|Bert & Frances Rockhuizen (Rockhouse)|
One of the leading independent rock 'n' roll record labels celebrates twenty-five years in the business this year (1998). Rockhouse Records of Holland was founded by Bert and Frances Rockhuizen back in 1973, since when it has earned its place at the forefront of the rock 'n' roll movement via a host of releases featuring both original '50s rockers and, more prominently, 'modern' rocking bands from all over Europe and beyond. Bert and Frances opened their specialist record store 'De Platenboer' in Amsterdam twenty-five years ago. Building a solid reputation as being one of the few stockists of rock 'n' roll, rockabilly and r&b at that time, the store was often visited by touring American performers such as Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Billy Swan.
Enqueries came in from literally all over the world, so eventually a mail order service was set up - a service which still operates very successfully today and is also accessable through the internet [ Click Here ]. Bert had previously worked as a producer for EMI so had a good knowledge of how the record business worked. With this in mind, coupled with the obvious interest shown in rock 'n' roll via the tremendous amount of mail the shop was receiving from around the globe, he decided to set up his own label Rockhouse Records.
The first release was a 45rpm by Vince Tailor, 'Do You Wanna Rock & Roll'. From that point on it was obvious that a lot of people did want to rock 'n' roll, and Rockhouse quickly established itself with ground-breaking LPs from British outfits such as Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers, Matchbox, The Riot Rockers and Little Tina & Flight 56. Unable to attract interest from record companies in the UK, these groups found themselves making records in Holland that became hugely popular on the rock 'n' roll circuit all over Europe. Crazy Cavan's first album, 'Crazy Rhythm', was a milestone in the development of the rock 'n' roll scene when first released in the mid-'70s, containing popular items such as 'She's The One To Blame', 'Wildest Cat In Town' and 'Sadie', it remains in catalogue today, available on both vinyl and compact disc. As the rock 'n' roll scene continued to flourish all over Europe, several visiting original '50s rockers found themselves recording for Rockhouse (with some of the product subsequently being released in the UK by Charly). These included Ray Smith, Carl Mann, Sleepy LaBeef and Eddie Bond. More often than not, these sessions would be based around an appearance at a Rockhouse International Rock 'n' Roll Meeting - an event set up originally in a small hall in Tilburg.
As interest grew then so did the meetings, eventually becoming huge events in Eindhoven. Fans from all over Europe would travel, and still do, to attend a record fair followed by a concert featuring the best European bands together with a variety of '50s originals. Among those who've appeared since the late '70s are Billy Lee Riley, Jack Scott, Dale Hawkins, Freddie Bell, Janis Martin, Huelyn Duvall, Ronnie Hawkins and Sonny Burgess. But it's in the field of promoting new, fresh talent that Rockhouse has excelled. Following the likes of Crazy Cavan, Matchbox, The Flying Saucers and Freddie 'Fingers' Lee came the 'second wave'. The Blue Cats, The Deltas, Dave Phillips & The Hot Rod Gang, Restless etc. All had releases on Rockhouse. In more recent times other British bands with product on the label have included The Avengers, Session '57, Rockin' Lord Lee & The Outlaws and The Little Rock Combo. But it's not just British groups Rockhouse concentrate on. Lately there's been a host of releases from bands all over Europe - acts such as The Tin Star Trio, The Bugaloos, The Struts, The Hal Peters Trio and The Rumble Cats.
A second label, KIX-4-U, was set up around 1984 to issue releases outside of the rock 'n' roll spectrum - psychobilly etc. Via releases by the likes of Batmobile, The Frantic Flintstones and The Tigermen, this too has proved successful. And so it continues. And there's plenty more on the way too! Happy anniversary, Rockhouse!
Source: Now Dig This!
Rockhouse on the Web: