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Gruppo Sportivo are a Dutch pop band, from The Hague, formed in 1976, who enjoyed some measure of international success in the late 1970s and 1980s. They had hit songs with "Hey Girl", "Beep Beep Love", "Tokyo (I'm On My Way)", "Disco Really Made It" and "Rock 'n' Roll". The frontman of the band, and writer of the material, is Hans Vandenburg. The band broke up in 2013.
The band formed in the 1970s, and rode to national popularity playing New wave music. The creative force was Hans Vandenburg (guitar and vocals), with Max Mollinger (drums), Peter Calicher (keyboards), Eric Wehrmeyer (bass), and the "Gruppettes" Josée van Iersel and Meike Touw (vocals). The band played pop songs whose lyrics contained humor, situational comedy, and inside musical jokes.
Their first single was Out There In The Jungle (Polydor 1976), but the height of their career came with the two albums 10 Mistakes (1977) and Back to '78 (1978). They came to popularity just after the height of punk rock, but were regarded as more post-punk, veering more towards the mainstream pop. "Dreamin", a song from the album 10 Mistakes received some college radio airplay in the US. They were admired for their live performances, which had great humour and slapstick. Their best known song is Beep Beep Love (from the album Ten Mistakes), which enjoyed some success both in the UK and US. The UK's Radio & Records voted them "Top Newcomer '78".
Other classics originating from the milestone albums include Tokyo, Hey Girl, I Said No, Lasting Forever, Shave, Rock 'n' Roll and Mission à Paris. The albums were produced by Robert Jan Stips (Supersister, Golden Earring, The Nits). After releasing single Sleeping Bag Hans Vandenburg disbanded Gruppo Sportivo at the height of their popularity. He got the band back together for Copy Copy in 1980, after the release of his solo debut album Buddy Odor Is a Gas (1979). Only Calicher and Mollinger remained from the original line-up.
From Copy Copy to Sing Sing
From 1980 to 1993 the band released such albums as Copy Copy (1980, with Deaf School's Bette Bright on vocals), Pop! Goes the Brain (1981), Designe Moderne (1982), Sombrero Times (1984), compilation album Back to 19 Mistakes (1988, including Wall of Voodoo cover Mexican Radio), Sucker of the Century (1989), Young & Out (1992, featuring radiohit She Was Pretty) and live album Sing Sing (1993).
Sing Sing included new versions of hits (a.o. Disco Really Made It, Mission à Paris and Beep Beep Love), album-tracks (a.o. Repeatlemania, Shave and Hollywood) and new songs (a.o. I Would Dance). The band toured Europe with the Bombita's (Lies Schilp and Inge Bonthond) on vocals.
After Sing Sing Hans Vandenburg released his solo albums Commercial Break (1994, including the rocker This Day Is Fine, which was accompanied by a video directed by Theo van Gogh) and Shake Hands with Vandenburg (1996). These albums were followed by Uit het Leven Gegrepen (1998), the debut album by his new band Dierenpark, the first album Vandenburg wrote in Dutch.
Topless 16, Rock Now Roll Later & The Secret of Success
After releasing Married with Singles in 2000, a compilation album with all the singles and b-sides from 1976 to 1988 (plus two new songs Click Here and I Don't Think So), the original band re-united for a handful of dates, including a high-profile show at 'Sail 2000', which was broadcast on TV.
In 2004 the band released the album Topless 16 featuring 16 new songs, including the single and video Superman Is Back, referencing both the iconic movie hero and their own classic 10 Mistakes song Superman. The album - their first with new songs only since Young & Out in 1991 - featured Gert Jan Konink on bass. Other songs and live favourites included Ray of Light, Your Words Are Free and Non Stop Girl.
It was followed in 2006 by Rock Now, Roll Later a compilation album featuring the band's singles from 1989 to 1996. It included two new songs: live favourite DoReMiFaSoLaTiDo and Green Utopia Bay, one of their best songs ever, according to Vandenburg.
In July 2006, the Japanese girl band, Puffy AmiYumi, recorded a new version of "Tokyo", originally recorded by Gruppo Sportivo in 1978.
To mark their 35th anniversary the band recorded the acoustic album The Secret of Success (2011), featuring new versions of songs from all over their career. From Henri to Hey Girl and from James Last Car to new song Pop Eyes. The album was accompanied by an extensive theatre tour. Looking back on the album on their official Facebook page in June 2015, the band stated that they considered My Uncle's Ben's Picture Book a highlight.
All three albums were released on Spotify between 2011 and 2013.
10 Mistakes re-release & farewell tour
In 2012 – 35 years after the original release – the band re-released their debut album 10 Mistakes, with five additional songs. A theatre and club tour followed in 2012-2013. During the shows the complete album was performed, combined with other Gruppo Sportivo classics and cover songs that inspired 10 Mistakes. On December 28, 2013, the band performed its last show at The Patronaat in Haarlem, Holland.
Dig It Yourself and Back to '78 re-release
Gruppo Sportivo is currently on a hiatus ('studio only band' according to Vandenburg). In June 2015 Vandenburg (aka Van DeFruits) released his solo album Dig It Yourself, which included Gimme Your Love, Grow Grow Grow, Nine Inch Nails re-make Various Methods of Escape and Groovin', a song he originally wrote with the late Dutch singer Herman Brood in the 80's. It was released on green vinyl (along with the bonus download album OK iPad featuring 9 songs for kids) and is also available digitally (iTunes, Spotify, Deezer a.o.). After very positive reviews in OOR Magazine, NRC and Parool (a.o.) and a short acoustic tour the album entered the Dutch Vinyl Top 50 at #8. Radio 2 DJ Hans Schiffers declared Dig It Yourself 'Album of the Week'.
In May 2016 Vandenburg released the cassette 'Zijn 20 Mooiste Demo's', containing 20 demo recordings including Mr. Smile, Find the Summer and Hooked. Dutch newspaper, Algemeen Dagblad, interviewed him about the project and his choice to release it on cassette. A limited number of cassettes is sold via Vandenburg's online shop.
September 2016 sees the re-release of Gruppo's classic and best-selling album Back to '78 on vinyl. The release includes downloadable live versions of never before released songs from 1978. A year later 1989 EP Sucker Of The Century - recorded with a.o. Robert Jan Stips - was released on digital platforms such as Spotify and iTunes.
While the band post pictures from an apparent recording session for a new album a new compilation album is released: The Golden Years Of Dutch Pop Music - Gruppo Sportivo. The 2-CD album consists of A and B side singles covering 1976 (Out There In The Jungle) to 1991 (She Was Pretty). The album enters the Dutch Album Top 100 at #85.
- Rare Tracks - Polydor (1976/77)
- 10 Mistakes - Ariola (1977)
- Back to 78 - Ariola (1978)
- Mistakes - Sire (1979)
- More Mistakes (7") - Sire (1979)
- Buddy Odor Is a Gas - Pye (1979)
- Copy Copy - Ariola (1980)
- Pop! Goes the Brain - Ariola (1981)
- Rhythm Is a Constant Beat (12") - Ariola (1981)
- Design Moderne - Ariola (1982)
- Sombrero Times - Ariola (1984)
- Back to 19 Mistakes - BMG/Ariola (1988)
- Sucker of the Century - JAWS Records (1989)
- Young and Out - Dutch VAN [2 CD Box] (1992)
- Sing Sing - Dutch VAN (1993)
- Second Life - Amsterdamned Records (1997)
- Married with Singles - Pseudonym Records (2000)
- Topless 16 - Pias (2004)
- DVD Career Movies (2006)
- Rock Now, Roll Later! - Pias [2CD](2007)
- The Secret of Success - T2 Entertainment (2011)
- The Golden Years Of Dutch Pop Music - Gruppo Sportivo - Sony/Universal (2017)
- Buddy Odor Is a Gas - Pye (1979)
- Hans Vandenburg's Commercial Break - VAN Records (1994)
- Shake Hands with Vandenburg - VAN Records (1996)
- Ouwe Hans Dierenpark - Uit het Leven Gegrepen - VAN Records (1998)
- Dierenpark - Sliptong - Suburban (2002)
- Dierenpark - Tot Ziens, Bedankt, Het Beste van Dierenpark Live! - My First Step Records (2006)
- Hans Vandenburg - Dig It Yourself - My First Step/Suburban Records (2015)
- Hans Vandenburg - Zijn 20 Mooiste Demo's - My First Step Records (Cassette, 2016)
- De Bloedverdunners - Ah Oh Wee- My First Step Records (USB stick, 2017)