Francis BayBorn: December 27th, 1914, Rijkevorsel (Belgium)
Died: April 24th, 2005, Bonheiden (Belgium)
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