Wally Tax

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Wally Tax
Wally Tax (1969).jpg
Wally Tax in 1969
Background information
Birth nameWladimir Tax
Born14 February 1948
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died10 April 2005 (aged 57)
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Instruments guitar, harmonica
Years active1959–2001
Associated acts The Outsiders, Tax Free

Wladimir "Wally" Tax (Dutch pronunciation: [ʋlaːdimir ʋɑli tɑks] ; 14 February 1948 – 10 April 2005) was a Dutch singer and songwriter. He was founder and frontman of the Nederbeat group The Outsiders (1959–1969) and the rock group Tax Free (1969–1971).

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands, informally Holland for the original County of Holland, is a country in Northwestern Europe with some overseas territories in the Caribbean. In Europe, it consists of 12 provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with those countries and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba—it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian. In the northern parts of the country, Low German is also spoken.

Nederbeat was the Dutch rock boom of mid-1960s influenced by British beat groups, led by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and, much like British freakbeat, it is essentially the Dutch counterpart to American garage rock.

The Outsiders (Dutch band) Dutch band from Amsterdam

The Outsiders were a Dutch band from Amsterdam. Their period of greatest popularity in the Netherlands was from 1965–67, but they released records until 1969. In recent years their legacy has extended beyond the Netherlands, and the group is today recognized as a distinctive exemplars of the garage rock genre.


After commercial and artistic success with The Outsiders in the late 1960s, he had a brief solo career in the 1970s, and then was a successful songwriter, producing a number of hit songs for Dutch artists. He faded into obscurity in the 1980s; after his death in 2005 two benefit concerts in Amsterdam proved his lasting popularity and influence.

Early life

Wladimir Tax was born on 14 February 1948 in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. His Dutch father and his Russian Romani mother had met in a concentration camp during World War II. He grew up in Amsterdam and learned English at an early age from contacts with American sailors, for whom he acted as a pimp. [1]

Amsterdam Capital of the Netherlands

Amsterdam is the capital and most populous city of the Netherlands, with a population of 866,737 within the city proper, 1,380,872 in the urban area, and 2,410,960 in the metropolitan area. Amsterdam is in the province of North Holland. Amsterdam is colloquially referred to as the "Venice of the North" due to its large number of canals which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Romani people Ethnic group living mostly in Europe and the Americas

The Romani, colloquially known as Roma, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, traditionally itinerant, living mostly in Europe and the Americas and originating from the northern Indian subcontinent, from the Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab regions of modern-day India.

Music career

The Outsiders

In 1959, at age 11, he was one of the founding members of the beat band The Outsiders. [2] The band sang English lyrics, with Tax as the main songwriter; [3] Tax sang and played guitar and harmonica. Even while playing with The Outsiders, Tax recorded a solo album (with a symphonic orchestra), Love-In. [1]

Harmonica free reed wind instrument

The harmonica, also known as a French harp or mouth organ, is a free reed wind instrument used worldwide in many musical genres, notably in blues, American folk music, classical music, jazz, country, rock. There are many types of harmonica, including diatonic, chromatic, tremolo, octave, orchestral, and bass versions. A harmonica is played by using the mouth to direct air into or out of one or more holes along a mouthpiece. Behind each hole is a chamber containing at least one reed. A harmonica reed is a flat elongated spring typically made of brass, stainless steel, or bronze, which is secured at one end over a slot that serves as an airway. When the free end is made to vibrate by the player's air, it alternately blocks and unblocks the airway to produce sound.

Tax performing for TV in 1968 Fenklup - Wally Tax 1.png
Tax performing for TV in 1968

The Outsiders reached a measure of success, opening up for The Rolling Stones in 1966 and scoring a number of hits in the Netherlands. [1] They were one of the best-known bands of the Nederbeat movement — when they signed with Phonogram Records in 1968, Billboard reported on it. [4] Leading what Billboard called "the leading Dutch beat group," Tax had a high-profile—he was reported to have the longest hair in the country, [5] and lived a lavish lifestyle involving expensive dinners, chauffeur-driven cars, and friendships with Little Richard and Johnny Hallyday, as well as rumors of an affair with Brigitte Bardot. [6]

The Rolling Stones English rock band

The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first stable line-up consisted of bandleader Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ian Stewart (piano). Stewart was removed from the official line-up in 1963 but continued to work with the band as a contracted musician until his death in 1985. The band's primary songwriters, Jagger and Richards, assumed leadership after Andrew Loog Oldham became the group's manager. Jones left the band less than a month before his death in 1969, having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, who remained until 1974. After Taylor left the band, Ronnie Wood took his place in 1975 and continues on guitar in tandem with Richards. Since Wyman's departure in 1993, Darryl Jones has served as touring bassist. The Stones have not had an official keyboardist since 1963, but have employed several musicians in that role, including Jack Nitzsche (1965–1971), Nicky Hopkins (1967–1982), Billy Preston (1971–1981), Ian McLagan (1978–1981), and Chuck Leavell (1982–present).

<i>Billboard</i> (magazine) American music magazine

Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, a division of Eldridge Industries. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.

Little Richard American pianist, singer and songwriter

Richard Wayne Penniman, known as Little Richard, is an American musician, singer and songwriter.

Although The Outsiders' records were not distributed in the United States, Tax did go overseas and made friends with notable musicians such as Tim Hardin, Richie Havens, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and attended the Woodstock Festival. He played with Hardin and Jimi Hendrix at the latter's Electric Ladyland Studio. [1] As he explained in his 1998 autobiography, success came too quick for him, and alcohol and drugs took their toll, and combined with a lack of financial security (he admitted not being good at bookkeeping since his "way of life" had killed too many brain cells) the next decades of Tax's life were chaotic. [6]

Tim Hardin American musician

James Timothy Hardin was an American folk musician and composer. He wrote the Top 40 hit "If I Were a Carpenter", covered by, among others, Bobby Darin, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, The Four Tops, Robert Plant, Small Faces, Johnny Rivers, and Bert Jansch; his song "Reason to Believe" has also been covered by many artists, notably Rod Stewart, Neil Young, and The Carpenters. Hardin is also known for his own recording career.

Richie Havens American singer-songwriter and guitarist

Richard Pierce "Richie" Havens was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. His music encompassed elements of folk, soul, and rhythm and blues. He had an intense and rhythmic guitar style, and played soulful covers of pop and folk songs. He was the opening act at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young American and British music supergroup

Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN) were a vocal folk rock supergroup made up of American singer-songwriters David Crosby and Stephen Stills and English singer-songwriter Graham Nash. They are also known as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY) when joined by Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young, who is an occasional fourth member. They are noted for their intricate vocal harmonies, often tumultuous interpersonal relationships, political activism, and lasting influence on American music and culture. Crosby, Stills & Nash were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and all three members were also inducted for their work in other groups. Neil Young has also been inducted as a solo artist and as a member of Buffalo Springfield. They have not made a group studio album since the 20th Century, and are inactive as of 2019. Whether or not this break is permanent remains to be seen, as the group has often been inactive for years at a time.

After recording three albums, The Outsiders broke up in 1969.

In 1997 The Outsiders came together for the last time to play a reunion tour in the Netherlands. The tour was short-lived because of Tax' unpredictable behavior. [7] Jerome Blanes wrote "Outsiders by insiders" around this time, the official biography of the band.

Solo career

Tax, after briefly heading a band called Tax Free, went solo. He was accompanied, in succession, by Bamboule (1972), George Cash (1973), Watermen (1973), and The Mustangs (1976). [3] In 1974, he won the Silver Harp, an award for musical talent and had significant success with a couple of solo singles, "Miss Wonderful" and "It ain't no use". The end of his playing career was "Let's Dance" (1977), which became a small hit in the Netherlands. Fourteen years after "Tax Tonight", in 1989, he recorded his fourth solo album with The Music. The album was very well received by critics but the sales were low. It takes until 2002 before his next and last solo effort will be released. On "The Entertainer" Tax made a musical return to his rock roots. Again well received by critics, "The Entertainer" was not the success Tax hoped for. On the album Tax sings about his life as 'an entertainer' who is mostly misunderstood by his public. [8]


Afterward his playing career had ended, he concerned himself mainly with songwriting and wrote a number of hits for Dutch artists such as Lee Towers ("It's Raining in my Heart") [9] and Champagne ("Valentino," "Oh Me Oh My Goodbye," and "Rock 'n Roll Star," the latter charting at #2 in the Netherlands and #83 in the United States). [10]

Personal decline and death

Wally Tax grave 2.jpg
Grave of Wally Tax at the De Nieuwe Ooster cemetery in Amsterdam

The 1980s saw his personal decline, starting with the slow death by cancer of his long-time partner Laurie Langenbach, who died in 1984 — according to close friend Armand, he never recovered from her death and for the next twenty years lived surrounded by her personal belongings. [11] Efforts to revive a music career appear hampered by personal problems caused by alcoholism and tax problems. [2]

Tax died in 2005 in relative obscurity, bothered by financial and physical problems. He was buried in Amsterdam, after a gathering in Paradiso in his honor raised enough money for his funeral. [12] A year later, a benefit concert was held in Paradiso to raise funds for a monument to be placed on his grave. The monument, three guitar necks crossing, continues to draw visitors. [13]

His biography, Wally Tax - Leven en Lijden van een Outsider, was written by Rutger Vahl and came out ten years after his death in 2015. [14]



With The Outsiders

With Tax Free


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