I arrived in Düsseldorf on the 1st of June 1967.
My Mum brought me here with my few belongings. A simple room in Benrath would be my home. DM 60,–in the summer, DM 75,–in wintertime.
My first job was at Henkel international as a foreign language Secretary.
My neighbor went out every evening, and came back late in the evening. After a week, she asked me if I would like to join her, she would go out in the Altstadt. She told what goes on there.
So I went with her. We walked through Bolkerstrasse, went through the Mertensgasse direction Ratingen Strasse!
I was impressed. The second evening, we walked again towards Ratinger Strasse, but I wanted to stay on the Mertensgasse in a place called „em Pöötzke”, a place with live traditional jazz music.
This was the music that my parents at home in the Netherlands always listed to and sang.
From that moment on, I was there every night. In retrospect, I learned that the musicians were wondering, for which Member of the band I came every night? But I came only for the music!
At some point, I began to make rhythm on a champagne cooler. After a while, a guest gave me a washboard. I bought the thimbles and started to play the washboard.
Soon I could sing 3 songs by heart: Bill Baily, “Basin Street Blues”, and I can’t give you. Whenever these numbers were played, I was allowed to sing along.
There was also a guest who was there every night. It was Manfred Kabey, the founder and owner of the later Dr. JAZZ.
One day he told me: ” with a voice like yours, you should have a Jazz Club of your own, I`ll take care of it. I thought: Yes, Yes, promises, promises.
But in August 1967, he said: you have to come along and decide on the last details. The two of us, we will open in September. The club was called RED GARTER.
It should have sawdust on the floor, and at the door large jute bags with peanuts. The upper floors should be rooms for the musicians, but they should play Dixieland in the “Red Garter”.
This way various bands have been born. It worked well for a period of time, but it had to become a bit more professional. The musicians left the apartments, and Manfred made his office and living quarters on the various floors. But Manfred wanted more. He had great ideas.
He managed a second place on the Flingerstrasse with dance floor, lots of wood and plush called “Badewanne”.
Many well-known bands such as Jochen Brauer, Fats & his Cats, Fats Domino played there.
I went to England to cast bands that would play for a month in Düsseldorf. They were offered a place to stay plus small wages.
The start of the “Red Garter” was very good. A guest gave us the shield : Dr. Jazz – office hours 19.00 till 01.00 o`clock (see the picture) because the guests felt ever so good, just as in the song “Hello Central, give me Dr. Jazz”.
The shield was attached outside the door, and since then it was only:
We go to DOCTOR JAZZ!
At some point, the sign “Red Garter” was taken off. A large black banner with white writing came on the facade, so that you could see from afar, where DR.JAZZ is.
In 1986 I also moved privately in the upper rooms of DR.JAZZ.
Dr. Jazz was a small but fine place.
If they asked me: how many guests fit inside, my answer always was: 1.000 but one after the other.
Every day a different band played at DR. JAZZ. There must have been thousands of bands.
I cannot list all of them.
At this point I would like to thank again all musicians.
Without you all, DR. JAZZ would never have been so great and good!
Dr. JAZZ was my home and my life.