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Wally Tax (1948-2005) was a Dutchmarker singer and songwriter, best known as founder and frontman of the Nederbeat group The Outsiders. After commercial and artistic success with The Outsiders in the late 1960s, he had a brief solo career in the 1970s, and then was a successful songwriter, producing a number of hit songs for Dutch artists. He faded into obscurity in the 1980s; after his death in 2005 two benefit concerts in Amsterdam proved his lasting popularity and influence.

Biography

Tax was born of a Dutch father and a Russian Romani mother; his parents had met in a concentration camp during World War II. He grew up in Amsterdammarker and learned English at an early age from contacts with American sailors, for whom he acted as a pimp. In 1959, at age 11, he was one of the founding members of the beat band The Outsiders. The band sang English lyrics, with Tax as the main songwriter; Tax sang and played guitar and harmonica. Even while playing with The Outsiders, Tax recorded a solo album (with a symphonic orchestra), Love-In.

The Outsiders reached a measure of success, opening up for The Rolling Stones in 1966 and scoring a number of Dutch hits. They were one of the best-known bands of the Nederbeat movement--when they signed with Phonogram Records in 1968, Billboard reported on it. Leading what Billboard called "the leading Dutch beat group," Tax had a high profile--he was reported to have the longest hair in the country, and lived a lavish lifestyle involving expensive dinners, chauffeur-driven cars, and friendships with Little Richard and Johnny Halliday, as well as rumors of an affair with Brigitte Bardot.

Although The Outsiders' records were not distributed in the United States, Tax did go overseas and made friends with notable musicians such as Tim Hardin, Richie Havens, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and attended the Woodstock Festivalmarker. He played with Hardin and Jimi Hendrix at the latter's Electric Ladyland Studio. As he explained in his 1998 autobiography, success came too quick for him, and alcohol and drugs took their toll, and combined with a lack of financial security (he admitted not being good at bookkeeping since his "way of life" had killed too many braincells) the next decades of Tax's life were chaotic.

After recording three albums, The Outsiders broke up in 1969, and Tax, after briefly heading a band called Taxfree, went solo. He was accompanied, in succession, by Bamboule (1972), George Cash (1973), Watermen (1973), and The Mustangs (1976).

The end of his playing career was "Let's Dance" (1977) a small hit in the Netherlands. Afterward, he concerned himself mainly with songwriting and wrote a number of hits for Dutch artists such as Lee Towers ("It's Raining in my Heart") and Champagne ("Valentino," "Oh Me Oh My Goodbye," and "Rock 'n Roll Star," the latter charting at #2 in the Netherlands and #83 in the United States). The 1980s saw his personal decline, starting with the slow death by cancer of his long-time partner Laurie Langenbach, who died in 1984--according to close friend Armand, he never recovered from her death and for the next twenty years lived surrounded by her personal belongings. Efforts to revive a music career appear hampered by personal problems caused by drug addiction and tax problems.

Tax died in 2005 in relative obscurity, bothered by financial and physical problems. He was buried in Amsterdam, after a gathering in Paradisomarker in his honor raised enough money for his funeral. A year later, a benefit concert was held in Paradiso to raise funds for a monument to be placed on his grave. The monument, two guitar necks crossing, continues to draw visitors.

Discography

Solo



With The Outsiders

  • Outsiders (LP, Relax 30007, 1967)
  • Songbook (LP, Teenbeat APLP 102, 1967)
  • C.Q. (LP, Phonogram Records, 236803, 1968)


Bibliography



References




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