Category Archives: To Be sorted


Finally Russia won and we could go to Moscow. I was quite excited about that, however I had some financial problems in 2009 – due to the global financial crisis. As I have indicated in my 2000 looking back, I stopped working that year and so my only income was interest from investments which took a horrible dip as the money was invested in the stock exchange and so I was unable to go for the entire two weeks. Also the hotel in Moscow was quite expensive. I arranged with Morten that I would be there just the first week and then go home and he then got someone from Norway to share the room with him the second week. This worked out perfectly because Per Michael was coming just for the second week and so he replaced me in the hotel room.

Two South Africans also decided to go to Moscow, Nelius Ferreira for his third Eurovision in a row and Carl-Piet van Eden for his first time. They decided to stay until the end.

I flew with Qatar airways via Doha which seemed the most direct route to Moscow.

The Russian visa was quite interesting cost wise – if you wanted it instantly, it was like say 100 euro, and then there was a drop of like 10 euro for each day you were prepared to wait until like 50 euro if you waited a week. I decided on the first one otherwise it would mean going to the embassy again to collect and traveling to Pretoria a second time. So for the first time ever I had my visa on the day of application.

For the first time I would also not arrive at the same airport as Morten. With Moscow being so big, there are several airports and Morten coming from the west would arrive at the Western airport and I coming from the South would arrive at the Domodedovo airport. Luckily Andy coming from Kazakhstan would also arrive at this airport and his flight was like an hour behind me. So we arranged that I wait at the airport for his arrival and then he has arranged with Alexey Tcharykov to pick us up and we pay him instead of a taxi.

We first went to the accreditation center and there was a long queue but Andy knew someone who came to fetch us and took us pass all these 100 of so people waiting and we ended up right in front of the queue to get our accreditation.

I was then taken to my hotel. Alexey had to leave immediately to go and get Morten at his airport as his flight was about to land at that time. I really liked our hotel, a big hotel with many floors and something like 23 of the delegations stayed there as well.

The hotel also had a foreign exchange counter where I could get ruble for my euro (again it was impossible to get any Russian money in South Africa).

Once Morten arrived and we had settled in properly, we walked around for some sightseeing, but the wind was blowing quite heavily. Near our hotel was some important tourist attraction with statues and stuff – I am not really a tourist so I sort of just tagged along and got to see the Russian people.

My highlight of Moscow was the underground – I love going down the escalator almost 1 kilometer and up and just to see the faces of people coming in the opposite direction – these escalators were always crowded, no matter what time we traveled. Our hotel was fairly close to the venue and the press center, like 3 metro stops.

The lay out of the press center was quite interesting and the pigeonholes – they were allocated alphabetical by COUNTRY and mine was under S – SOUTH AFRICA so almost like 1000 or so before me. The interesting thing is that you got a key for your pigeonhole and so you could go and unlock it any time you feel and see if there was something in.

Ralph Siegel returned and this time he wrote the song for Montenegro, “Just get out of my life” for Andrea Demirovic. I had a gift for Ralph as well as a certificate saying his 100th song had been covered in South Africa. The moderator made a mistake and said South Africa offered Ralph citizenship, when it was just that due to him having written so many songs that were covered in South Africa and sold well, the idea was that if ever he was tired of Germany, he could come to South Africa anytime and get citizenship. Meanwhile his partner Bernd Meinunger had already bought property in Cape Town as well as Nicole, so they already had South Africa as sort of a summer destination. They also have a music publishing company called CAPE TOWN songs.

Interesting in the press center was the fact that they had translators and so you could get the press conference in French, English and Russian – so nobody sat in front and translate . It was done automatic by translators in the back and you got it on your earphones.

The actual venue was just a few steps away from the press center. Everything was so well centered and easy to get to.

Remembering me from Belgrade, some people of the Belarus delegation showered me in gifts each time they saw me, especially one woman who was not very good in English, but each time she saw me, said “Here’s another gift”. I cannot even recall all the stuff, many of the items I gave to Morten to take to his OGAE members – I know there were crystal glasses and Vodka and chocolates. The interesting thing also was I often got a little note saying DEAR GUEST – there is a souvenir for your from a delegation. You can pick it up at the Equipment storage – this is because it was too big to fit into the pigeonholes. 90% of the time when I got this notice, it was something from Belarus.

A funny thing also happened with Belarus. While sitting in the press conference room someone came in with something we thought was CD’s. I took three, one for me, one for Morten and one for Andreas in Austria. Imagine my shock after a while when this CD’s started melting and then I realized this was not CD’s in a box, it was ice cream. I think quite a lot of people discovered this as well. Belarus had so much ice cream, you could feed an entire army on that.

With Sakis returning to Eurovision for Greece, I decided to do a project with a South African singer Izak Davel – he is sort of the South African Sakis. He was doing a new CD and I thought it would be nice if he covered Sakis 2004 song “Shake it” and we also presented it in a denim pocket since Izak also had a denim company as a sponsor. His record company told me I would not get on the plane to Moscow without it. Well, it is 8 years later and I am still waiting for it. This was really the worst thing for me, especially as Sakis knew about this. But he was so cool, in Moscow he said to me, “It’s not your fault, if they did not see the opportunity, it is their loss”. His 2009 song “This is the night” had been covered since by several singers but he has not returned to Eurovision so I could give him a copy.

Miss World 2008 Ksenia Sukhinova, who was filmed in image of girls of all participating countries, was decorating the venue and other parts of the city – It was interesting to see how she represented each different country.

Breakfast in our hotel was such a treat. Besides a lot of food and some very interesting and delicious, with 23 delegations staying there, I had breakfast every day with someone from another delegation – Albania, Romania, Iceland, Belgium, etc. This was the closest I had ever interacted with the artists.

Even more closer interaction came from Albania. The delegation was staying on the same floor as me and Morten and their singer Kejsi Tole practiced their song and dance routine in the lobby in front of our room. Albania also had a twin as backing dancers and these two guys decided to give me and Morten a personal show inside out bedroom just before the rehearsals so we could tell them where they could improve.


One day Morten and I visited the RED SQUARE – well, I had seen pictures of this square so many times on TV and filled with soldiers, it looked huge. I was quite disappointed in real life – it was actually fairly small. Around it was a huge new shopping center but so expensive, I did not even bought a postcard. This is surely the shopping paradise for the Russian millionaires.

Slovakia returned to the contest after quite some years with “Let’ tmou” by Nela Pociskova & Kamil Mikulcik. They had a big selection that year with several interesting songs. OGAE rest of the world was able to convince the other clubs that we should also take part in the OGAE Second chance contest and we would enter a song from a country without an own club. We decided on a song from Slovakia for our first entry. So I did spend a lot of time with the Slovak delegation to try and see which song we could enter – one with a video.

The Czech republic was also there with a song I still think it is one of the worst ever entered, “Aven romale” by We were told at the press conference that they were quite successful in China. The song did badly and that was the end of the Czech participation for quite a few years.

Chiara was back for Malta for a third time, this time she was singing “What if we”.

Lidia Kopania was there for Poland with an interesting song “I don’t wanna leave”.

Israel had an interesting song “There must be another way” sung by Noa & Mira Awad – I however expected more from the song – it promised so much but did not deliver in the end.

The 5 Nordic countries all have entries that are worth mentioning. We have also covered all 5 in South Africa – the first time ever that all 5 Nordic entries have been covered and three of them turned platinum here but it was the three that did not do as well as the ones of Norway and Iceland which came first and second. I think these two covers were not as well promoted as the ones from Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Interesting is that these three all had 5 or more SA artists covering them. The Finnish cover is so far the biggest seller of a Finnish song in South Africa and it is even played by Eurovision DJ’s at events – I heard Louis Klomp played in it Copenhagen – besides the Afrikaans cover, it was also done in English and Spanish here.

2009 also seemed to be the year with the most covers in South Africa – almost 75% of the songs have been covered. The most interesting cover was that of the German entry “Miss kiss kiss bang” – it was done in a duet between Patricia Lewis (who had covered both Charlotte’s entries -1999 and 2008 successfully) and David Hasselhoff from Knight rider fame. David even sings part of the song in Afrikaans.

Some years later Greece entered Eurovision with a song called “Alcohol is free” but this is exactly what happened in Moscow. Each member of the press got a lot of free coupons for free drinks – I think at least 5 a day and we got these coupons in advance. The coupons had different colours like green for Monday and red for Tuesday. Because I was not in Moscow for the second week, I gave out all my coupons to others.

The best promo CD ever (for me) came in the form of “Shine” from De Toppers of the Netherlands. This promo single must have cost a fortune. They also spent a lot of money and the three guys drove into the press center on bicycles. One of De Toppers actually left before Moscow, namely Gerard Joling who represented the Netherlands in 1988 at Eurovision. He was replaced by Jeroen van der Boom, who went on to cover the Danish entry of this year successfully in Dutch. Another Topper is Gordon who is really famous and had number 1 hits before. The third Topper is Rene Froger who also had a lot of chart success prior to De Toppers.

Some guy called Mesjieu Maurice covered Shine in Dutch as “Schijn” and also in the dialect of Limburg as “Sjien”. The proceeds of this single went to the Toon Hermans Huis for people with cancer.

Actually 2009 was the year of really special promo singles. Another stunning one came in the form of Yohanna from Iceland with “Is it true”. She also recorded several language versions, among them German and Russian.

Another out of this world promo pack came from Armenia – the song “Jan-Jan” by Inga and Anush. They also had the most beautiful t-shirts.

Serbia had a horror song but again a fantastic promo package with the CD having versions of the song in Serbian, English, Russian, French, Greek, Hebrew and Finnish.


They also brought a beautiful bag (but no shoes)

Yet another stunning promo single came from Turkey in the form of “Dum tek tek” by Hadise.

I ran into Philip Kirkorov in the press center and was able to hand him a promo single we had done – a cover by Lee Scott of his song “Shady lady” which Lee calls “Los my alleen”. Philip was really surprised by it.

Arash was there for Azerbaijan – he was in duet with AySel and their song is “Always”.He had a big hit called “Temptation” and it was covered by the boy band Hi 5 as “Versoeking” and I was able to hand Arash this CD – he too was extremely surprised that one of his songs travelled all the way to South Africa.

Romania had a song called “The Balkan girls” which I thought was really interesting and we covered it with Cole van Dais as “Suid-Afrikaanse meisies”.

Even Slovenia had a small promo single but it was cut in the form of a music instrument – really eye catching. The song “Love symphony” by Quartissimo featuring Martina was just too much of an instrumental track to really catch the attention of the fans.

A highlight for many was the visit to Vladimir Putin to the venue where he saw part of the Azerbaijan rehearsal and then came into the press conference room. I hardly recognized him as he was much shorter than I had expected. It was really nice of him to come and say “hello”. He had a lot of security guards with him. I think some of them left with Belarus ice cream.

One evening Jakob and Karina came to our hotel room to fetch their show tickets. It was the first time I met these two members of OGAE Norway.

I spoke to Malena Ernman as she mentioned the feathers from her dress was from South Africa. I really like “La voix”.

“Believe again” from Brinck was not really featuring on the radar but for some reason this song was in such demand that I had no less than 12 SA singers who wanted to cover it. At least six did with the biggest hit coming the way of Heinz Winckler who was the first Idols winner in South Africa. The first SA artist to cover “Believe again” was Henry Alant and we had the promo single in Moscow to hand personally to Brinck. In a year with really great promo singles the Danish one was awful, not even a cover.

Alexander Rybak from Norway was the overwhelming favourite to win with “Fairytale” and it did win. I like it but it was not a wow song to me.

Spain brought Soraya with a catchy song “La noche es para mi (the night is for me)”. I was able to also get a full CD by her.

Patricia Kaas was one of the big names, singing for France “Et s’il falliat fe fIaire”. I did not know of her until Eurovision as she surely is not well known among the average music lover in South Africa.

The United Kingdom has Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber writing their entry “It’s my time” sung by Jade, but it was to me one of his weaker compositions. Interesting is that a Russian teenage magazine had the promo single attached to the magazine and so many of us bought this magazine just for the single. I cannot even recall the name of the magazine, I knew once I took the CD single off, I gave it to the first young Russian female I came across in the street.


In 2008 the three big ex Soviet countries all had great songs. In 2009, their entries were no up to my taste, especially Ukraine with the awful “Be my Valentine (anti-crisis girl). Georgia decided to stay home after the EBU did not approve their entry – being political.

As usual I bought the double Eurovision CD and like Ukraine and Serbia, this was also special with the names of the countries written in Russian.

I also brought for the second year a special competition CD called EUROVISION ONS SING JOU LIEDJIES with covers of Euro songs in Afrikaans.


Well, as usual, there was some drama, this time on my departure. As the Russian ruble is worthless in South Africa and I cannot even exchange back home, I decided to workout exactly how much my taxi will cost to the airport. I ordered the taxi from the hotel reception and was told the fair will be x amount of ruble. I added like 10 ruble for a tip and made sure I spent the rest on sweets and things. The taxi came and Morten and me had a slight problem finding it – instead o being infront of the hotel, the taxi went into the parking lot. We finally located it and off I went. The driver was nice and friendly and asked me about my experience in Moscow. The streets were fairly empty – it was after all a Sunday morning. Imagine my shock when we got to the airport and the fair was 10 ruble more than I had. I explained to the driver that I was told the amount and added 10 ruble and now it is a further 10 ruble more – he said we went through a tollgate which was 10 ruble. I said I have no more Russian money so he will have to wait until I get to a foreign exchange counter at the airport to get 10 ruble, but he said it was okay – he understood. I gave him some souvenirs I got at Eurovision, like the cup and he was very happy.


The flight home was fairly uneventful and I was home in Johannesburg at the start of the rehearsals for semi final 1. Luckily with internet, I was able to follow what was happening back in Moscow. Although I was home in South Africa, I sort of figured in Moscow as well. Morten was unable to convince the reception staff at the hotel that I had left and Per Michael was the new person in the room, so poor Per Michael was the entire time “Roy”.

Nelius, who was the board member for Africa at the time, attended the OGAE meeting on behalf of R O W and I gave my pigeonhole key to Morten so whatever came in their, he could take for his members. There were 42 entries in Moscow and I had gotten 40 promo singles before I departed, missing just two – DENMARK and PORTUGAL and they gave into my pigeonhole after my departure and Morten posted those two off to me once he was back in Oslo – so I had a full house.

My favourites from Moscow are
Netherlands – Shine – De Toppers
Sweden – La voix – Malena Ernman
Bosnia & Herzegovina – Bistra voda – Regina
Iceland – Is it true – Yohanna
Montenegro – Just get out of my live – Andrea Demirovic

Horrors came in the form of
Czech republic – Aven romale –
Ukraine – Be my valentine (anti-crises girl) – Svetlana Loboda
Russia – Mamo – Anastasia Prikhodko
Serbia – Cipela – Marko Kon & Milaan
Latvia – Probka – Intars Busulis


It was quite difficult booking a flight to Belgrade – the best was with the Greek airline- Johannesburg – Athens – Belgrade. Returning was a problem, the flight there left Belgrade at 10 am on the Saturday morning, landed in Athens at midday and departed only 12 hours later at midnight for Johannesburg. I had to take this although it was not ideal, meaning I miss the entire Saturday of the final. But I have missed the final before so this was nothing new. For me the first week was anyway the most important, meeting the artists and composers and getting the promo singles.

Serbia has an embassy in Pretoria but they have a strange visa policy – all visas are done in Belgrade and not at the embassy in Pretoria. This made life tense for me as, although I handed in my passport a month before departure, I was only informed 2 days before departure that the passport can be collected at the embassy.

Nelius Ferreira was going again with me, like he did to Helsinki, so anyway both our passports were coming back on the same day. He however did not fly with Greek airline as he wanted to watch the final and so he flew via Frankfurt which is never a good option for me as Frankfurt is always a busy route and more expensive.

Morten booked a great hotel for us. We also had a prior arrangement – the woman working at the travel agency where Morten booked, was from Belgrade and she arranged with her brother who was still living there to meet us at the airport. So we paid him instead of a taxi. He also took us to the accreditation office to get our accreditation before dropping us at the hotel.

Our hotel was overlooking a MacDonalds that was bombed a few weeks prior to our arrival. At that time the war had just about ended and many people were nervous going. I was not as I live in a country where all kinds of attacks happened often and you anyway will die when it is your time.

Having not been to any ex Yugoslavia country and remembering my difficulty with foreign currency exchange in Kiev in 2005, I consulted my bank for advice on the best way to take money. They advised me to take traveler’s cheques as that is the safest option and lowest commission. The traveler’s cheques were in US dollar. Well, imagine my shock when the Monday morning I went to a bank there and they gave one look at the traveler’s cheques and said sorry, we do not exchange them, especially not American express traveler’s cheques. I went to 3 other banks and all had the same response. That meant I was stuck without money. Morten allowed me to use his telephone to phone the AMERICAN express office in the Netherlands who said sorry, Serbia is one of the few European countries who do not accept this and my bank should have never sold that to me.

It was impossible to deal with the bank in South Africa, I did many e-mails but they were not answered, or someone just said we can deal with this when you are back in the country. I heard that same day of a Finnish Eurovision fan who was on a train from Poland to Belgrade and he was robbed – his passport, laptop, money everything. The Finnish embassy in Belgrade came to his rescue – helped him with a temporary passport and a cash advance etc. I was so impressed – however no such help for me from my bank or the South African embassy. Luckily being with Morten, he wanted some stuff like a shirt and shoes and I could buy them on my credit card in return for cash. Luckily at Eurovision, I seldom spent a lot of money. But I of course had to pay Morten my share of the hotel cost but he understood that I would refund him once I was back home.

I tried not to let this incident ruin my Eurovision experience. I was extremely impressed with the Serbian people, especially the younger generation – they were wonderful people and I mixed with several of them when I took a bus every morning to the venue. Near the hotel was a wonderful kebab place and this guy every afternoon saw me coming and had my kebab ready. He liked the entry of Montenegro so I got him a copy of the promo single ” Zauvijek volim te” by Stefan Filipovic. He was so happy – I guess he was Montenegrin, I did not ask.

I was also very impressed with the members of OGAE Serbia, such a bunch of nice and friendly people and they took me backstage to the room where they gathered. I brought them a bottle of wine from South Africa, but I had it in my hand luggage and right at that time, they were very strict and all liquids were taken off passengers. Luckily I could inform Nelius to bring another bottle but put it in his in his suitcase which is booked in so at least we had a bottle of wine to give to OGAE Serbia.

The OGAE fanstand was quite nice and big, but one floor up and in a very quiet place and I said the chances of anybody coming there is slim. So we moved the fan stand to in front of the entrance to the press conference room and it was the right decision – it was so busy, everybody voted.
I was also very impressed with the Belgrade volunteers – always friendly, always helpful and what was so nice is that often they would stand in a long line and clap and cheer when an artist was coming to the press conference room. Then they walked in a line (like in the army) to get their food, mostly pizza.

Belgrade was also the only Eurovision where there were several press working rooms, two big ones downstairs – one for people with own laptops and one for people who needed a computer. Then upstairs where was 3 smaller rooms where you could sit in peace and quiet. We got an very interesting note book.


The Euroclub in Belgrade was HUGE – one evening Nelius and I were the DJ’s. OGAE Serbia arranged for us to go back to our hotels with a taxi and they carried the cost. Morten was quite impressed with the music we played.

The venue was some distance from the press center but it was a nice walk and there were small little restaurants and shops around it – we ate something light there several times.

The OGAE meeting was hosted in the Euro fan cafe where there were computers for fans to do their e-mails etc. They also had people performing there. The Euro fan cafe was like half way from the press center to our hotel.

I cannot recall the welcome party but I did attend as I went with Morten and other Norwegian fans who stayed in our hotel by taxi. But it did not impress me like Istanbul or Kyiv, nor was it as bad as Athens and Helsinki.

Two countries debuted in Belgrade, namely San Marino with Miodio and their song “Complice” and Azerbaijan with Elnur & Samit and their song “Day after day”. It brought the total countries to 43 as Austria decided to stay home.

Interesting is that a newspaper was printed every day during Eurovision in Belgrade – this was like having a summary of the previous day’s events


Slovenia has a great selection song, MANDOLINE by Sasa Lendero which did not win the selection. We decided to cover it in Afrikaans and I bought some copies to Belgrade since Slovenia is also an ex Yugoslavia country and I wanted to give it to members of the delegation. The Afrikaans version is called “Parstyd” (which refers to the process when grapes are turned into wine). As Nelius wrote the Afrikaans lyrics, it seemed ideal to bring it as he was also in Belgrade. The song was recorded by Ruan Cowley who also recorded the Serbian winner of 2007 “Molitva” in Afrikaans.


Interesting about the Hungarian delegation – they went home after the individual country rehearsals and returned then some days later for the show rehearsals – they told me it was cheaper flying home than to stay in a hotel in Belgrade for the entire period. I liked their entry and one of the composers is Viktor Rakonczai who was part of the group V I P that sang for Hungary in 1997 – I did not recognize him. We discussed covering the song “Candlelight” in Afrikaans.


On the Tuesday of the second week, something awful happened but it also showed that luck is sometimes on your side. I was fairly tired that day and also it looked like it was going to rain, so I told Morten I would be going back to the hotel. He was still busy watching the family show of semi final 1 and blogging for NRK about it. I just reached the entrance of the hotel when the heavens opened – I had not seen that much rain before. I asked for the hotel room key at reception and went up to the room. I cannot remember on what floor our room was, but Morten says it was the 7th floor. As I unlocked the door to the room, I heard a huge bang – the geyser burst and suddenly water was coming out everywhere. I had such a shock. I started getting our stuff out of the bedroom and into the hallway – the water at that moment was just in the bathroom. I of course first SAVED the promo singles but I have never worked this hard to clear the room. By the time I had everything out, the water was knee deep also in the bedroom. I left everything in the hallway and ran down the stairs to reception to tell them what had happened. They reacted quickly, came up to the room and turned off the water and then gave us another room on the same floor but in another passage and helped me carry everything to this room. By that time I was totally exhausted and fell on one bed in the room. Meanwhile an hour later Morten came to the hotel. By that time the key for our old room was back at reception and there had been a chance of staff at reception and he got the key, thinking I had gone out to get something to eat since the rain had stopped. He got to the room, unlocked the door and saw just an empty room – by that time the cleaning people had dried up all the water. He thought we had been robbed – and he could not believe they even took our dirty underwear and he then ran down the stairs as fast as he could and once he got down at reception, someone informed him of what had happened and told him about our new room. We were so lucky, had I got felt tired and because of the storm coming back sooner, the water from the geyser would have flooded everything we had. The only damage was my shoes because of all the water walking in and out to carry our stuff to the passage. Now I always bring just one pair of shoes to Eurovision and so had to walk bare feet to go and buy a new pair of shoes.

By now I had two major incidents – the money thing and the burst geyser, so the Wednesday I just rested most of the day. But life goes on and the contest was on and I had a 10 out of 10 song, Latvia. The moment I heard this song “Wolves of the sea” by Pirates of the sea, I just fell in love with it. Many people looked in shock at me when I said this was my favourite and even one person said how could I even tell that – but taste is individual and I have never made a secret of which songs I like or hate – even if I am the ONLY one liking that.

Many fans were hysterical over the entry from Portugal, “Senhora do mar” by Vinia Fernandes. I remember during the voting at the fan stand, almost half the press voted for this while Latvia had almost no votes besides mine. And it then not only qualified but ended up higher on the night than Portugal. I love the Latvia song so much so when the Smurfs recorded it in Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, I made sure I got all the these CD’s – under normal circumstances I would never have bought a Smurfs CD.




I had a disagreement with someone of the Latvian delegation – I was promised the promo CD almost instantly and this person was not willing to give it to me. Finally when some of the composers (who are Swedish) came, I got it, and there were two different singles – I guess one was the Latvian printing and the other the Swedish printing. I had the song also covered in South Africa by Willem Botha and this gave him a chance some years later, but more on that when we get to 2013.


Two press conferences stood out, IRELAND with Dusty the Turkey and “Irelandse douze pointe” – it was jam-packed. The other LITHUANIA with “Nomads in the night” by Jeronimas Milius, almost empty until of course people heard they were giving the promo CD out to those in attendance.


Serbia has a great promo single of their entry “Oro” by Jelena Tomasevic featuring Bora Dugic and they were fantastic, putting a copy into each person’s pigeonhole and also made sure the volunteers got a copy of their own entry. Besides the Serbian version, they had versions in Spanish, Portuguese and Greek.



I nearly lost the Finnish promo single “Missa miehet ratsastaa” by Terasbetoni. I found a black envelope in my pigeonhole with nothing on and thought it was just something stupid and threw it away. A little while later the Finnish head of press asked me if I got the promo single and I said no. She then said but she personally put it in my pigeonhole in a black envelope. I rushed to the rubbish bin and still found it there.


I really like the Andorra entry “Casanova” by Gisela and we covered that in Afrikaans as well.


Armenia brought a fantastic promo back with their entry “Qele qele” by Sirusho – some years later I heard some fan paid a fortune for this CD on Ebay.


The entry from Bosnia & Herzegovina was quite interesting with one of the people hanging clothes on a washing line – this has stuck in my memory.

I have to say that looking back at the various Eurovisions is about high lights and low lights and lowest light came in the form of the Spanish entry “Baila el chiki chiki” by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre. This song is pure horror and occupies the number one spot on my hate list of Eurovision. I could not believe the Spanish public picked this.


Croatia brought someone called 75 cents, a guy who was 75 years at the time – his age record did not last too long and quite soon artists even older came to Eurovision.

Georgia had “Peace will come” by Diana Gurtskaya, a blind singer. Cole van Dais loved this song and covered it with someone in 4 language – English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Spanish.

I really enjoyed the Malta entry “Vodka” by Morena but it should have rather been their entry the next year when we went to Moscow.

Iceland brought Euroband with “This is my life”, a very catchy song and what I like of their promo CD, is that it contains a couple of other Eurovision covers, among them Celine Dion’s 1988 winner in English.


We had a surprise for Maria of Norway. A local female singer Jennifer Zamudio covered “Hold on be strong” in Afrikaans and she brought it to me literally 2 hours before my plane departed for Belgrade.



Sweden had Charlotte returning, but now with a new surname Perrelli. Her song “Hero” was very good but it did not do well. She still remembered me from Jerusalem.

The 3 big Russian countries all had good entries. There was Belarus with Ruslan Alehno and “Hasta la vista”. I took him some fruit sticks which he loved and Belarus TV even recorded him eating some of them – he especially love the apricot flavour.


Ukraine had Ani Lorak with “Shady lady” with composers Philip Kirkorov and Karen Kavaleryan and the promo single also features a Russian version.


Lastly Russia had Dima Bilan returning with “Believe” and I knew when I saw the man ice skating during the show, this will do well. I did not expect it to win, but it did and so gave Russia its first victory.


I got a surprise in my pigeonhole – the CD single of “Viva la musica” by Man Meadow which was an entry in the Polish selection this year and composed by Thomas Gson. This is such a good song and it would have been wonderful if this had won in Poland. We covered this in Afrikaans to great success – keeping the title just with Afrikaans lyrics.


As usual I bought the double Eurovision compilation CD and like in Ukraine, the names of the countries were in the local language, Serbian.


I also took a compilation I had made of SOUTH AFRICAN covers of Euro songs and I really was surprised how much the delegations liked this, especially the composers as the South African market was a totally new market for them.



Going home, the 12 hour sit at the Athens airport was quite difficult but a 12 year old South African girl flew in from Belgrade with me – her parents got divorced and her father went to Serbia and worked there and she came to visit him – she was travelling alone and the airline staff sort of took care of the two of us and we each got 12 euro to buy something – but you could not buy a lot at an airport for 12 euro.

On my return, I had a 6 month battle with with bank over the traveler cheque issue which they refused to solve – the case went to the bank ombudsman who ruled in my favour and I got 100 euro compensation for pain and suffering – he said it could have been ten times more if I had been there alone, but I had Morten and other Eurovision friends and accommodation etc so I did not really was stranded on the street. I had to cash in the traveler’s cheques but as is common in South Africa, the rand always drops so I got less out than I had paid but the bank had to give me the same and also pay Morten my hotel cost and carry all the transaction costs. And the woman who sold the traveler’s cheques to me got a fine – her excuse was she never held a GUN to my head to force me to buy the traveler’s cheques but the Ombudsman ruled I went there for expert advice and they gave the wrong advice.

Through my travel insurance I was not able to claim for the shoes that I lost in the hotel water incident as you have a 50 euro first payment and the new shoes I bought was 45 euro. But luckily the promo CD’s were not damaged as NO money would have been able to replace that.

My favourites for 2008 are
Latvia – Wolves of the sea – Pirates of the sea
Andorra – Casanova by Gisela
Hungary – Candle light by Csezy
Iceland – This is my life – Euroband
Malta – Vodka – Morena
Russia – Believe – Dima Bilan
Sweden- Hero – Charlotte Perrelli

And the horrors are
Spain – Baila el chiki chiki – Rodolfo Chikilicuatre
Belgium – O Julissi – Ishtar
Estonia – Leto svet – Kreisiraadio
United Kingdom – Even if – Andy Abraham


Although I did not like “Rock hard hallelujah” by Lordi a lot, I was happy to go to Finland for Eurovision and especially happy for the country who waited so long for their first victory. I have been a big fan of Finland and had been there several times before. I remember especially my first trip to Europe in 1983 and the problem with visas. Those years there were no Schengen visas and I had to get an individual visa for each country. Travelling by Eurail to Finland meant going over Denmark and Sweden, both had strange conditions for the visa. Sweden said they will approve my visa once I had the Danish visa and Denmark said they will approve my visa once I had the Swedish visa. So I went to get the Finnish visa (which was easy) and said now tell me how do I get to Finland if you do not issue me visas and then both countries did.

Then came 1988. I was in Europe and watched Eurovision in Amsterdam. After I saw Boulevard as the Finnish entry (just love that song), I jumped on the Eurail to go and meet the group in Helsinki and get the vinyl single.

The Finnish embassy is in a house in Pretoria and really such a nice atmosphere and always fairly easy to get their visa. I guess they are the least busy of the Schengen countries so they treat you really nice and want you to have a good impression of their country.

I decided to fly via Amsterdam to Helsinki as I anyway like Amsterdam and there was a good connection to Helsinki, only waiting 2 hours at Schipol airport (which is a great airport with lots to see and do). I had arranged with Max Mannola to meet me at the airport in his car and take me to the accreditation center for my badge and then to the hotel.

The hotel we stayed in Helsinki was quite interesting – Martti Immonen, the president of OGAE Finland at that time, had arranged this hotel just for OGAE fans, so all the people were OGAE. I again shared with Morten and for some reason they thought either me or Morten was disabled so we got the big room for disabled people – especially the bathroom was triple the size of most. It was also the first ever time I stayed in a hotel with no service people, all entry is by card and there is hardly anybody on duty to help you. I was a little nervous at first but it worked quite well. Almost all the OGAE Norway fans stayed in the hotel as well, including the board of OGAE Norway.

Having had problems with accreditation for 2005 and 2006, I did not take a chance for 2007 so when Finland offered P accreditation for people working at the fan stand (which I anyway love), I took that offer instantly. The fan stand was at a good position, centrally located and Finland gave each worker at the fan stand a badge to wear with your name on and what languages you can communicate in, so it was so easy, if you want someone to speak German with you, you instantly check who had the German flag on their name badge. I met wonderful people at the fan stand, one of the Finnish fans had a book which she wanted each artist to sign. Maiken Maites was in charge of the fan stand and it was the first time I met her. She later became OGAE International president. Graham and Mark from the UK also took up the offer to work at the fan stand in return for P accreditation. The fan stand was very busy, if I remember correctly, it was the first time we started voting for who will qualify to the final and then who would end up winning. We lost so many pens at the fan stand as people just helped themselves with pens to complete the voting form and then never returned the pens. I think Maiken each morning came with a bunch of new pens from some hotel group. I think it was the first time we handed out cards with some euro credit so people could SMS votes during the live shows. I remember especially tons of Maltese people came to vote and collect this cards.


Around the fan stand and pigeonholes were wonderful chairs and stuff and TV screens, so people could really relax. I had some competitions at the fan stand, one was about Belgium female singer DANA WINNER. Although she has never sang at Eurovision herself, she is probably the singer who has done the most covers. My friend Patrick Berini-Pierron in France, who is a big fan of Dana, put a compilation CD together of Dana covers, among them one in Afrikaans of the 1981 Dutch entry and fans could win this compilation at the fan stand. I also enjoyed meeting interesting people at the fan stand, one meeting that stood out was with Richard Herrey from the 1984 winning group for Sweden, The Herreys.


2007 also was the first time someone from South Africa joined me, Nelius Ferreira who was at that moment a board member of OGAE Rest of the world as the person responsible for Africa. He was able to get a F accreditation from the EBU. He arrived the day of the welcome party. I waited for him at the venue but when he did not turn up, I made my way to the place where the welcome party was, but I did not like it. It was too crowded once I arrived and I was unable to eat a single piece of food and then went home to the hotel. It was quite cold and I got flu.


My friend Andreas from Vienna, Austria also joined me in Helsinki for his first Eurovision since Stockholm 2000. Both he and Nelius were staying in hotels close to where I was staying and we went together to the venue by train (both P and F could travel on the train for free with their accreditation badges).

I also met up one day with my friend Tom Forsman, who lives in Helsinki. I had visited him several times in the 80’s but had not seen him since 1991. He took me to a second hand record shop where I bought around 10 Finnish CD singles at 1 euro each. One of these was “Den glider in” which feature Kirka who sang for Finland in the 90’s. This song was a song during the Ice hockey world championship in Sweden in 1995.


I was able to find the single UMM MA MA by NYLON BEAT – it is from 1998. I think it was a selection song that year.


I also bought a DVD of Jari Sillanpaa who sang for Finland wat Eurovision in 2004 with “Takes 2 to tango”.


The press working area had free yogurt for the press if I remember correctly.

Something like 23 people came to me asking about Hi 5, the South African boy band who brought out a CD with 6 Eurovision covers and also doing a song from Arash “Temptation” which they called “Versoeking” and a great video was made of this song. By this time Hi 5 was in Spain on a 6 months contract, singing there at venues. The Spanish entry for 2007 was D’Nash with “I love you mi vida” (composed by among others Thomas Gson) which I thought would be ideally suited for Hi 5 for their next album. Unfortunately there was no next album as like with so many boy bands, the members started to argue and the group disbanded. It was a great pity.




I liked the United Kingdom entry “Flying the flag (for you) by Scooch. This was so well presented and so typical Eurovision and was really disappointed that it did not do well in the final.


Finland, on home soil, had Hanna and “Leave me alone”. The promo single came in the form of a greeting card – very clever and different.


The Czech republic finally debuted and they brought a group very popular in their country Kabat but their song “Mala dama” did not really captured the hearts of European fans.


To celebrate the debuting of the Czech republic, we have a compilation CD called CZECH TRIBUTE TO ABBA. This compilation CD features 23 ABBA songs sung by artists from the old Czechoslovakia and some are in the Czech language and some are in the Slovak language.


Denmark was responsible for some drama in the form of Drama queen and her song “Drama queen”. It is a really catchy song and DQ became quite popular among the fans. At that time I had no idea how important he and his song would be in 2014 when Eurovision was back in Copenhagen.


One fan had his Eurovision bag with some promo CD’s inside stolen inside the men’s room. Not everybody was convinced this really happened. If, indeed true, it is horrible that such a thing can happen. Several fans also crawled underneath counter into the pigeonhole area to help themselves to some stuff but luckily these people were caught.

One evening everybody went home before the last press conference which was of Armenia with Hayko. I did stay behind because I quite like the song and also Armenia proved to be one of the most difficult CD’s to get. We were just 7 or so and we all got the promo CD single of “Anytime you need”.


Sveinn Runar Sigurdsson was back as composer for the Icelandic entry “Valentine lost” by Eirikur Hauksson who had been at Eurovision twice before, first in 19856 when Iceland made their first appearance at Eurovision as part of the group Icy and then again in 1991 for Norway as part of the group Just 4 fun. I met up with Sveinn in the center of Helsinki and he gave me the full CD – not sure if there was a CD single as I never saw it at all.


For the first time the Swedish promo single was difficult to get. The Ark was a very well known group at the time in Sweden but also in Finland and they said fans could go and buy the CD single in record stores in Helsinki. I was able to swap it from someone for a Hi 5 CD. Alan Tubery reported to me that this was the last Eurovision entry that has been released on vinyl – 500 copies were printed.


Latvia brought a fun group and their song “Questa notte” is so catchy. We used this melody to write a tribute song to Nelson Mandela which Tobi Jooste and Gloria Bosman recorded. I was with Andreas when he got the individual members to sign his photo book.


Romania had an equally fun group in the form of Todomondo with “Liubi, liubi, I love you”.

The Netherlands brought a returning artist, Edsilia Rombly who scored high in 1998, but her song “On top of the world” was not on top of the list of the voters and she failed to reach the final.

Verka Serduchka with “Dancing lasha tumbai” represented Ukraine and many fans love this. It was nothing special to me but it ended in second place on the final night.

Russia brought Serebro with “Song number 1” which I still after all these years cannot recall at all, so it made no impression on me.

Belarus had Koldun, a very attractive singer with a song written by Philip Kirkorov and Karen Kaveleryan. When Koldun was born, his mother thought he looked like Princes Diana. Andreas had Koldun signing his photobook. The promo CD also features a Russian version of the song.



We also got some Koldun chocolates.


The 2007 winner came in the form of Serbia’s entry “Molitva” sung by Marija Serifovic (who looked like a female Elvis Presley to me). It was the first time Serbia took part as a solo country and it was the first winner of Eurovision since 1998 not to be sung in English. Andy Mikheev wrote the Russian lyrics to the song and they even recorded a Finnish version as well.


Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Germany, Switzerland and Austria all brought fairly well known artists in their countries with interesting songs. They had a varied degree of success.

The OGAE president’s meeting was quite awful and I rather want to forget what happened there.

2007 was not so special for me as not one of the 42 songs got a 9 or 10 from me. But I had a top 8 who all scored an 8
Belarus – Work your magic – Koldun
Malta – Vertigo – Olivia Lewis
Portugal – Danca comigo – Sabrina
Norway – Ven a bailar conmigo – Guri Schanke
Serbia – Molitva – Marija Serifovic
Latvia – Questa notte –
United Kingdom – Flying the flag (for you) – Scooch
Spain – I love you mi vida – D’Nash

There were some horrors
Belgium – Love power – The KMG’s
Poland – Time to party – The Jet set
Israel – Push the button – Teapacks


The Greek visa was fairly easy and I could get it at the consulate in Johannesburg and did not have to go to the embassy in Pretoria. With many Greek people living here, the consulate is quite big, but also have fairly long queues. As always visa hours are strange like 2 hours in the morning to apply and then a week later 2 hours in the afternoon to collect.
For some strange reason, I was not on a direct flight to Athens from Johannesburg but because of that a portion of my ticket was discounted by the airline, so at least I saved some money. I cannot recall via which city we flew, but I think it was somewhere in the north of Africa.
I arrived early the morning on the Athens airport – it was the new airport build for the Olympics. I had been in Athens before but at the old airport. It was big and empty and I could not find a Eurovision counter or OGAE stand like at previous Eurovisions. I made my way out somehow and got a taxi taking me to the city center where our hotel was. Morten had already arrived together with several other OGAE Norway fans. I finally got to the hotel. Morten had bought underground tickets for the period since with the heavy traffic in Athens, if we traveled by Eurovision shuttles, it could takes ages before we got to the venue. With the underground it was fairly fast, yet still probably 30 minutes to get to the Olympic park where the venue was. It was also some walk from where we got off the underground to the press center.
Interesting of this hotel was the fact that many OGAE people stayed there, especially OGAE presidents – Rest of the world, Norway, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Denmark, etc.
Accreditation was once again not so easy. There were long queues and the people were not working that fast. Also I had to wait for the head of delegation from Iceland to sign my accreditation form. Morten missed at least the first rehearsal by the time he was helped and by the time I got to the press center, I think I had missed the first three rehearsals and the first press conference. On top of it, someone from South Africa came with me but was refused accreditation – and the EBU spoke to me and said it would be in my interest to cut ties with this person – which I did once I got back to South Africa. It was clear this person was using me to get into Eurovision and then do projects for financial gain.
I met up again with Graham and Mark, but only Mark was able to get accreditation and Graham had to be outside the press center. I would go out a few times a day to chat to him and took him something to eat from the press center.
I really liked the Greek press center. In the working area for journalists with P were little boxes where you could lock up your Eurovision bag, jacket, promo CD’s and lock it with your own key. This was fantastic so you did not have to walk around with tons of things or worry it could get stolen. The pigeonholes were a little problem – Greece of course decided to start at 1 to about 500 for Greek journalists and only after that the rest of the people got pigeonhole numbers.
Inside the press working area, often the artists walked through to get out of the building and if you sat close to where they came out, you always had a chance to chat to them first – that is how I managed to get hold of the Albanian singer, Luiz Ejlli, who only had home made CD’s and probably just 5 to 10 – they look like nothing, they were just white without a cover or print, but he signed each one and if I had not witness him signing mine, I would have never believed it was him signing it as it was impossible to make out his name as it was just a scribble.

It was the first time I met Carola. She was walking in the press center and I was surprised how short she is. I really like her song “Invincible” and was hoping she could do what Johnny Logan did, win a second time.

I did see Lordi but was not really interested in them at all. Little did I know they would win. I never for one moment considered them as winners. “Hard rock hallelujah” was okay but not a song I would play a lot.
There was an OGAE fan stand but it was outside the press center and on the way to the cafeteria. I never saw anybody working there or anybody visiting it.
Just like in 2005, there was again a Viking party organized by the Nordic countries. In 2005 they had Ireland joining them, but for 2006 it was again just the 5 Nordic countries.

Ralph Siegel was back again, this time for Switzerland with Six4One – I really love the song – “If we all give a little”. I also had a gift for Ralph – I had made two compilation CD’s, each one with 25 songs – covers of his songs from South Africa. We got both the CD single and the full CD – on this there are also individual songs by the 6 artists (Claudia D’Addio, Marco Matias, Liel, Andreas Lundstedt, Tinka and Keith Camilleri)

Athens was the first Eurovision I had never sat foot in the venue. I never went for a single rehearsal, I spent most of my time in the press center. It was also a very busy period for me, getting ready to pitch at the OGAE International meeting where they would vote on OGAE Rest of the world. We had a one year probation from Kiev and now it was time to vote whether we would be a fully functional OGAE club. There was one other club also in the same position, Andorra. I also had to work with the Armenian delegation as we got permission to entry the OGAE song contest with a song by them. If I remember correctly Armenia debuted in Athens with Andre and his song “Without your love”.

Andy did not attend Athens but he had several Russian speaking workers there who I met, one of them knew like 12 languages.
Near me in the press center was the president of OGAE Netherlands and other members of the Dutch board and they were very busy with the ticket packages. It was my first introduction to this part of OGAE work.
Fabrizio Faniello was back for Malta with a great song “I do”. With him was again Manfred Holz from Germany as the publisher of his song. Unfortunately, “I do” ended in last position to the surprise of many fans. In South Africa there was such demand from singers to cover this song, I had no less than 12 singers interested in it. Tobi Jooste made a special single of his covers of the song.


Germany brought a country song in the form of “No no never” by Texas lightning and there were high hopes among the German fans for a good placing, if not a win. The song is okay but I saw nothing special in it, although the single contains their cover of “Waterloo” which to me is nothing special.

Russia brought a big name Dima Bilan and he sang “Never let you go”. I predicted a top 3 position for this.


One afternoon I was working on preparations for the OGAE meeting – it was the first time I had worked with a memory stick. And it was not even my own. Towards the late afternoon, I was tired and I left to go back to the hotel. I took the underground and by the time I reached the hotel, I discovered I had left the memory stick in the computer in the press center and so I instantly caught a train back to the venue. I was so relieved when it was still in the computer. But I had a lot of stress for an hour or two, thinking what if someone took it and I lost all the work.
I had a very good friend in Athens, Isabella and we were learning each other’s language but after a year I was able to say just 5 words in Greek while she was mastering Afrikaans like a pro. She went with me to the welcome party. It was so crowded. The queues for food were so long, so we left early and went somewhere else, if I remember a party for Anna Vissi, who was the artist for Greece with “Everything” and for a few moments I thought Greece could record back-to-back victories.

A big favourite with the fans was Kate Ryan who was there for Belgium with the song “Je t’adore”. I like it and also thought it would do well so it was a huge shock when she failed to qualify for the final.

Both Denmark and Estonia brought great songs (according to my taste). Sidsel Ben Semmane with “Twist of love” and Sandra Oxenryd with “Through my window” are songs right for the South African market and both were covered here in Afrikaans by Hi 5.



The United Kingdom had a fairly catchy song in the form of “Teenage life” by Daz Sampson and several UK fans (including the then OGAE UK president) dressed up one day in school uniforms.

Poland brough Ich Troje back and although I do like “Follow my heart” it was not as catchy as their 2003 entry.

Lithuania brought a full CD with a variety of artists on it. It is called There are 8 songs on it, one for example by the group B’avarija who tried several times to win the Lithuanian selection. It is quite an interesting cross selection of Lithuanian talent at the time.

The promo single of Turkey is very special. It contains a DVD, a CD with audio and a CD Rom with photographs. The song is called “Superstar” and sung by Sibel Tuzun. If I remember correctly, she had a group of British male dancers with her on stage. It was well performed but the song itself lacked something to make it memorable.

My favourite from 2005 is Ireland with “Every song is a cry for love” by Brian Kennedy. He has a perfect voice, the song itself has everything I want in a good song and I was hoping for it to win although I was not that keen on going back to Dublin for Eurovision.

Romania brought Mihai Traistariu and the song “Tornero”. Many people also had this high on their list for possible victory.


The entry from Ukraine was by someone called Tina Karol who sang “Show me your love”. I was lucky to get the full CD as well where she sings “Silent night” in the Ukraine language.

Greece had the OGAE meeting somewhere in a nice area. Morten and I went there together as he knew more or less where it was located. It was really nice and they had lots of food there for us to eat – but I was too nervous to eat anything. The voting was quite difficult for me as two clubs Netherlands and United Kingdom VOTED against Rest of the world and also 7 clubs abstained. But to my surprise we got wonderful support from Serbia, Poland and Norway in particular. Finally the vote went in our favour and I could not keep back the tears. Months of hard work finally paid off.
Due to the strange flight times of the airline, I had to go to the airport even before the final started. Actually half way through the flight to Johannesburg the captain announced that Finland had won the Eurovision song contest. It was a real surprise to me, I had in no way thinking Finland with Lordi would win.

A few weeks before Eurovision I had met Amanda Reynecke who wanted her son to record Eurovision songs and she especially was interested in many of the 2006 entries. We finally did a CD with her son, Dominec with no less than 15 Eurovision songs – of 15 different countries, most of them 2006 songs. Nobody else has ever done a CD with so many Euro covers and from so many different countries. In return for my help, she made a compilation CD with various Eurovision covers and so the first such compilation was born.The title of the full CD is “Dans ons op splinter glas” (Dancing on shattered glass) and it is the cover of the Russian entry of Dina Bilan 2006. All 15 tracks are also on promo singles.

Musically I had quite a lot of favourites
Ireland – Every song is a cry for love – Brian Kennedy
Sweden – Invincible – Carola
Denmark – Twist of love – Sidsel Ben Semmane
Estonia – Through my window – Sandra Oxenryd
Belgium – Kate Ryan – Je t’adore
Malta – Fabrizio Faniello – I do
Poland – Follow my heart – Ich Troje
Russia – Never let you go – Dima Bilan
Switzerland – If we all give a little – Six4one
Greece – Everything – Anna Vissi
2006 really also had a lot of horrors
Netherlands – Amanbanda – Treble
Latvia – I hear your heart – Vocal group Cosmos
Lithuania – We are the winners – Lt. united
Iceland – Congratulations – Silvia Night
Belarus – Mum – Polina Smolova


I was quite excited to attend Eurovision in Kyiv, my first real experience of a country in the old Soviet Union – I did not thought Estonia and Latvia were really presenting the Soviet experience. Ukraine has an embassy and so I visited it for the visa which went fairly smoothly. I cannot for the life of me remember with which airline I traveled there, there is no direct route so I must have gone via some other country but I just can’t figure out which. It may have been Turkish airline who had just started flying into South Africa or probably the Greek airline.

I arrived at the airport and was greeted by a lot of friendly volunteers, clearly happy that Eurovision came to their country. In 2005 I had not heard a single entry before coming to Eurovision and had no idea how the Ukraine entry sounded, but the volunteers seemed very happy with their country’s entry. Of course once I heard the song, I hated it even although there were words in many languages in the lyrics.

On my arrival, I also ran into the Austrian delegation who has just arrived with Global Kryner. I would have preferred them picking Nockalm Quintett (currently my top group) from the Volksmuzik genre.


Of course I was unable to get a single piece of Ukraine currency in South Africa and took UK pounds and US dollars. I went to the foreign exchange desk at the airport and the woman there had a book – she looked at each note I gave and whether this note was in the book. One 10 UK pound note was not in the book – I think the note was dated 1999, and she refused to exchange that saying they only except notes displayed in the book. Luckily I had enough other notes which she could turn into Ukraine money. I did not now that, otherwise I would have made sure before leaving South Africa that they gave me notes which were in the Ukraine book (obviously the book did not contain each and every year).

I waited at the airport for the arrival of my friend Armin Duttle from Switzerland. He came to his first Eurovision but first would go to his penfriend Sasha who lived 100 kilometers to the west of Kiev. Actually he wanted me to stay there as well but I did not feel like traveling 100 kilometers by train everyday to Eurovision.

Also arriving while waiting for Armin was Martti Immonen from Finland who came on crutches. He was helping Ukraine a lot during their first entry at Eurovision in Riga.

This was also the first time I met Graham Ridge and Mark. They had no idea how to get from the airport to the center of town. I walked around and asked and finally someone said there was a bus to take me, Armin, his Ukraine penfriend Sasha, Graham and Mark to the center free of charge since we came for Eurovision. My hotel, which Morten had booked, was ideally located, on the grounds of the venue. It is called Hotel “Sport”. This was the closest I had ever lived to the venue and it was actually just 500 meters to the press center and I actually walked often in between press conferences to the hotel to put my latest promo CD in the room.


I also had the best pigeonhole ever. Andy Mikheev had arrived before me and I think he had number 1. I had number 5 as they allocated pigeonholes as people arrive.

I had problems with accreditation as by now there were many people coming and they started dealing differently with people from non participating countries. Also the people from Ukraine I spoke to in Istanbul who promised to help, did not do it. I had to wait in a tent for several hours before they finally cleared my accreditation. I think I caught flu sitting there – it was quite cold and then fairly hot as I think the air con did not work properly.

Also making my accreditation difficult was something I did NOT know at the time, but the EBU had already accredited something like 12 people from SOUTH AFRICA who were coming the second week. There was a AFRICA VISION contest arranged in South Africa and Hi 5 from South Africa was the winners. It seemed the organizers of this event told HI 5 that they would be allowed as African winners to take part in Eurovision in Kyiv (which of course was not the case). But the EBU accredited the 5 singers from Hi 5 and their team as journalists to attend. So from being always the only person from South Africa, I was told that now there were a whole bunch of people so there were hardly any accreditation left. Hi 5 recorded a CD once they were back in South Africa and this CD contains no less than 6 Eurovision covers, including the 2005 winner of Greece.

We went through a lot of security check points and also there were a lot of police – this was so funny to me – these butch police men with fur hats on their heads and the higher their rank, the more fur they had. I loved stroking my hand through those fur and kept telling the police men this is so special (I had never seen in real life these fur hats because it is not really existing in South Africa where it is never that cold). The police men were all surprised that I love this fur hats – I think they did not really like it themselves. I am wondering if they still have this and if I would see it again in Kyiv this year?

The first morning in the hotel for breakfast was a nightmare for me – given the fact that there are many things I do not eat. I had been used to a buffet breakfast at previous Eurovisions where I could take food I eat even if it was the same thing all the time. Here they brought you breakfast in a plate. The plate was filled with different kinds of cheese, butter, eggs, and yogurt – 90% dairy products which I do not eat. I then discussed with the hotel and they asked what do I eat and so for the entire period, every morning I had fried chicken and chips for breakfast.

Sietse Bakker and his team from ESCToday were also staying in the same hotel.

Certain times of the day there were ice cream available for the press and delegations outside the venue. It was really nice.

I had not written about Fred Bronson before in these looking back posts. Fred debuted like me in 1995 with accreditation – he was from the United States of America and so in 1995 two people debuted from non participating countries. Fred made an immediately impact in 1995 since he was a free lance reporter from Billboard magazine and everybody at Eurovision knew this magazine. I was quite envious that I was not able to represent a media in South Africa that was so well known. Fred got all the promo items instantly and delegations even gave him other releases to promote in Billboard. Unlike me, Fred came every year visa free, and then came Ukraine and it was the first time he had to get a visa. I think he never had to get a visa for anything and did not really know the process but he failed to arrive in Kiev and we later discovered he started applying too late and did not get it in time. He ended up in Stockholm and watched it from there on TV. That was the last I had heard or seen of Fred.

Moldova debuted in Kyiv with the group Zdob [si] zdub and they introduced the first granny to the fans – some years later Russia brought a whole group of them.


The promo single of Cyprus singer Constantinos Christoforou “Ela ela (come baby)” was really nicely packed. It was so big and difficult to carry around and I was so happy I could take it instantly to my hotel room.


And FYR Macedonia did the same as Cyprus – packaged their promo single extremely interesting, but big and so I was also happy to rush “Make my day” by Martin off to my hotel instantly.


I also like the promo single of Bosnia & Herzegovina with the song in various languages – Bosnian, English, German, Danish, Turkish and Spanish. The song sounded a lot like Abba. We were told the three girls, Pamela Ramljak, Neda Parmac and Ivana Maric, who made up the group Feminnem were top 3 in the Croatian Idols. They also made everybody aware it was the 50th anniversary of Eurovision.


Lithuania had their best promo pack ever at Eurovision in Kiev. They handed some press a LAURA AND THE LOVERS bag with different things inside, among others the promo single but also a packet of condoms.




Greece has always presented their promo singles in a very special way and for Helena Paparizou with “My number one” the package opened like a BIG ONE.


Switzerland brought Vanilla Ninja with “Cool vibes”. They were a group girl group from Estonia who lost out a year or so before in the Estonian selection with a fantastic song “Club Kung fu”. This song was not as catchy.


Latvia had a duo Walters & Kazha with a song “The war is not over”. Such a pity that this song seems to have again a new meaning now with the current situation in parts of Ukraine. The duo performed the song on stage also with sign language.


Just like in Istanbul the previous year, there was a Nordic party again. This time, however, it was not a pool party but a Viking party and Ireland joined them.


Belarus brought Angelica Agurbash and she sang “Love me tonight”. There was some drama before Eurovision as she actually had another song in the selection but they decided to change the song. I was happy they did, as “Love me tonight” was a much better song. Angelica had a birthday during Eurovision and gave a huge party. There were rumours that the party cost 1 million euro. It was the biggest and most extravagant party I have ever seen. We were showered with gifts – I had lost count of what we all got. The food were fantastic and you would have fed an entire army. Angelica greeted the guests on arrival at the door. Pity this did not result in her qualifying for the final.


Some of the Angelica gifts were obvious music related, among them full CD’s and DVD’s.



The Kiev welcome party was also special – they had different tables and each table belonged to a certain country, so if you were interested in the Estonian delegation for example, you knew instantly where to find them. I left the party in a bus with the Turkish delegation who remembered me from Istanbul the previous year, In the bus was the Turkish group GULSEREN and they sang “Rimi rimi ley” for me as we drove back to the venue.




I also had quite an embarrassing moment. I was with Munro Forbes, who was working for Maltese TV and Chiara and we ran into a guy Munro knew. He introduced me to this guy and I cannot recall his name but I heard he was from Montenegro. It was the first ever time I had met someone from Montenegro and asked “Are you a journalist?” “No” he answered, “I am the singer”. I wanted the ground to swallow me as the people around us could not believe that I did not recognize this guy. But I had not heard or seen any of the 2005 songs prior to arriving in Kyiv and the entry that year for the combined Serbia & Montenegro was by a 6 piece male group called NO NAME and I had briefly seen the group and all of the 6 guys looked fairly similar to me. Luckily the guy did not mind, as he too had never met someone from South Africa. I got a NO NAME T-shirt which is really great and I still do wear it now and then.


I spent a lot of time with Munro during the rehearsal of Chiara who was there with “Angel” and he had to figure out what was the best way to present her seeing that she was alone on stage without any backing singers.


Norway fans were there in large numbers as they had WIG WAM who was very well-known and had many fans. I spent a lot of time with Morten in the city where Wig Wam were appearing. The song was okay, reminded me of the Sweet, but it was not a big favourite.


Romania’s group Luminita Anghel & Sistem gave a show in some square and it was well attended by press and fans. The song “Let me try” is quite good and was successfully covered in South Africa.


2005 had a big challenge for the stage people. Due to the draw, Romania and Norway were drawn one after the other and both had a lot of props in the form of instruments and drums who had to be put on stage and again taken away and you have only so much time allowed by the postcards.

Kyiv also had a really funny incident. Some sponsor of the contest brought their financial results on a CD and a box with them was left in the press conference room and someone discovered it and within a short time, many people had this CD, thinking it was the entry of some artist. By the time they discovered it was a CD with financial results, you saw heaps of them in the dust bins.

This was also the start of OGAE Rest of the world. At the OGAE meeting, Andy wanted to get OGAE Kazakhstan approved but they said no. They said all non participating countries should unite in one club. We then started the discussion on Rest of the world.

For the second year I bought the double Eurovision CD in the host city – the Ukraine pressing was really special with the track listing having the names of the countries in the Ukrainian alphabet.


The day I left the Ukraine volunteers gave me a present – they said I was the only press person to bring them sweets and stuff daily. I was quite touched by this gift from Ukraine and it is prominently displayed in my house.


In 2004 I liked mostly the songs by male singers, this time around, my favourites were mostly by girl groups.

The songs I liked most are
Bosnia & Herzegovina – Call me – Feminnem
Estonia- Lets get loud – Suntribe

For the second year in a row, my most hated song was that of the host country
Ukaine – Razom nas bahato, nas nye podolaty – Greenjolly

To read previous years go to esccovers


2004 saw the introduction of a semi final and so a longer period for Eurovision than just a week was needed. Many did not know it would be longer, like Morten and so he booked a flight just for the last week and was unable to cancel. I was able to cancel my flight (and pay the cancellation fee) and book a new one. I was there for the first week alone and lived in a certain hotel and then moved to the hotel I shared with Morten for the second week. My hotel was very nice but in another area. Istanbul was quite a shock to me, I have never seen so many people around and it was a struggle with my luggage on a train from the airport to the hotel through so many people.

I remember very little about my visa for Turkey so it must have been one of the few that went very smoothly. In 2004 Turkish airlines was not as yet flying to South Africa so I flew with Emirates via Dubai. Although the flight was nice, there was an 11 hour stop over in Dubai, and with no visa I had to sit all 11 hours in the airport. It was dreadful and I still do not know how I managed to get through 11 hours.

The food in Istanbul was a highlight and I had kebab from the morning to the evening, day after day, like chicken for breakfast, lamb for lunch and beef for supper. I however got very confused with the currency, the tons of ZEROS on the notes. After twice making a mistake by giving one zero note extra and the shops not correcting you and just keep the extra money, I started counting the notes with the zeros before handing them to the shops.

I can write pages on this Eurovision, the wonderful Nordic party at one of the big 5 star hotels where I met all 5 the Nordic artists. Each Nordic delegation was able to bring a few non Nordic people to the party and I was one of the few through Norway. After the party I took a ride in one of the delegation buses back to the venue with Max Mannola from Finland (one of the sweetest people I have ever met at Eurovision). From the venue I had a ride in a Istanbul bus to hotel which had at least 300 local people in and my feet did not touch the ground, I was literally hanging in the air between tons of people.


I also have to say the welcome party in Istanbul was just perfect – the setting where it took place – breathtaking! I ran into Linas and Simona who had a copy of their promo single with them to give to me. The song was composed by Michalis Antoniou (who was at the time OGAE president of Cyprus) and Linas.


FYR of Macedonia brought one of their superstars, TOSE PROESKI and his song “Life”. I met him and he was such a nice person. It was awful when he died tragically in a car crash.



Tose has touched the lives of many people and Andreas from Vienna is a huge fan and sent us a picture of his Tose CD collection


Another highlight was meeting DANNE ATTLERUD (Swedish composer but in Istanbul as the composer of the Norwegian entry). We are still friends to this day and I have been involved in helping him to get many of his songs covered in South Africa.


I also met up with SVEINN RUNAR SIGUDSSON(from Iceland) and his father who were there as composers for the Icelandic entry Heaven by Jonsi. And we are still friends today and this year I will be sitting in the venue with Sveinn’s parents and his sister. Sveinn’s wife is Ukrainian and he met her in Kyiv in 2005 and so I will also meet her family in Kyiv. I love “Heaven” but I still think it is an ugly promo package Iceland has brought to Eurovision (their promo packs almost every year makes my top 5).


I felt sick one day and it was the only time ever I used the services of the nurses on duty at Eurovision.

One of the highlights for me was an artist who sat in the press conferences and drew a picture of each artist and by the time the press conference was finished, he was able to hand the artist the drawing. He was so talented. I wonder if anybody took photo’s of those drawings? There was also a Turkish fan who gave each artist a piece of Turkish delight right after each press conference.


Slovenia gave us a fantastic promo CD of all the songs that year from EMA – it is a double CD with 16 tracks on each CD. If I remember correctly the duo of Platin got engaged one day during Eurovision when several press and delegations took a trip on a boat. I did not go as I am not found of boat trips.


Spain brought Ramon del Castillo who also came through Operacion Triumfo – they stressed to us in the press conference that he was this third representative for Spain from the Canary island – with Braulio from 1971 and Jose Velez from 1978.


Austria was there with three guys called TIE-BREAK and their song “Du bist” which many fans did not like.But they were such nice people, their press conference was great and they had a special tie for some of the press. The tie was cut in to and put together with a pin. I got a tie but gave it to a friend who collects ties.


And who can forget the introduction of SAKIS ROUVAS who took part in 2000 at the Olympic games in Athens? This somersault on stage was something I will never forget. He became a model for several companies, featuring in their ads like Pepsi and Vodaphone. This promo single is among my top 3 of all time – it looks like a denim jean with a pocket and the CD inside the pocket. Fantastic,Pity the song “Shake it” was a little too Michael Jackson for me but it suited him well.


Ukraine was there with Ruslana and she of course won and gave Ukraine their first victory. I cannot say that I am mad over “Wild dances”. However Ruslana came to South Africa some months after her win and became only the second winner after Vicky Leandros to come to South Africa.



Ruslana fans also got a note book with her logo on


How can I forget the song from Croatia “You are the only one” by Ivan Mikulic. It became my top song in 2004 even although there were so many I love. And who would have known then that many years later (in 2016) Sergey Lasarov will bring a song with the same title and his song also became my top song for that year?


Also Malta surprised me with their best song ever “On again … off again” – I regard this as the most catchy title ever of a Eurovision song and I remember Ralph Siegel commented this is one of the songs he would have liked to write himself.


The promo single of Latvia is probably my most loved promo single – not the shape or form of it, that is very ordinary – a normal paper single. But people who represented radio stations got a promo single with 9 DIFFERENT LANGUAGE versions – I think this is a record. On it is the song “Dziesma par laimi” in Latvian (of course) and 8 other language versions are Estonian, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Finnish and Dutch. The Dutch version has an interesting title called “Aap uit de mouw” and Sietse Bakker did the lyrics together with Rianna Raeven. I got this song covered in Afrikaans – pity I did not know of this project prior to Eurovision otherwise the original Latvian duo Formins & Kleins could have done it as well. This single for me is 100% what Eurovision is about, having a great song in many different languages.


With many more entries now, a double CD was released and it was the first time I bought it. I decided to buy it in the host city every year. Actually a friend of mine, John Jagodowski gave me money for my birthday and said I should use that for the Eurovision CD. It has now become tradition and every year I use the money from him for my birthday for the Eurovision double CD.

Morten fell ill on the day of the final and was unable to go to the venue and so I stayed with him in the hotel room and we watched it on TV.




In the hotel was also several Norwegian fans and they had to leave like 4 am for the airport to catch their flight. My flight was only in the evening and by the time I booked out, I had a nasty surprise. The hotel told me that I stayed an EXTRA day and so I was forced to pay for one more day. This was of course ridicilous but with the staff unable to really communicate in English I just paid the extra day.

I was home only a few days when I had a horror car accident and broke my arm and several ribs. It was a freak accident because I was on my scooter in a side street when two big trucks collided in the main street but the impact of the accident was so heavy that one truck was pushed into the side street and part of it fell on me and my scooter. I also got the flu and you can imagine how awful it was to cough with three broken ribs.

Music wise, my favourites were all songs by male singers
Croatia – You are the only one – Ivan Mikulic
Iceland – Heaven – Jonsi
Norway – High – Knut Anders Sorum
United Kingdom – Hold on to our love – James Fox
Malta – On again …off again – Ludwig & Julie

Actually many songs were likeable and it was one of the best Eurovisions music wise ever for me. My dislikes came in the form of
Turkey – For real – Athena
Estonia – Tii – Neikokoso
Germany – Can’t wait until tonight – Max
And the song that got zero points (the first in the new format), the horror of Switzerland – Celebrate – Piero & the music stars

To think that Piero had assembled with him people that came 2nd to 6th on a talent show in Switzerland was just unbelievable. I think this song generally rate among the lowest by Eurovision fans all over the world.





Having always wanted to go to the three Baltic states, I was able to see Estonia the previous year and now Latvia was next. Unfortunately it was another country without an embassy in South Africa. And as always, no direct flights. I decided to fly with AUSTRIAN AIRLINES via Vienna to Riga. As there was no daily flights to Vienna from Johannesburg as well as no daily flights from Vienna to Riga, it meant a 48 hour transit in Vienna on the way to Riga. I was not in the mood to spend that much time in an airport lounge and since I had a good penfriend in Vienna, I decided I will get off and stay with him. This meant a visa from Austria (Schengen). Well, what a nightmare. The day before I applied for the visa, a South African woman died on a plane between Johannesburg and Vienna and did not have enough insurance and this got the AUSTRIAN embassy to look at applications for visas in much more detail and require bigger health and medical insurance. But also due to the fact that I was staying with a friend, they wanted to see this person’s Meldesetter – never heard of that before. It took 6 weeks before my visa was issued and I got it the day before I had to depart. The Latvian government (who was not part of Schengen at that time) and the Latvia broadcaster came to my rescue and said I could enter Latvia visa free since I had the BALTIC VISA for 2002 through their embassy in the Netherlands. They would have officials waiting for me the Sunday at the airport and escort me into the country but there is a fee of 20 euro for this service. So arriving there, these people waited for me and I felt like a top VIP being escorted into the country and to my hotel by these people. From that moment, Latvia became my most loved country of Europe – never before a country did this for me, an ordinary SA citizen. Also the Latvian entry for that year, HELLO FROM MARS was so beautiful.

2003 proved to be quite a special year. Latvian TV, like Estonian TV the previous year, gave me also a ticket for the final but since I do not like attending the live shows, I swapped it with an ordinary Latvian citizen in exchange for a Latvian CD. This guy was so excited to be able to attend Eurovision in his home country.

I also had one scary incident. Morten was out for the evening to something (I can’t even remember) and I decided to walk to a shopping center to buy something nice to nibble on. I took a short cut through a tunnel underneath the big road and inside this tunnel was a drug addict who suddenly started shouting at me and began chasing me. I ran and luckily some other people came into the tunnel and shouted at this drug addict to leave me alone. I then discovered that you could be in danger no matter in what country you are.

In the hotel was a guy who carried my luggage up to my room. We got chatting and I discovered he was well educated but not able to find a job in Latvia. I recommended to him to try South Africa as his qualifications were in high demand in South Africa. A year or so later, I heard from him – he was in South Africa and employed at one of the universities in Pretoria.

Norway was back at Eurovision after not qualifying in 2002 and they had Jostein Hasselgard, a 24 year old singer. Originally they thought he had a limited possibility to win the national final but he took the country by storm with his laid-back yet genuine performance and during the tele-voting there was never any doubt that he would be the winner.

Ralph Siegel was again at Eurovision, this time with Lou and “Let’s get happy”.

Russia had t.A.T.u and one of my biggest hates. I refused to attend the press conference and missed out on the promo single. OGAE Norway, however, bought it for me on some auction.


I don’t think I need to write a lot about the United Kingdom entry “Cry baby” by the duo Jemini. The UK fans really did CRY after this, giving the UK its worth placement at that stage in Eurovision. Now I quite like the song although not a top favourite.

Belgium brought Urban Trad with “Sanomi” in some non existing language and this was another song I hated but did so well on the night.

Sweden brought even more FAME to themselves by sending Fame with “Give me your hart” which still is a classic to me. For some reason (which I cannot recall now) I did not really meet the duo personally.


And then there was Poland bringing Ich Troje and “Keine grenzen”, 100% the kind of song I like – many language in one. Ich Troje was a totally new name to me but I then discovered especially the lead singer Michal Wisniewski was extremely famous in Poland and I saw all the pictures of him on the covers of various magazines. We were also told at the press conference that they gave something like 300 concerts in crowded stadiums in the past 2 years.


Ukraine debuted this year and they brought Olexandry with “Hasta la vista”, which I like a lot. I also attended the party organized by Ukraine with the help of Martti Immonen from Finland. This song turned out to be the ONLY Ukraine enter ever to make my top 10.


A nice touch was that Latvia invited kids from orpanages and such institutions to attend the rehearsals.

Flying back home from Riga, my flight on Austrian airlines to Vienna departed the Monday and guess who sat on the plane next to me? It was Alf Poier, the Austrian singer. He was surprised about my knowledge of Austrian music but remarked that it seems I know only the Schlager side (which of course is true). He was happy with his position at Eurovision.


Musically 2003 was a fantastic year with no less than 3 songs getting 10 out of 10 from me
Sweden – Give me your love – Fame
Poland – Keine grenzen – Ich Troje
Latvia – Hello from Mars – F L Y

But Eurovision won’t be Eurovision without songs I hate as well and it also brought songs who got 0 out of 10 from me
Russia – He bepb he boncr – t.A.T.u.
Belgium – Sanomi – Urban trad

To read previous years go to esccovers



I hated the 2001 winner from Estonia but was delighted to go there – I have always wanted to go to the three Baltic States but due to politics, South African citizens were not able to travel there until 1995 or so. Now I was able to go to the first one. It was my first Eurovision to a country without an embassy in South Africa and so problems to get the visa. Estonia made a special arrangement for to me to pick up a Baltic visa at the Latvian embassy in De Hague on my stopover there before I flew onto Tallinn.

Estonia also made me feel really special and even gave me a free VIP ticket for the final. I do not really like sitting inside the venue but I did and once the performances were over, I rushed out to follow the voting on the big screen inside the press hall.

In the press hall was free beer as a beer company was one of the sponsors.

We had a wonderful hotel; the people were so special and so hard working. The woman at reception misspelled by surname by writing it as one word instead of three loose words and she said they are not allowed to make such mistakes and I got one night stay in the hotel for FREE. Across the street from our hotel was Stockman, the Finnish chain store and I bought some CD’s there.

Personally I regard Tallinn as one of the best places to stay. We had many invitations to the various embassies and at one embassy (it was the Latvian embassy), Morten and I were the first guests and so we have a long chat with the ambassador. In the old city there were also various parties organised by some of the countries and people sort of jump from one party to the next (I think one night there were three parties at the same time and close to one another).

I predicted Latvia to win after seeing the stunning and surprising performance. It is not one of my favourite songs, but already by then Eurovision moved away from a SONG CONTEST more to a PERFORMANCE CONTEST due to tele-voting. Even 4 days before the final, the Latvian head of delegation wrote in my passport “See you in Riga next year”.

Macedonia had a special promo single packed very interesting. A local singer Jenny Kirsten covered the Estonian entry of that year song and packed her single in a similar way (just more African).

Greece brought Michalis Rakintzis with a song called “S.A.G.A.P.O”. Besides the lovely promo single, Michalis gave me also a full CD


Spain had high hopes this year – they has a whole selection over several weeks and in the end Rosa with “Europe’s living a celebration” won and came to Tallinn. I was very disappointed with the song, I expected so much better. It was also the biggest group of Spanish fans I had seen at Eurovision.

Ralph Siegel was also back, and this time with “I can’t live without music” by Corinna May who won the selection a few years earlier with a song but was then disqualified. This song was catchy but totally wrongly performed.

Slovenia rocked the boat by sending Sestre with their song “Samo Ljubezen” and we attended a party hosted by them.

Switzerland brought Francine Jordi. I had known her already with especially songs from the Grand prix of Volksmuzik. The song was good but they entered with the French version and I thought the English and German versions were better choices.

Malta nearly won when Ira Losca, while singing “7th wonder” threw star dust during her performance and surprised people.

Denmark brought a strange CD with 20 tracks on – it was recorded live at Martinez Ballroom on 22 January. They thought I would like it since it contains Safri duo with their song BAYA BAYA. To be honest besides Safri duo, I have never heard of any of the 19 other artists in this CD and have never played it as well. But being a collector, it has a spot in my CD collection.


As the venue was outside the city center, we went there every day in a shuttle bus and all the time we traveled with some delegation and artists and have really great personal contact.

Musically I like the following songs
Israel – Light a candle – Sarit Hadad
Estonia – Runaway – Sahlene
Cyprus – Gimme – ONE
France – Il faut du temps – Sandrine Francois
Malta – 7th wonder – Ira Losco
Switzerland – Dans le jardon de mon ame – Francine Jordi

Interesting is that there were actually no song I hate – a few were just average
United Kingdom – Come back – Jessica Garlick
Russia – Northern girl – Prime minister
Spain – Europe’d living a celebration – Rosa
To read previous years go to esscovers



Another Nordic country and so I was delighted. Due to the accommodation problems I had in Stockholm, from this time onwards, I started to share a hotel with my friend Morten from Norway and I have to specially thank him for being such a wonderful friend over the years – we have been at Eurovision together since 1995. Our hotel was close to Tivoli, one of my favourite attractions in Europe and we even had a party there one evening and all rides were free to people with accreditation. Where Birmingham was my worst Eurovision, Copenhagen did not rank high with Morten. Firstly he loves attending Eurovision in new countries and Denmark is a neighbour and a place he had been several times. He also did not get the same press accreditation as me. The venue was the biggest and quite far from our hotel. Morten actually walked most mornings to the venue but I took the delegation bus which started quite close to our hotel.

I had a slight delay with my accreditation as the Danish woman who had to sign the form was quite busy and so I had to wait until she could come to the accreditation office, signed the form and had my accreditation badge printed. I missed the first 3 press conferences as I was unable to enter the press center without my accreditation.

Concerning the promo singles, most countries continued to bring special singles but I was extremely disappointed with Denmark having a single without a cover.

Spain brought David Civera and he sang a song called “Dile que la quiero” written by Alejandro Abad. At the press conference Dabid told us he is a passionate fan of singers like Elton John and Madonna. Besides the promo single, I also got a full CD of David from the delegation. I, however, have to confess that I have never listened to any of the other tracks (this is anyway not unusual as I normally listen just to one song from a full CD).


By now I have been involved in several covers of Eurovision songs in South Africa. Due to the fact that more and more fans now were coming to Eurovision with accreditation and due to the cost, delegations brought less copies, I thought it was time to produce a special CD from South Africa to swap for promo singles that were difficult to get. One of the record companies produced a special CD that looked like the same of Africa (in the colours of the South African flag) and many people wanted this. I, however, had just 10 copies as it was quite expensive to produce and so swapped it for promo CD’s that were hard to get.

I was very disappointed with the winner, the song from Estonia was in the bottom 5 of my rankings, but I was extremely happy to finally be going to my first Baltic country. It was, however, interesting to me that one of the members of the Estonian entry was born in an exotic country, Aruba.

Coming back from Eurovision, I moved house and in the move I lost my 2001 accreditation badge (I have all the others but this one is missing and although I have search many years for it without success).

My favourites from 2001 are
Sweden – Listen to your heartbeat – Friends
France – Je n’ais que mon ame – Natasha St-Pier
Turkey – Sevgiliye son – Sedat Yuce
Malta – Another summer night – Fabrizio Faniello
Greece – Die for you – Antique

And those I did not like are
Lithuania – You got style – Skamp
Estonia – Everybody – Tanel Padar & Dave Benton
Portugal – So sei ser feliz assim – M T M

To read previous years go to esccovers