|An E-Mail Interview with Hans Nagel,
Singer and lead guitarist of The Hot Rollers
How did the Hot Rollers get started?
In de mid fifties my brother Henry and I started immitating songs from the Everly Brothers and we named ourselves "The Nail Brothers" (Nail is english for Nagel). Not long after that Hans Spies and Jan Hobé joined in. At the first gig for a real audience Henry Nagel played rhythm, Hans Spies accordeon, Jan Hobé drums and Hans Nagel played bass on a tea-chest with only one string. On the same bill was also the band "Black Magic", who became well known later on, but they were totally unknown at that time.
The next gig was at a highschool party, a female singer came up to the stage and asked if she could sing a few songs. The girl was Greetje Bozelie and she later joined the Hot Rollers as a regular singer. Greetje became quite well known a few years later as "Greetje Mona". At that time she also had her own band with Bart Spee on drums and Bart decided to join us too. Shortly after that, some guys from the neigbourhood (Edo Gang and Boy Marlisa) also joined in, Hans and Jan left, the name of the band was changed and "The Hot Rollers" were a fact.
How often did the Hot Rollers play at live gigs?
In the early days we only played on Saturdays, but due to the increasing demand for indo-rock music, we started playing 2 or 3 times a week all over Holland, often playing 2 or 3 gigs a day. We also played in Germany several times, in towns like Ludenscheid, Kierspedorf and some others.
Did the Hot Rollers play with other bands too?
We often shared bill with Rudy van Dalm & The Royal Rythmics, Hans Boekhout & The Blue Flames, Herman van Keeken, Duo Alegria, The Last Boys, Band van Dries Holten, The Luckberries, Ciska Peeters, The Caspel Brothers, Jan Zijdel, Tobi Rix, Herman Broekhuizen, Harry de Groot, The Young Sisters, The Chinooks and many, many more...
You must have quite a few good memories?
Yes, we were the first rock 'n' roll band ever to play in a Catholic church, mixing gospels with rock 'n' roll in what was called a "beat-mass". We did this several times and it was a lot of fun.
Some other time we were playing at the "Hof van Holland" in Hilversum with a number of well known radio artists and the place was absolutely packed with teenagers. During the sessions of the "well known" artists, we mingled with the crowd and watched the show. After our own gig we had to quickly sneek out the back door, because the youngsters loved our show so much, they were crowding us for signatures. Well, we had electric guitars of course :)
What kind of instruments did the band use in those days?
In the beginning Henry played a regular jazz guitar, the other guys had Egmonds and I had an accoustic Spanish guitar. Our first amplifiers were plain radios, only 5 watts, and we just plugged our guitars to the record-player line-in. We had to yank the strings pretty hard to be heard at all, so we often broke our strings. Luckily we had two lead guitarists (Boy and me), so we could just continue playing when one of us had broken a string.
Later on we got better instruments and equipment like Hoffner and Framus guitars and Egmonds with reverberation and echolette. We could never afford Fenders or other expensive stuff, but our musical qualities were pretty good just the same. We did get our hands on a few guitar amps that were made by Willy Wissink (of Willy and the Giants fame).
Did you have your own transportation in those days?
No, we couldn't afford that. If we played in the neighbourhood, we often rented a cab just to move our equipment and we would get there on our bicycles. That was the cheapest way. At one time we were on our way to play at a wedding for about 2000 people, we rented a van for the occasion, and the gas cable broke. We lead the cable from under the van to the side window. I was sitting there with one arm outside the window to pull the cable. We still arrived at the wedding in time and we had a lot of fun getting there.
How long did the band continue to exist?
Well, we started back in 1958 and we lasted till about 1965. At that time the Beatles scored big on the hitparade and there was little demand for indo-rock sound for a while. Sound familiar?
Did the Hot Rollers have any records out?
We did some shows for a booking office, and we were promised a record contract. We also did a show for a Dutch radiostation, who also kinda promised us a contract, but neither of them ever came through for us. We had a reunion concert in 1981, Greetje was there too, and we recorded the gig to be issued on LP. The reunion was a blast, but the recordings failed, so there we were, empty handed again. A few years ago Rarity Records issued a CD with 6 tracks recorded in 1961. At this point, these tracks are the only Hot Rollers' tracks available.
What happened to the Hot Rollers after that?
Henry, Hans and Bert still live in the same neighborhood and they sometimes play at birthday parties with a friend named Arthur (from Arthur and the Croonies). Edo's health is not what it used to be, I'm sorry to say, and Boy now lives in Indonesia. Greetje moved to Limburg (in the south of Holland) en other bandmembers still meet now and then at parties. Jan Hobé became a well knwon referee in Dutch soccer and Hans Spies is still playing in a band called "Vanguard."
The original Hot Rollers:
Hans Nagel: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Boy Marlisa: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Edo Gang: Rhythm Guitar
Henry Nagel: Bass, Vocals
Jan Hobé: Drums
Other musicians that played with the Hot Rollers:
Guitarists: Rob Stecher, Eric Nutzmann, Hans Spies,
Cor Nagel and Jopie Matakena
Drummers: Bert Spee, Frank Marlisa, Chris van de Eijkel,
Jos Markus, Anis Pasanea, Theo van Rossum.
©2000 BlackCat Rockabilly Europe
Courtesy of Hans Nagel, firstname.lastname@example.org