Ramses Shaffy Bookmark and Share


29 August 1933 - 1 december 2009

Shaffy was born in Paris, in the suburb Neuilly-sur-Seine. His father was an Egyptian diplomat, his mother was a Polish duchess from Russian descent. He grew up with her in Cannes. When she was infected with tuberculoses, Shaffy was sent to an aunt in Utrecht. Eventually, he ended up in a foster family in Leiden.

He did not finish high school, but he was accepted at the Amsterdam school of theatre arts in 1952. In 1955, he made his debut with the Nederlandse Comedie. Together with his life partner Joop Admiraal he went to Rome in 1960, hoping to find a job as a film actor. They eventually returned without success. In 1964, Shaffy founded the theatre group Shaffy Chantant, which led to his first collaborations with Liesbeth List. He also worked together with Dutch pianist Louis van Dijk. Others, including Thijs van Leer, were members of the group for short periods of time. Together with Liesbeth List, he recorded the classic song 'Pastorale'.

Shaffy keeps on releasing albums in the seventies. He has hits with songs like 'Zing, vecht, huil, bid, lach, werk en bewonder' (Sing, fight, cry, pray, laugh, work and admire), 'We zullen doorgaan' (We will go on), 'Sammy' and 'Laat me' (Leave me be). His hit 'Wij zullen doorgaan' was parodied by comedian André van Duin in 1975.

In the 1980s, Shaffy returned to the stage and the set as an actor. He played Don Quixote in the musical 'De man van La Mancha' (The man from La Mancha) in 1993. Pieter Fleury made a documentary about Shaffy in 2002, titled 'Ramses'. It won a Golden Calf, the award of the Netherlands Film Festival. The film shows Shaffy's life as a somewhat confused, shaky old man in a rest home in Amsterdam. Many years of extensive alcohol abuse are the main cause of his deteriorated condition. Some say he suffers from Korsakoff's syndrome, but this was never diagnosed by the doctors.

Shaffy's condition slightly improved in the years following the film. His memory improved and he sometimes makes public appearances again. In the fall of 2005 he re-recorded his 1978 hit song Laat me, together with Liesbeth List and the band Alderliefste, which became a minor hit. His entire catalogue was released in the same year as a reasonable priced box set. In 2009 his health quickly deteriorated being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. In combination with his epilepsy attacks and a pneumonia this caused his death on the 1st december of 2009.

On the web:

- Ramses' website: http://www.shaffy.nl

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What do we think:

DB: Highly regarded by the Dutch art scene. Even at his last state of mind they still put him on a pedastle and invite him to parties just to be seen with him. He even was dragged to a tribute concert two days prior to he death. That can't be healthy. The man hadn't produced a reasonable piece of work in ages but obviously they don't mind as long as they can bask in his radiance, singer Liesbeth List up front. Poor Ramses, he made some beautifully orchestrated albums, wrote some very poetic lyrics but lived the live he sang about. In the end that life wasn't very healthy. Gapped the bridge between Dutch kleinkunst and French chanson but ended up beneath it eventually.



♪♪♪ - Ramses II - 1966

♪♪♪♪ - Zonder bagage - 1971

♪♪♪- Wij zullen doorgaan - 1972

Further listening: - Shaffy Chantant - 1966; - Shaffy Chantate - 1967; - Sunset Sunkiss (with Focus) - 1970 - We leven nog - 1975; - Samen (with Liesbeth List) - 1976 ; - Ramses en Liesbeth live - 1977; - Dag en nacht - 1978; - Live - 1980; - Sterven van geluk - 1988; - Alleen als je me verleidt - 1994; - Een bloemenkrans en een nachtgewaad (rareties and outtakes as part of the cd-box - Laat mijn liedjes nu maar zwerven)- 2005

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪= best to be avoided


  EUROPOPMUSIC - Netherlands