No moody blues for Elvis

2010-11-06 00:00

ELVIS Blue (Jan Hoogendyk) was only six years old when he discovered his love for music.

The little guy had a yellow Walkman and three tapes – one of ABBA, one of Michael Bolton and one of Steve Hofmeyr.

“On Tuesday night, after the Idols final, I told Steve I used to listen to his tapes till my Walkman’s batteries were flat and he started sounding like the Elephant Man. Then I would take the batteries out, rub them between my hands, put them back in and carry on listening.”

Although he sang in the choir when he was a young child it was only at 16 that he realised he really wanted to sing. He didn’t have the name Elvis Blue yet — that came only recently, with Idols — but his love for love songs had already started.

The youthful Hoogendyk bought himself a guitar and started writing songs. He would sing these songs to the girls he was eyeing out and say they were U2 numbers. “They probably thought U2 was a rotten band, because my songs sucked.”

After matric Hoogendyk started singing on street corners with his guitar. That was when he realised he wanted to become a musician, and enrolled for a two-year course in contemporary music at Allenby College in Bramley, Johannesburg.

He then started a ten-year struggle to try and establish himself as a musician. “I decided people had to hear me sing. The way to make that happen, I reckoned, was to make a CD.”

He borrowed money, recorded a CD and organised a big launch, to which many people were invited. “I punted myself pretty hard. There were even two guys from Gallo at the launch. They liked the CD and offered me a contract.”

Hoogendyk sold about 100 copies of his CD, Janitor, fairly quickly. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to cover the cost of the project. And he had a contract in his hands. But the second CD, Mono and stereo, which he recorded under the name Mono, wasn’t a success.

“Gallo suffered a massive loss and didn’t want to do another album with me. Look, I worked very hard, but it wasn’t enough. But I wanted to do another album, so I borrwed some money again. And I did a lot of gigs.

“And I did really big stuff — for example, I opened for Just Jinjer, and performed with Karen Zoid and other big names. I reckon I must have been very forgettable, because none of that did anything for my career” — says the man who now has the whole country talking in a blue wave of excitement and joy.

The tough times got Hoogendyk down, and when his third CD couldn’t make it either he decided to call it a day as far as his musical dreams were concerned. He and his wife Chireze packed their possessions and moved to George, where he gave music lessons. It was a way for him still to live out his love for music. And it was, he says, one of the best things he could have done, because it took him out of the music world.

But not for long.

A good friend, Jaco Odendaal of Broken Records, who had produced his CDs, encouraged him to try yet again — this time in Afrikaans.

There were two attempts: Diep rivier and Ontskemer. Neither made the grade.

But that was not the end of the road for Hoogendyk, even though he thought so at the time. Elvis Blue was beckoning on the horizon.

“I cannot help wondering,” I said to him, “why the country’s new Idol didn’t take part in the competition before.”

He thinks about it for a moment, then confesses that perhaps he had been a bit arrogant. He wanted to make it on his own, not with the help of a reality show.

But one evening when he was visiting a friend in Cape Town the two of them downed too many espressos and Hoogendyk couldn’t get to sleep properly that night. “I slept in fits and starts, but every time I drifted off I dreamt that I was in in Idols. I even dreamt about what I would say to Randall when he asked me questions.

“That was when I said to my wife that if no one will give me a contract I would enter Idols. Sometimes you just have to stick your pride in your pocket.”

Four days before the auditions in Cape Town, Chireze reminded him of what he’d said and Hoogendyk left for Cape Town, where he had Mara Louw, one of the judges, in tears.

The day after winning the competition the young father was still struggling to register what had happened to him.

“It is an out-of-body experience. I simply cannot believe that it’s happened to me. It is amazing and weird. I’m experiencing mixed emotions, because I’m sad for L’loyd. I am overwhelmed with emotions.”

Hoogendyk believes there were two Idols winners again this year. He is happy because he won a car. And his CD will be issued first.

“But today isn’t such a lekker day,” he says seriously, because there is a title. And I have the title.”

But L’loyd, the man who was his roommate for a long period in the Idols house, is a man of integrity and someone who will remain his friend for many years. “We are brothers.”

And, he adds, he doesn’t believe that it is necessarily always the best person who wins. “There were people in the top 100 who are better than me. I believe God opens doors for one. This was the right time and place for me.”

Yes, and so Elvis became king. Jan Hoogendyk aka Elvis Blue, holds the newspaper in which he was announced as the winner, with mixed feelings.

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