Thoughts on the death of Tony Cabana

Dutch entertainer and entrepreneur Tony Cabana decided to take his own life the day before yesterday. He had been living in Belgium since the eighties and had opened at least two successful clubs and restaurants. His true calling, however, was singing 'schlagers' (schmalzy pop/torch songs) that dealt with the issues of the everyday layman.

Karel Crombecq and I first discovered the man in 1997, when we saw a few of his singles in a long-gone record store in Bruges. Cabana never took the time (or found the necessary backing) to record an album, but he did bless the world with a lot of 2-track discs. Karel and I were intrigued by this mysterious fellow with curly hair and a penchant for strange song titles. Back then, there were no iPhones and only Karel had 56Kbps internet access at home, so naturally we forgot about the man. We even neglected to write down his name and were convinced he was called "Frank Bacana".

The next summer, we stumbled upon a copy of his Dansen In Het Weekend and decided to buy it. The following decade, the man sporadically made the news with info on his Kontich club "Copacabana", his exclusion from the Eurovision preliminaries or a devastating fire that wrecked one of his brasseries. In 2009, we even saw him live, in concert, during the annual fair in Edegem. There wasn't a huge turn-out, but Cabana gave his all. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, even though the music was not our cup of tea.

Although we can't claim that he's our favourite artist of all time, we had a soft spot for this ever charming and enthusiastic self-made Dutchman. I would have loved to interview him. May his singles be collected on an album sooner or later. Rest in peace, Mr. Cabana.

Julian De Backer, 24 December 2012