Francis Bay

Born: December 27th, 1914, Rijkevorsel (Belgium)
Died: April 24th, 2005, Bonheiden (Belgium)
Nationality: Belgian

Francis Bay (pseudonym for Frans Bayezt) studied clarinet and music theory in Mechelen and Amsterdam. Moreover, he learnt to play the trombone, guitar, and saxophone as well. During his days as a student, he developed a penchant for jazz and entertainment music. He lived in the Netherlands until 1948, performing in the orchestras of Paul Godwin, Boyd Bachman, and Dick Willebrands, as well as being member of the popular entertainment ensembles The Ramblers and The Skymasters. Beside his work as a performing musician, he composed and arranged music for big bands and penned film scores. Upon his return in Belgium, he started arranging music for Flemish radio. In ’54 he formed his own combo, with which he won the 1955 Golden Gondola of Venice Festival.

From 1956 until 1980, he was the musical director of the Entertainment Orchestra of the Flemish broadcaster NIR (later renamed BRT), later known as the BRT Big Band, working for radio, and, from 1965 onwards, exclusively for television. With his orchestra, he performed in hundreds of BRT programmes and accompanied the most popular artists of the day (most notably perhaps Jo Leemans), making him a celebrity in Flanders. Moreover, he composed much of the music for BRT entertainment shows himself. He made several international tours with the orchestra.

Bay’s big band performed on the 1958 World Fair in Brussels. The daring arrangements attracted the attention of an American journalist who dubbed him: “The leader of one of the wildest big band ensembles of the space age pop era”. His modern versions of compositions by Glenn Miller, Count Basie, and other jazz icons were recorded by Philips (Europe) and the jazz label Omega (USA). Some of the best-remembered recordings include ‘Tequila’, the cha-cha ‘Tea for two’, and ‘Eso es el amor’.

Francis Bay and his orchestra were the usual accompanists of the Flemish Eurovision heats; subsequently, Bay travelled to the contest with the winners of these pre-selections. From 1959 until 1979, he conducted nine Belgian entries, with a sixth position (in 1959) as the best result amongst those songs.

In due course, a more extensive biography of Francis Bay will be published on this website


Songs conducted
1959: Hou toch van mij
1961: September, gouden roos
1963: Waarom
1967: Ik heb zorgen
1969: Jennifer Jennings
1971: Goeie morgen, morgen
1973: Baby, baby
1975: Gelukkig zijn
1979: Hey nana