Complete bio of Renée

Until 1976

As a toddler Anja Exterkate (Renée) sang along with every tune that was played on the radio. By the age of twelve she was convinced she had the most unpleasant voice anyone could imagine. She had come to this conclusion because of the nasty remarks her family members made. They would have liked to wring her neck as there wasn’t a moment they could listen to the radio without her singing along. As an adolescent she started to realize that it must have been highly irritating not to be able to listen to your favourite song without your baby sister screaming along! After ridiculing herself as a singer in a cabaret performance, she was invited to join a jazz band in 1975.


Anja joined the band Toby Collar. She was studying Dutch and English, living in lodgings and had to get by on a grant. Singing seemed to her an enjoyable way to earn some additional income. All would turn out quite differently from what she expected.From the moment René Nodelijk (the bandleader) and Anja met, they got along great. René had been composing songs for years and Anja had been writing poems from when she was 15. That’s how they ended up writing songs together.


René decided to change the name of the band to Renée and the Alligators and go back to good old rock and roll. But this time around they would focus on vocals and play less instrumental music. Renée became Anja’s stage name. Back then this seemed a brilliant idea. The second “e” added at the end of the name changed it into a girl’s name and suggested a female singer. It would also attract the attention of the fans of the sixties, as they would recognize the name of the once so popular rock and roll band René and his Alligators. Little did René and Renée realise that it would cause a lot of confusion. There were heated discussions about which of the two was Renée: the guitar player or the singer.


In 1978 the name of the band was changed to simply Renée at the request of the record company CNR. Frits Hirschland was recruited as the manager of the band. With him they experienced many hilarious moments. He blocked the main entrance of the Musikladen studio with two super-expensive Mercedes, chauffeurs included, in order to prevent top of the bill artists making their exit with the grandeur they were accustomed to. He walked on tables in the most expensive restaurants, literally stood on his head on the bar of the lounge in the famous Parkhotel in Bremen and walked into a discotheque covered in toilet paper; in short the guy was ingeniously crazy and knew how to get media attention! With the release of the single ‘Sweet nothin’s’ from the debut album Renée they got the attention of the Dutch television and radio stations. The single turned out to be a hit and stayed in the charts for over two months. They were invited to Musikladen, a popular German TV music programme and Dolle Dinsdag, a popular TV show in Belgium. They were also quite successful in countries like Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Bootlegs were released in Indonesia, Poland and the GDR. The success of the album proved that rock and roll was still alive and kicking. René and Renée decided to tie the knot and got married in November.


The rock and roll classic ‘A whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on’ was released in January. The single was presented at the Midem in Cannes where it was well received. In the Netherlands however DJs refused to play the record. In spite of this the single entered the charts and reached the 34th place. Again they were invited to Musikladen, which always guaranteed a boost in sales. So in Germany the single did quite well. Frits Hirschland introduced Bert Ruiter (bass Earth and Fire) to René Nodelijk and Renée. René and Renée were very pleased that Bert Ruiter would join them as their producer. ‘If you wanna be a Rock and Roller’ was Bert Ruiter’s first Renée production.


At the beginning of this year the single ‘If you wanna be a Rock and Roller’ was released. Again the single was better received abroad than in the Netherlands. The Dutch DJs reviewed the single as too commercial. In Germany it was well received, and yes, the band was invited to Musikladen for a third time. They even released a 12 inch version of the song. Again bootlegs were released this time notonly in Indonesia and the USSR, but also in Mexico as well as Central and South America. Two albums were released this year: Ready to Rock and Roll a re-release of the album ‘Renée’ (1978) and ‘Reaching for the sky’. With the latter the band changed from rock and roll to pop music. From that moment on Renée was accepted as a full-fledged band. At the end of this year Renée received the award of ‘most promising artist’. ‘Jimmy’ was the first track from the album ‘Reaching for the sky’ to be released. The reviews were laudatory and the single stayed in the charts for a month and a half, but sadly enough didn’t reach very high. The next track to be released was ‘Come closer’. This record reached the 3rd place on the play list of the Dutch radio stations. Over 45,000 copies were sold, which is quite a lot for a small country like the Netherlands. In the Benelux top 50 it ranked 19th place.


The 3rd track to be released was ‘Sad man’ in January 1981. It entered the charts and was doing quite well. This single was only promoted for three weeks due to the very expensive project ‘Stars on 45’ that was released by the record company at the same time. They had hoped the single would do well on its own, but this turned out not to be so. Against all odds over 10,000 copies were still sold. In Germany a singer called Elke Best recorded the song in German with the title ‘Ein Kind’. The 4th and last track from the album to be released was ‘Stranded lady’. But this single got no media attention at all. Overall the album ‘Reaching for the sky’ was well received and quite successful. Renée was acknowledged to be one of the reputable bands of the Netherlands. In England the album was released onAloi Records because they were very enthusiastic about the sound and the songs. In the spring of 1981 the band was invited to do a television show in East Berlin in the Palast der Republik in the GDR. This trip made a deep impression on Renée. The atmosphere was oppressive. 24 hours a day they were accompanied by so called interpreters even though all the band members could manage quite well in German. The people they spoke to avoided all topics that even hinted of the GDR politics. You could sense people’s fear and distrust. This experience made her well aware of how precious freedom of speech is. 1982 Just before the release of the single ‘High time he went’ the band broke up. René Nodelijk, who’d been a bandleader for so many years, didn’t feel up to yet again finding and training new musicians. So Renée was more or less forced to perform with a tape, hoping her husband René would soon get fed up with acting as her sound engineer. She was convinced he would change his mind, so she therefore took a stand-in band with her for every television show she was invited to. But René wouldn’t budge because he wanted to focus on composing. ‘High time he went’ turned out to be a smash hit both in the Netherlands and abroad. The highest position it reached was 2nd in the charts of Norway. The album ‘The future none can see’ was released in almost all of Europe. Again the reviews were laudatory and for weeks it stayed in the charts of best sold albums. The next songs to be released were ‘You’re a liar’ and ‘Seventeen’. There was quite a difference of opinion about the single ‘You’re a liar’. Quite a few of the DJs thought this to be a wrong choice. It wasn’t a typical Renée song and had too much discoinfluence. Veronica, a Dutch commercial broadcast company, liked the song and invited Renée to their then immensely popular show ‘Nederland Muziekland’. The national broadcast and radio stations decided not to promote the single and it therefore lived a short life. The single did well in the French-speaking part of Belgium and the north of France and Renée was invited to a Walloon television show. ‘Seventeen’ (Renée’s favourite), declared to be the best successor to ‘High time he went’ by one of the leading DJs of the Netherlands at that time, didn’t stand a chance because of all the fuss. In October Renée was invited to Wroclaw in Poland to do a television show. It was a 30 minutes special about the album ‘The future none can see’.


The album ‘Sometimes you cry’ was released. This album includes four songs of the album ‘Reaching for the sky’, four songs of the album ‘The future none can see’ and four new songs. From this album two songs were released: ‘Sometimes you cry’ and ‘Give me a break’. ‘Sometimes you cry’ was declared the single of the week by a national radio station. But both singles didn’t really stand a chance because no money was invested in promoting them. At this time the record companies were in complete panic. Their profits dropped dramatically because of the invention of the cassette. (This malaise is comparable to that caused by the copying and downloading of CDs.) So they decided to no longer invest money in Dutch artists, the Netherlands being too small a country to be able to sell enough copies to be profitable. As a result contracts with lots of artists (Renée included) weren’t renewed.


In search of a company who was willing to take risks, Renée ended up with a company called Sky Telstar. They promised to provide a studio with top of the bill engineers and musicians. In spite of the all the promises it turned out to be a low-budget reproduction of demos and René Nodelijk, wasn’t allowed to invite the musicians he had in mind. He ended up being the producer as well as ‘multi-musician’, because all instruments to be heard on the single ‘Take some pills’ were played by him. The single was released in September, but was hardly promoted.


In 1985 Cor van der Beek † (drummer Shockin Blue) called. He’d been brainstorming with Fred Severin (base Daddy’s Act) how to restart Renée and the Alligators. Their enthusiasm rubbed off on René and he was willing to give it a try. As a result the band has gigs all over the Netherlands as well as every now and again abroad. A night spent with Renée and the Alligators promises to be a night of reminiscing about petticoats and greased forelocks. A night with Renée on the other hand, not only brings back the atmosphere of the eighties with a touch of rock and roll but also has both feet in the here and now.

Complete bio of Renée and the Alligators


In 1958 René Nodelijk started one of the first ever Dutch rock n’ roll bands; they were called Rockin’ Sensation Boys. That same year he came third in a national Elvis Presley competition. René was part of the group until September 1959, when he and the band members split up due to differences of opinion. The band members claimed the name Rockin’ Sensation Boys and René decided to set up The Alligators – a name inspired by the famous hit ‘See You Later Alligator’ from Bill Haley and his Comets. The band was made up of René Nodelijk as singer/guitarist, Hans Emmerik as guitarist, Ton Schattelijn on piano and clarinet (all three came from the Dutch Royal Academy for Music) and Richard van der Kraats on drums. Two weeks after coming together the band won a national talent show in Vlaardingen with their debut performance. On the initiative of the organizer, during their second performance The Alligators appeared as René and his Alligators.


At the beginning of 1960 Hans Emmerik and Ton Schattelijn were replaced by rhythm guitarist Ton van de Graaf and bass player Pim Veeren. In the summer René made the first recording for CNR under the name of René and his Alligators. René played guitar and a group of studio musicians together with a whole string section of an orchestra provided the rest of the music. The vocals of René were recorded separately in a Rotterdam church in order to get theright reverberation effect. The result was the first single with the numbers ‘So Mad’ and ‘Knocking on Your Window’.


After touring Germany in the winter months of 1960/1961, René and his Alligators returned to Holland, where the next change in the band formation took place: bass player Pim Veeren was replaced by Ruud Schoonewelle. They then began to focus on instrumental music a la The Ventures. This successful trend also went down well with the general public and the band became popular guests on the Hague scene. It was Eddy W. van Hemert who encouraged them to record a demo and via his contacts the enthusiastic rockers from The Hague came in contact with Phonogram record company. Van Hemert acted as their manager during the recording of their first record in Hilversum. Four numbers were recorded in one afternoon session: ‘Alligator’s dance’, ‘Theme from Limelight’, ‘Gispy Rock’ and ‘My Happiness’. ‘Alligator’s Dance’ was composed and arranged by René. ‘Theme from Limelight’ (a composition of Charlie Chaplin), ‘Gipsy Rock’ (traditional) and ‘My Happiness’ (a hit from Connie Francis) were also arranged by René. In the autumn of 1961 the two singles and the EP were quickly released one after the other and were positively received by both the public and the music press.


The rocking-foursome slowly began to win over a national audience. In May 1962, after a performance in a musical show organized by the teenager magazine Teenagercall, they dived back into the studio to record the third and fourth singles. René made a musical version of ‘Heisser Sand’, which had been a big hit in Germany. ‘Granada’ was the number on the B-side. Their fourth single was to become the most successful. The toppers ‘Guitar Boogie’ and ‘In the Mood’, Glenn Miller’s universally known hit, guaranteed high sales figures. In September the band worked together with The Telstars, the duet made up of Wim Goossen and Piet Oomen. For this occasion drummer Richard van der Kraats was replaced by Wim Zech, one of René’s bass guitar students. Unfortunately for Richard Wim’s drumming talents were so popular with the band members that Wim was offered a permanent place in the band. ‘Sealed with a Kiss’ and ‘True Love’ were recorded with The Telstars. At the end of 1962 René and his Alligators (at the request of the record company) recorded a cover of the number ‘Telstar’, the world hit from The Tornados, with ‘Rinky Dink’ as the B-side, also a cover. Both numbers appeared on a French EP.


This year featured performances at the Zuiderpark roller-skating rink, the Circus theater in Scheveningen, Yvonne Bar, Monroe Bar and the regular Monday evenings in Piccadilly (the present Dutch government’s Lower House). During several studio sessions the repertoire was further extended with two new numbers: ‘Two Guitars’, demonstrating the band’s musical creativity with a classical introduction followed by a rocking guitar virtuosity; and the ‘La Comparsa’, which could be heard on a version of ‘ZZ en de Maskers’ a couple of years later. ‘Dansevise’ and ‘Bonanza’ were also recorded. The latter is the cover of a well-known television series being broadcast at that time. It was obvious inthe number ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ that the band had made the right choice with drummer Wim Zech; his drum solo was something else! The number ‘Black Swan’ is a beautiful arrangement of Tchaikowsky’s ‘Swan lake’. Before the end of the year Ruud Schoonewelle was forced to leave the band as he had to do his military service. He was replaced by Peter la Haye. With this formation the band went on to record several numbers including ‘Wham’, ‘Bust Out’, ‘Counter Point’ and ‘Let’s Do the Slop’.


1964 was quite a turbulent year for the band with lots of changes. The year began with the Alligator’s collaboration on the album ‘5 seconden van Woef’, recording the number ‘The Alligator Beat’. They also provided accompaniment for the song ‘De kleinste’ (In ’t groen dal, ’t kleine dal) by The Fouryos.Peter la Hay was replaced by André Serban and Ton de Graaf by Hans Vermeulen, who had been having lessons from René for four years. At the end of the year Ed Bekking replaced Hans Vermeulen and Ruud Schoonewelle returned as bass player. Wim Zech passed the drum sticks on to Louis Blonk.


In 1965 it was time for another approach. René decided to sing his compositions himself. The beat songs released that year ‘She Broke My Heart’ and ‘I Can Wait’ were also released in England. Unfortunately, however, the sales figures were pretty disappointing. Two other numbers that were recorded in this period ‘Quite a Lot of Things Can Happen’ and ‘Laughin’ in the Rain’ remained on the shelf. It was not to be until 1999 that they finally appeared on an album. Early in 1967 the band released another single, though under the name The Alligators. The numbers ‘I Feel like crying’ and ‘I’m On the Run’, written by René, made it clear that first and foremost René is a musician, heart and soul: one who is not afraid of trying something new.


There have been many changes between 1968 and the present day. Frank Bianchi (vocals and keyboards) joined in 1967 and the band’s name was changed to Toby Collar (referring to the English term for a beer’s head; the name Dimples was also very briefly considered). Late 1968 the first single appeared under the name of Toby Collar on the Polydor label: ‘Tallahassee Lassie’/ ‘Two Girls Are Waiting’. This single gave its listeners a blast from the past: the glory years of rock n’ roll in 1959, dressed in – for that time – a modern jacket. In 1969 Bea Willemstein (René’s wife at that time) joined the band as a singer, and two years later Frank Bianchi’s girlfriend Corry de Jager also joined as a singer. Then René’s brother Frank Nodelijk was temporarily added to the band as a singer/ keyboard player. Under the name of Dutch Garden the members of Toby Collar released the single ‘Dirty Poor Man’/ ‘It’s Better’ on the Negram label in 1970. Under their own name the single ‘Woke Up Too Slow’/ ‘Mary’s Back Again’ was released. In the ‘70s Toby Collar became known as a Top 40 band, performing at many company functions and weddings. In 1975 the single ‘Italy’/ ‘I Feel Good’ was released, but this wasn’t given much airplay by the DJs at that time either. In November 1976 after a number of changes Renée (Anja Exterkate) joined Toby Collar, which, apart fromRené, was then made up of drummer John Meijer, keyboard player Peter Bernet and bass player Ton van der Meer. A year later, after an inspiring talk with Bert Schouten (René’s producer from the very beginning), René decided to breathe new life into the rock ‘n roll, and the band was renamed Renée and the Alligators. Another year later, on the advice of the record company CNR, the name was shortened to Renée. Since 1985, on the initiative of drummer Cor van der Beek † (Shocking Blue) and Fred Severin (Daddy’s Act), the band has been performing again under the name of Renée and the Alligators.

The band

Renée (Anja Nodelijk)

As a toddler Anja Exterkate (Renée) sang along with every tune that was played on the radio. By the age of twelve she was convinced she had the most unpleasant voice anyone could imagine. She had come to this conclusion because of the nasty remarks her family members made. They would have liked to wring her neck as there wasn’t a moment they could listen to the radio without her singing along. As an adolescent she started to realize that it must have been highly irritating not to be able to listen to your favourite song without your baby sister screaming along! After ridiculing herself as a singer in a cabaret performance, she was inviter to join a jazz band in 1975.

At the end of 1976 she decided to throw herself to the wolves and joined the band Toby Collar. At the time she was studying English and Dutch, living in lodgings and had a grant to get by on to pay for her study and the rent. So this job seemed to her a perfect way to earn some additional income and have fun at the same time. All would turn out quite differently from what she imagined. A year later she was recording her first album and at the request of the record company Renée became her stage name.

The release of the single Sweet Nothin’s in 1978 turned her world upside down. Bingo! The doors of the glitter and glamour world slid open. She flew to TV shows abroad in private jets, slept in the most expensive hotels, had chauffeurs to drive her around, dined in the most famous restaurants and was invited to the USSR. During TV shows she met with quite a lot of famous pop stars among which Tina Turner, 10 CC, Gloria Gaynor and Bonnie Tyler. Of course she also met with the Dutch crème de la crème. In 1980 she received the award of most promising artist. You would think that as a result she must have become quite self-confident. On the contrary, she became more and more insecure. To her entering the world of the rich and the fame was like a true culture shock. The first time people asked for her autograph, she was convinced they were making fun of her. The more attention she got, the less self-confidence she had, because she didn’t know what to believe.

In the end everything turned out right, for decades later she still really enjoys singing and getting on stage. In retrospect she looks back in amazement at everything she encountered during those turbulent years.

René Nodelijk

Als 12-jarige jongen kreeg René Nodelijk van zijn moeder zijn eerste gitaar en op zijn dertiende had hij zijn eerste solo-optreden in de Haagsche Dierentuin. Na twee jaar gitaarlessen te hebben gevolgd, kon met zekerheid worden vastgesteld dat hij veel meer in zijn mars had. Hij werd zonder enig probleem toegelaten tot het Koninklijk Conservatorium te Den Haag, waar hij als tweede instrument de viool koos. Na Bill Haley and his Comets met Rock Around The Clock op de radio gehoord te hebben, was hij meteen verkocht en de vertolking van Tutti Frutti eerst door Little Richard en daarna door Elvis Presley maakte van hem een gepassioneerde rock and roller.

Op zijn vijftiende richtte hij zijn eerste bandje op met als naam The Beach Boys, omdat ze elkaar altijd op het strand ontmoetten. Een jaar later veranderde hij de naam in The Rockin’ Sensation Boys en begeleid door deze band werd hij derde bij de nationale Elvisverkiezing. Opnames hiervan werden uitgezonden in het Polygoon journaal en René bleef apetrots de hele dag in de bioscoop zitten om de opnames keer op keer te kunnen bewonderen.

In zijn vrije tijd was hij begonnen met gitaarlessen te geven en later zou blijken dat heel wat bekend geworden muzikanten bij hem op les zijn geweest, waaronder leden van de Golden Earring, de Sandy Coast, de Jumping Jewels en de Motions.

Na onenigheid met de meerderheid van de Rocking Sensation Boys, koos een teleurgestelde René eieren voor zijn geld. Hij besloot een nieuwe band te formeren onder de naam René and his Alligators. De Ventures en Indo bands als de Roomrockers en de Bell Boys inspireerden hem, met als resultaat dat hij een heel eigen stijl ontwikkelde waarin de invloeden van zowel de rock and roll uit de States als de Indo rock te herkennen waren. Het verhaal dat René onder de ruisende palmen geboren zou zijn, is waarschijnlijk daardoor de ronde gaan doen.

Het was in die tijd nogal bijzonder dat een gitarist van het conservatorium zich begaf op het pad van de ‘verderfelijke’ rock and roll. Zijn imponerende kuif, waar menig leeftijdgenoot jaloers op was, werd zijn handelskenmerk. Aandacht van de media was er te over voor deze opvallende, klassiek geschoolde gitarist, die daarnaast ook nog viool speelde. De contracten voor plaatopnames kwamen binnen en het duurde niet lang of de band scoorde de ene na de andere hit met als klap op de vuurpijl Guitar Boogie/In The Mood. Binnen de kortste keren hadden ze meer optredens dan ze aankonden. Ook landen als Duitsland en België raakten geïnteresseerd.

Hij vertrok naar Duitsland, maar na daar een half jaar getoerd te hebben was René het nachtclubleven zat en keerde hij terug naar Nederland.Vijf jaar later besloot hij het over een andere boeg te gooien. Hij richtte zich meer en meer op popmuziek en om het stempel van rock and roll band kwijt te raken, veranderde hij de naam van de band in Toby Collar en werd de band een paar jaar later aangevuld met twee zangeressen. Optredens te over en er werden drie singles uitgebracht, maar een echte doorbraak bleef helaas uit.

Het grote succes kwam na de toetreding van Anja Exterkate als zangeres. Het klikte onmiddellijk tussen haar en René en niet alleen op het muzikale vlak. Twee jaar later trouwden ze en samen staan ze nog steeds met veel enthousiasme op de bühne als Renée and the Alligators of simpelweg Renée.

Fred Severin

Freddy ‘Big Boom Bass’ Severin ontdekte op 14 jarige leeftijd de akoestische gitaar. Dit was in de rock ’n roll, suikerspin, coca cola periode van de begin jaren zestig. Hij besloot gitaarles te nemen en kwam terecht bij Luut Buijsman, gitarist van de fameuze Kilama Hawaïns.
Na twee jaar gitaarles te hebben gevolgd, begon hij zich te interesseren voor de basgitaar en al snel maakte hij zich de rock ’n roll stijl eigen door veel te luisteren naar The Ventures en The Shadows.

In 1962 richtte hij samen met nog enkele schoolvrienden zijn eerste band The Rocking Thunders op. Met hun wekelijkse optredens door heel Nederland, maar vooral ook in het Rotterdamse, wisten ze menig jong meisjeshart sneller te doen kloppen. Na veel muzikale inspanning wonnen zij in 1964 de landelijk georganiseerde Radio Veronica talentenjacht.

In 1968 speelde hij in de toenmalige bekende Nederlandse rock ‘n roll formatie Roek Williams and the Fighting Cats, met als collega’s Will Luikinga op sax en Pierre van de Linden (Focus) op de drums. Daddy’s Act, die met de hit Eight Days a Week hoog in de hitparade stond, zocht in 1969 voor een klein half jaar een vervanger voor Lanny Bouman en vond in Fred de perfecte plaatsvervanger.

Vanaf 1970 hing hij voor ongeveer 6 jaar zijn basgitaar aan de wilgen, maar zijn vingers jeukten om de bassnaren weer aan te raken. Hij stortte zich vervolgens 5 jaar lang op soulmuziek. Deze swingende muziek bracht hem ertoe zich te verdiepen in de jazz-standards, de baarmoeder van de rock ’n roll en de soul.

In 1985 werd hij gebeld door Cor van der Beek drummer van Shocking Blue (Venus) om samen met Robbie van Leeuwen en Mariska Veres de formatie nieuw leven in te blazen. Repetities volgden maar vanwege organisatorische problemen kwam Shocking Blue helaas dit keer niet van de grond.

In 1986-2000 kwam hij terecht bij de groep Renee and the Alligators. Met deze groep toerde hij diverse malen in het voorprogramma van ‘The Fortunes’, ‘The Marmelade’, ‘Swinging Blue Jeans’, ‘The Rubettes’, ‘Dave Berry’, ‘Dave Dee, Dozy, Bicky, Mick and Tich’, ‘The Sweet’ en verving hij de bassist van ‘The Love Affair’ (Everlasting Love) voor een concert in Brabant.

In 1998 begeleidde hij op bas diverse optredens van Andy Tielman (Tielman Brothers), die eind jaren vijftig een groot inspirator was van menige rock ’n roll groep.

In 2000 besloot hij het Alligatornest te verlaten en zijn ‘big boom bass’ kunsten te vertonen in de band Magic Dave and the Wheelers. Na vier jaar won zijn heimwee naar Renée and the Alligators het echter van zijn liefde voor de Wheelers en keerde hij terug op zijn oude vertrouwde honk.

Arie Nijkerk

Info volgt z.s.m.

Dick Florijn

Info volgt z.s.m.