Guus Meeuwis is a Dutch singer and songwriter who made his breakthrough with backing band Vagant in the mid'90s. At the turn of the century, Meeuwis became a solo artist and secured a steady following and enduring success well into the new century. As a musician, he mixes recognizable melody lines with reflective and romantic lyrics.
Meeuwis was born in Mariahout, on March 23, 1972. In his early teens, he picked up the guitar and started singing. After high school, he went to Tilburg to study, and in 1994, he and a couple of friends entered a talent competition in Leiden and won with a single entitled "Het Is Een Nacht" (Meeuwis wrote it after a romantic weekend with his girlfriend). As a result, the group was offered a recording contract. The single appeared in the summer of 1995, and reached the number one position within a few weeks, selling over 250,000 copies. His next single, "Per Spoor (Kedeng, Kedeng)," also reached the number one position, staying there for three weeks. His first studio effort, Verbazing, a double album, was released in 1996; it contained both hit singles and sold in excess of a 150,000 copies. Meeuwis and Vagant were both loathed and loved for their student-like appearance and sound, but despite their critics, their success was unquestionable.
Second album Schilderij was recorded and released in 1997, and spawned two more hits, "Ik Tel Tot Drie" and "‘T Dondert en Het Bliksemt," selling 70,000 copies. Although still substantial, Vagant's success was declining. Meeuwis' biggest success of that year came after penning a number one single, "Toen Ik Je Zag," sung by actor Antonie Kamerling on the soundtrack to the film All Stars.
Vagant's third and final studio album, 1 Voor Allen, was recorded over the course of a few years and finally hit stores in the beginning of 2001. Meeuwis experienced trouble with his vocal chords, and even underwent an operation. With 1 Voor Allen, Meeuwis tried to sail a new, more serious course, but record sales were disappointing.
Unhappy with the image and expectations of Vagant, Meeuwis became eager to change his musical persona and establish a more mature appearance and audience. So in 2001, Vagant broke up. With studio musicians filling in for Vagant, Meeuwis released his first solo album a year later, simply entitled Guus Meeuwis, on the EMI label. For the record, Meeuwis enlisted the help of respected musicians such as Daniel Lohues and Paskal Jakobsen, and covered a song of critic's darling Frans Halsema. None of the album's singles, however, reach the Top 40.
All this changed in 2004, when Meeuwis was asked to perform "Geef Mij Nu Je Angst" by the widow of Andre Hazes at the latter's funeral ceremony. Meeuwis had recorded the song earlier that year as the B-side of the single "Ik Wil Je" and performed it at Hazes' 25th anniversary concert. The song was released as a single, and reached the top of the charts. Later that year, Meeuwis released 10 Jaar Levensecht, a best-of compilation which included two new singles. The album was an immediate success, eventually selling over 150,000 copies.
Meeuwis' second solo album, Wijzer, appeared a year later. Lead single "De Weg," became a hit, and after three sold-out shows at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam, Meeuwis embarked upon a theater tour. In 2006, to top off his comeback success, he also won a Gouden Harp and an Edison Award. Wijzer would eventually sell 70,000 copies.
Never a prolific songwriter, Meeuwis locked himself in a beach house, and came back a week later, after he had written enough material for his next album, Hemel Nr. 7, which was released in 2007. The single "Tranen Gelachen" reached the number one position, and the album became his most successful record in years, hitting the top of the Dutch charts (his first number one album since Vagant's Verbazing in 1996).
Summer performances in PSV Eindhoven's football stadium kept Meeuwis busy the next few years, culminating in a four-night residence during the summer of 2008. One year later, his fourth studio album appeared in May. Titled NW8, it promptly hit number one to match the success of Hemel Nr. 7 and eventually went platinum in the Netherlands two-times over. A compilation, Het Beste van Guus Meeuwis, charted well upon release in late 2010.
Meeuwis' fifth album, Armen Open, continued his streak of number one albums; released in May 2011, it spent over a year in the charts. Het Kan Hier Zo Mooi Zijn appeared in May 2013; although it was kept from the top of the charts, it was among the Dutch best-sellers for all of 2013 and much of 2014. Hollandse Meesters, recorded with Meeuwis fronting New Cool Collective Big Band, hit number one in the Netherlands upon release in October 2014. ~ Philip D. Huff