. Keep up your excellent work Roy!


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