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1972 Famous
Famous is the fifth studio album by Tèxord based rock group bad medecine. It was recorded with the nomads homads and released in 1972. For the recording, the band rent a small theatre that had gone bankrupt and was desolated. With the help of Wouter Lenney as a conductor, all the songs are recorded with an orchestra. As Bello stated in an interview, the band “had grown used to playing with six or more people and we had so many ideas and there is so many instruments so it fitted together.”
The album was an instant success and has since become one of the best-selling albums of all times. Critics praised the record for its minimalistic but striking compositions, and the subtle arrangements. The influences of poetry, free jazz and non-western music created a wider palette of sounds. The album reached number 1 in the charts in over ten countries and the following tour took bad medecine once more over the world.


breathe in
1. [2.07]  nouveau [k/k, lenney] 
2. [5.26]  god will guide me [k/k, n’debe] 
3. [4.24]  don’t say don’t [k/k, n’debe, del haybo] 
4. [8.11]  three of a country [beeldhouwer/beeldhouwer] 
5. [3.49]  you should write/a protest song [k, n’debe/k] 
6. [2.05]  duet [/n’debe, k] 
7. [8.02]  7 [k/k] 
8. [1.58]  an artist’s mind in two minutes [/n’debe, k] 
9. [5.14]  intense city [k/k, n’debe, debakker] 
breathe out
1. [10.57] i love [k/k]
2. [4.16]  spec. ed. [k/k, beeldhouwer, n’debe] 
3. [1.42]  a moment of reflection [k/n’debe, bello] 
4. [5.25]  sleep well [debakker/debakker] 
5. [3.27]  honest [beeldhouwer/beeldhouwer] 
6. [1.38]  abstraction [k, n’debe/] 
7. [4.29]  mantra [n’debe, k/k, n’debe, beeldhouwer]
8. [6.15]  don’t cry [k, n’debe/n’debe, k, beeldhouwer] 
9. [6.50]  be my dream [k/k]


Papa Beer : vocals + guitars
Bob Beeldhouwer : bass
Bello : drums
Matt N’Debe : guitars + vocals + moog synthesizer
Gérardo Debakker : hammond organ, piano, fender rhodes
Ino del Haybo guitars
the nomads homads are
Wouter Lenney (conductor) Rose Kanem (violin) Julia Forem (viola) Luna Gomez (cello) Sophia Fetoutchine (cello) Yasmin Erraghib (violin) Ania Soreda (harp) Guillaume Riccio (xylophone) Jules Beckett (flute) Txema del Orez (oboe) Charles Ronnen (clarinet) James Holland (horn) Wendy Lucerne (french horn) Jonathan Lenney (cornet) Greg Danielson (trombone) Ben Debakker (bassoon) Paolo Allesi (bassoon) Miguel de Santos (tuba) Ives Forem (alt) Eddie Balissat (alt) Hans Sardjoe (sax) Bart Kados (trumpet) Cassius Nelson (trumpet)
Recorded at the Flammen Theatre, Tèxord from July till September 1972
Produced by Wouter Lenney
Engineered by Mick Oe
Mixed at the Mick Studiós, Tèxord in August – Oktober 1972
Released at myzelf music inc. december 1972


In the summer 1971, bad medecine was touring throughout Europe to support their ‘serene desire’ album. Afterwards, they travelled the USA again and this time they were invited for TV appearances. They had won a lot of popularity in Europe as well as the US and the venues they played got bigger and bigger. In the fall, they released ‘7’ as EP whilst on tour in the US and in the winter they played gigs in Japan, Australia, Latin America, Jamaica & Africa.
‘7’ was a major hit throughout the globe. For the tour in February and March in Europe, Gérardo joined the group permanently. Then, in April they went again to tour the US and flew over to Australia. During this tour, bad medecine had invited more musicians to join on stage. Next to Papa Beer, Bobby, Bello & Matt, the most common line up consisted of Gérardo & Haybo as well. The audiences had gotten bigger because to give more volume, more musicians were needed. Furthermore, the band had gotten into the habit of inviting local musicians, especially cellists and trumpeters, to jam on stage.

Writing and composition

After the intense tour and the long journey, bad medecine came back in a slightly changed Tèxord and none of the members had a decent address. They soon found that The Flammen Theatre, that had had no programmation since 1970, was for sale. The band wanted to stay in their hometown for a while and were able to rent the space from May onwards. Rehearsals began in June and the first recordings were done in July.
For the album, Papa Beer and Matt had both written certain compositions that were adapted to an orchestral setting by Wouter Lenney. Two songs on the album are from bobby's hand and one is by Gérardo. During the recording some songs were written, but most of it had been ready before. Normally the band would gather on the stage around noon. As it was not possible for everybody to attend five days a week, the compositions were chosen on the days itself as it was not always necessary for the whole orchestra to be in for every song and therefore only one song is with the completely orchestra, being ‘be my dream’.
During the making of 'famous', the band performed numerous gigs in town, testing out their new songs and inviting the session musicians on stage. Afterwards they went to the theatre to have afterparties, lsd & jams. The outcome can be heard on 'duet' & 'mantra'. As the guys had been touring for over two years and never had a descent house, it happened that they slept in the building as well. Especially Papa Beer & Bobby (who were 19 and 20 at the time) were known to have actually lived in the theatre.
Most lyrics on ‘famous’ were written by Papa Beer, who wrote about his philosophy, love, politics and dreams. Most remarkably is the fact that the opening song is sung in French. ‘nouveau’ is a song that opens with harp and turns into a balad whilst Papa Beer describes the changed society. The travelling had improved Papa Beer’s knowledge of the English language and his approach was a lot more poetic than before, heavily influenced by Matt. Matt himself also wrote the lyrics of three songs, as did Bobby for two and Gérardo for one.


The outer sleeve is a blue and pink cubist painting that’s a collage depicting recent happenings in the world such as the landing on the moon, the hippie counterculture & decolonisation. Inside are photos of the band on stage as a sextet and the information about the recordings. The first LP was enveloped by a pink paper and the second LP with a blue paper. For the CD issue, released in 1991, the first CD was pink and the second blue. The booklet had the same outside sleeve, but consisted of a lot more pictures of the band. The letters BM on the vinyl are purple on a pink background.

Critical perception and legacy

The album was received as the best work of bad medecine so far and the band had lived up to the expectations. It sold over two million copies in the first year and still remains one of the best-selling albums ever. Critics praised the combination of rock music with classical instruments and Papa Beer’s melodies. The album was seen as a fine collage of rock, pop and blues with small parts of experiment without being too artsy. Famous received widespread acclaim from critics and marked the beginning of two years of fame via massively successful tours, hit singles and awards. “Papa Beer is grown up and his lyrics are one of the most poetic ones in contemporary rock music. The quintet, or orchestra, combines the rules of blues with pop and writes their own story with it.”


The tour that followed upon the release of their new album took them from the autumn of 1972 throughout 1973 till the spring of 1974, when they decided to record another album. With a dozen of trucks, they took of and stayed in Antwerp - Bruxelles - Lille - Paris - Lyon - Marseille - Barcelona - Madrid - Lisbon - London - Liverpool - Amsterdam - Cologne - Berlin - Warschau - Praha - Genève - Milan - Rome - Athens - Istanbul within three months. On the top of this tour, the following convoy consisted of over a hundred cars and vans. Not only did they play the regular clubs, but they squatted in parks, most notably Blackheath park in London, Vondelpark in Amsterdam and le Cinquantenaire in Bruxelles.
The summer of 1973 was filled with pop festivals all over the globe and the autumn they toured US again. The same set up for at tour was done in America, where they first ascended the west coast from LA to Seattle, drove to New York and then descended to Miami. The trucks were then sent to Paramaribo but the band secretly played three gigs in Cuba. After Latin America, the trucks got back to Europe & the band played clubs in Asia. Winter was spent in Afrika and Australia to come back to Europe for spring again.


a cufnosed circus

billy navrovski