For a time he was known as a jazz accordionist and his 75th birthday was celebrated at the North Sea Jazz Festival. He was also the subject of a film. He is the grandfather of pop singer Eva Simons.
From the 1950s onwards Johnny Meijer frequently toured abroad and earned the title King of the Accordion. Although the accordion is often associated with folk music, Meyer was versatile enough to play jazz and classical music. Twice he was accordion world champion in 1953 and 1954.
Besides the popular songs he also played fast swing numbers, Romanian music and classical pieces and was widely recognized as a virtuoso jazz accordionist. In 1974 he recorded the Dutch Swing College Band Johnny Goes Dixie LP, which went gold.
He will be remembered primarily as a live performer of folk music in Amsterdam. He was typically seen during performances with a cigar in his mouth, and his accordion (which can be seen at the Gert Nijkamp Muziekhuis in Apeldoorn) shows several burn marks as a result of this. In the last years of his life, Johnny Meyer was rarely invited to play large performances, mainly in connection with his short temper and his drinking, and thus the King of the Accordion saw out his final days mostly in silence, occasionally playing at weddings and parties.
In an televised interview during the North Sea Jazz Festival 2015 Richard Galliano specifically named Johnny Meyer as a major influence on his work.
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