Harry Muskee introduced the blues to a country of clogs and windmills

POSTED: 09/28/11 12:12 PM

By Hilbert Haar / When I brought the Cuby and the Blizzards blues album Groeten uit Grollo to my music class in secondary school in the spring of 1967 my classmates were not impressed. They thought with just one exception (apart from myself) that the music the Blizzards made was awful. Now, almost 45 years later, this very album is a collector’s item, and the music is recognized as a landmark in the history of Dutch blues.

All this came easily to mind when I read that Harry Muskee, the founder of the band, had died last Monday at the age of 70; he suffered from cancer.

Cuby and the Blizzards introduced a country of clogs and windmills to the blues of John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Eddie Boyd and Big Joe Williams. Muskee, keyboard player Herman Brood (who committed suicide on July 11, 2001, by jumping from the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel) and the legendary guitar player Eelco Gelling formed the backbone of the band. Cuby became Muskee’s nickname, but in fact it was the name of his neighbor’s dog.

Groeten uit Grollo defines the band for posterity. Somebody will know someday, a ballad written by Muskee and Gelling, Through the Windows of my Eyes, and the Muskee/Brood production Another day Another Road stand out on the album.

The album cover depicts a dreamy landscape with heather, sheep and an old farm barn. It has a highly hippie-like aura, though Muskee himself had nothing with hippies. “I am much too much down to earth for that,” he once said.

Muskee had a farm in Grollo, a village in the province of Drenthe. That’s where the musicians worked and sometimes also lived. Simon Vinkenoog, Boudewijn de Groot and Johnny the Selfkicker were regular visitors up north. Van Morrison also once visited Muskee in Grollo.

Cuby and the Blizzards got everybody’s attention after the Christian TV-station NCRV boycotted their single LSD (Got a Million Dollar).

In the seventies the band dissolved and Muskee continued his career with the Harry Muskee Band, later renamed ad the Muskee Gang, then Muskee and finally Cuby + Blizzards. In 2009 he released his last CD, Cats Lost.

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