In 2005 René renewed his connection with John Denver, the singer and songwriter who in his earlier years had inspired him the most. Along with Arno he travelled to Colorado, USA, and played at the John Denver Memorial Event in Aspen - the home of the late singer. The combination of John Denver songs and René’s own compositions so impressed the audiences in Aspen that he received an invitation to perform in the United Kingdom.
Between 2006 and 2012 he travelled to England on many different occasions, sometimes with the band, sometimes on his own.
René’s first performance in England was at the Friends of John Denver Day in 2006 and it was a huge success. As a result, he was pleased to be invited to return in 2007 and was excited to announce that he would do so ‘with the full band’. In the event the guys rocked the village hall in Walton on the Hill, Stafford, with a selection of John Denver songs, as well as René’s own compositions and various cover songs.
René continued to share his precious time and his enormous talent with friends in England every year, performing at venues in Norwich, Staffordshire and Cambridgeshire. These performances utterly endeared him to his English audiences, as he delighted them with his truly inimitable style of song-writing and musicianship.
René was always very willing to include special requests in his set lists, one of which was ‘Love can Break Away’, a song he performed during his first UK concert. It was requested for his second concert, and after that he was to include it in many others. He was also happy to learn new songs. It was through his visits to England that he was first introduced to the songs of Dave Mallett, the American singer/songwriter. Two of Dave’s songs, ‘Red, Red Rose’ and ‘Summer of my Dreams’ he learned especially for a party. In fact he performed three very special concerts at parties, entertaining his friends with selections of 60s songs, along, naturally, with his own compositions. René’s compilation of Elvis songs became a regular favourite at his UK concerts. He said that he always enjoyed playing to English audiences, simply because they listened to his songs..........as opposed to the audiences in his own country who would quite often talk throughout performances - mainly those he undertook at weddings and in restaurants. There were, of course, many gatherings in Holland too where people listened carefully to his music, such as Denver Days, occasional concerts, themed church services and CD presentations.
His friends in England always found it a great pleasure to spend quality time with René – sharing their homes with him, sightseeing together and getting to know the man behind the music. It was never really possible for him to spend more than one night away from home, but they all made the most of the short time they had in his company. Despite the distance from Holland to the UK, René was always fully committed, to the extent that, even following major surgery, he travelled to England in May 2012, in order to perform what was to become his final UK concert. René described his feelings about his forthcoming trip in the song, ‘Heading for the UK’........
’But the decision made and I head for the UK
And you know how I love to play
Share my dreams, my song, my spirit seems so strong
That it makes me travel on.’
René’s strength and determination were an inspiration to all his friends. He touched their souls with his music and their hearts with his very existence.
His music will always be kept alive.