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For Dutch Rock & Roll fans, Pim Maas is a familiar name. In the late 50’s and early 60’s Maas was known as the Dutch Elvis Presley. Pim Maas was lucky to spend two days with Elvis, that was something decisive in his life. Pim was born in 1944 in Amsterdam, the son of a bar owner and professional saxophonist. At the age of 14, he used all his savings to buy Elvis records and watch Elvis movies at the cinema.
Pim Maas’s parents had a bar at the Nieuwendijk, Amsterdam, the ‘Stateside Club’. “The bar was a place very frequented by American soldiers, of course, the music that constantly played on the premises was American, that included all the Elvis’s hits. For the young Pim all this music was new and wonderful. When he was alone in his room, Pim sang Elvis’s songs in front of the mirror, moving and emulating his idol. One day Pim’s uncle surprised him in front of the mirror, moving and singing like Elvis, He immediately had the idea of enrolling him in an Elvis impersonator contest. A total of 339 candidates participated. Pim Maas and his support band, the Presley Cats, performed “Tutti Frutti” and “Baby, I don’t care”, with 14 years, Pim won the first prize, which consisted of a drink and a record deal. This happened in 1959.
‘Kansas City and Alright Baby was my first single and was immediately sold without problems, in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium”. Pim Maas got a lot of performances, and one after another hung the sign of sold out.
One day, one of the American soldiers, a regular costumer of the bar, who happened to be in the same company as Elvis, appeared in the café and told him that he had shown Elvis one of Pim’s songs. A few weeks later, the soldier told Pim that Elvis invited him to come to the US Army base in Bad Neuheim, Germany. The young Pim was speechless, he didn’t know what to say.
Pim traveled with his parents and a member of the Dutch Elvis fan club to Germany. “Come in, come in”, was the first thing he said. I was naturally nervous, but Elvis quickly reassured me, and my parents too: his mother had just died and Elvis called my mother ‘mom’ “He thought that was wonderful”, Say Pim in an interview.
Elvis, recently promoted out, was in the barracks during the day, but he lived in a village on Goethestrasse 14 in Bad Neuheim. At half past four he went out to distribute autographs. “Then he said: Come on Pim, let’s go to work. At one point he gave me a pen. Ladies, may I introduce you the Dutch Elvis Presley? Come on Pim, hand out your scribble… “They talked about things they liked, music, cars… “I had a White sports BMW at that time. I was very proud of him. Elvis had a completely dented black Mercedes in the garage.” Things from my father”, he joked with me. Elvis’s father, Vernon, was in Germany accompanying his son.
In the afternoon, after coffee, and when Pim was already at ease and without nerves they began to sing. Elvis’s grandmother, Minnie Mae, his father, Vernon and some bodyguards where present. It was very strange, there they are, together, at the piano with the most popular star in the world, said Pim. “That’s alright Mama”, “Don’t be Cruel”, “Treat me Nice”, were some of the songs they played, young Pim knew all of Elvis’s songs by heart, everything was great for a 14-year-old kid. Then everyone went to dinner.
The next day, Pim went to the barracks alone. “We talked about what my intentions were and if I was being guided correctly. He also gave me useful advice. He had fun being there because he was very bored in the army”, Pim explained.
After those memorable days, Pim Maas spoke with Elvis once more. In 1961 he toured the United States and one night he phoned Elvis. “When I called him on the phone, he knew exactly who I was. He wasked me how I was. We had a long conversation and he said that unfortunately he couldn’t see me, because he was about to leave to Hawaii to shoot a movie. He would like to come back to see me again”. On the tour of the United States, Pim acted in several television shows, both on the east and west coast, and met stars like Tommy Sands, Annette Funicello and Ann-Margret, The RCA company covered all the expenses of Pim and his mother who accompanied him on this tour. They were treated as true stars, even though they were not known in the United States.
In New York, Pim visited the RCA record company. “I received a lot of inside information about Elvis and his manager (Tom Parker). The colonel didn’t have a good reputation. He was known as a rude person. It was known to all that Parker was of Dutch descent, that he had entered the country illegally. Because Parker couldn’t return to the United States if he left the country, Elvis couldn’t act in Europe. In Germany, Presley told me that he really wanted to give shows in Europe.”
Pim was very happy in California, and wanted to delay his return to Europe as much as possible. That’s why he went to Hollywood, to talk to Steve Sholes (1911-1968), the boss of RCA Records. He had a huge and very luxurious office, Pin Maas remember. He was received in a friendly way, but also in a little hurry. “Sholes, the man who brought Elvis Presley to RCA, had no idea what he was asking. He received me with the words, “Young man, speak fast. My time is valuable” I asked him if I could arrange it so that I had some more concerts, and some television show, so that I could spend a few more months in the United States. The director of RCA called Helen Weekend, her right hand. She organized everything. That was no problem for the Elvis Presley record company. They allowed me to stay another three months and I played with Del Shannon, Fabian and Frankie Avalon, among others”.
Pim Maas was 17, the Dutch Elvis was living an unrepeatable fairy tale.
With the rise of British Invasion bands and the transition from rock ‘n roll to pop, the still youthful Maas ceased to be such a popular and demanded artist. “For two and a half years I was working in nightclubs in Spain, Germany and Scandinavia. But around ’64 work began to be scarce. I was 20 years old. I obtained my license as a pilot of cargo, advertising and fumigation planes” Pim explained in an interview in the 90’s.
This new job allowed him to move to California, Santa Barbara specifically, where he lived for many years. On a visit to Holland he met the photographer Dixie Solleveld, who became his partner and with whom he lived since 1990. Pim never completely abandoned the music, he offered an average of 6 concerts by year. In the 90’s a compilation album appeared with his songs from the 50’s and first 60’s, from the Dutch label Rarity Records. In 2001 this same label released a double CD with its old and more current recordings.
Pim left us prematurely at 67.
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