The Belgian poet Hugo Claus has died, according to newspaper reports. At this time it feels right to point out that Mr Claus was not only a great poet, but also a man who made an entire national ESC selection go belly-up once.
After the 1983 fiasco, where the booing of the audience almost made it impossible to reprise the winning song, Flemish television decided to abolish the national final of 1985 and select a song internally instead. They still wanted some kind of competition and appointed a composer and a performer, opera singer Mireille Capelle, but invited several authors to write lyrics. BRT made a list of eligible lyricists and the hunt for words was on.
However, without being on the list, Hugo Claus submitted a lyric, and Mireille Chapelle, possibly sensing the scoop, decided to refuse to sing any other version of the song. The Claus way or the highway.
The highway, decided BRT, clearly annoyed by the tampering of the rules. They abandonded the entire project, dropped everyone involved and had two co-workers write a song with very short notice instead. "Laat me nu gaan", the replacement song, placed last in Gothenburg, and in 1987, the Flemish national final was back on track again.
Rest in peace, Hugo Claus.
Linda Lepomme - Laat me nu gaan - Belgium 1985