Editorials & Opinion

Xtra’s pick of the 50s & 60s

Welcome to a new daily series from escXtra. Every day, one of our editors will travel back in time to shine the spotlight on a song of their choice from past Eurovisions. We will revisit a different era each day, so since today is Monday, we go right back to the start – the 50s and 60s – as Nick brings you his pick from the Eurovision archives.

Belgium 1957: Bobbejaan Schoepen – Straatdeuntje (8th place)

It’s 1957. The Eurovision Song Contest is entering its second edition and somehow we already expect chansons and other ballads flying around to fight for the trophy. Some countries try to bring a breathe of fresh air by doing something different. A song about a pony, a song which ends in a big kiss and this: whistling by one of Belgium’s most successful singers.
Bobbejaan Schoepen, 32 years of age, was a true pioneer for Belgian music. And that resulted in him going to Eurovision, where he allegedly did not know what his song would be until his first rehearsal. So there he was, whistling his way through a ‘street tune’ and seeing he finished right near the bottom: Tied for second last.
But Bobbejaan remained successful. Being tired of his tours around the world and Belgium, he bought a place for himself to do performances in 1959: 30 acres in Lichtaart now belonged to Bobbejaan Schoepen. He just wanted that place to perform, but as time evolved, the land was used for more than music: Attractions were built, several rides… And then there was a theme park: Bobbejaanland. Needless to say, Bobbejaan made good money. Last year, Bobbejaanland was chosen as one of Belgium’s finest theme parks.
Bobbejaan Schoepen sold the park in 2004, but kept living there until he died in 2010. He’s a true pioneer for Belgian music, a pioneer in theme parks and a perfect example on Eurovision does not kill your career. A story worth to be told.

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