It has come to my attention that Gerd-Jan Vleugels has passed away at the age of 44 due to thyroid cancer on Aug. 2nd. I am shocked that he is not around anymore, aged 44 years is way too soon to depart from this planet.
I first met him in the mid-80’s when he was running his own mag Metal Empire while I was running Headbanger, we were competitors in a way but we always got along great, we tended to run into each other at shows or press junkets (if that’s what you can call them) in Amsterdam and so forth and always exchanged ideas and pleasantries
I remember when Gert Jan and I met up in the summer of 1986 and combined our efforts going to Middelburg in the province of Zeeland in The Netherlands to cover Joshua (Joshua Perahia’s band) who had released the album Surrender the year prior. Ken Tamplin was the second guitar player in that line-up. They were also demoing Intense Defense in Germany at Dierks Studios. I will try and dig some shots out in due course.
Headbanger was getting more difficult to run in 1987 (I was in the military) and we talked about merging both mags and give Aardschok a tickle of their own fancy but there was a third party involved who was not up for this idea, so it did not happen.
The other story that has sprung to my mind was at Aardschokdag in 1987 (I think) which I covered for BURRN! Magazine from Japan, when Megadeth were headlining along with Flotsam & Jetsam and Testament, Dave Mustaine was using heavily in those days and the EMI press liaison had a lot of difficulty trying to get Dave to do a press conference (he would not do singular interviews), so we all sat there and 4/5 questions in Dave Mustaine was in anything but a cooperative mood. At the same time I realised I had left my camera bag inside the adjoining room so I excused myself and looked out for my camera bag, by the time I had located it Gert Jan was there as well, and told me what a dick Dave Mustaine was for being so uncooperative and refused to answer certain questions, so I did not return to the press conference and we hit the bar instead.
Later that night during Megadeth’s show Dave Mustaine was taking a cheap shot against the press during his show, probably because of that particular press conference. He seemed to have forgotten that 95% of the people there were part of the heavy metal press that had supported him and his band since starting Megadeth.
Gert Jan and I lost track of each other in the 90’s as I had moved to Italy only for me to find him again 6/7 years ago.
Gert Jan Vleugels was an excellent writer who had a lot of knowledge especially when it came to melodic hard rock bands and he joined Aardschok in 1988 as a writer covering them. In 2006 he left Aardschok Magazine to begin a new chapter in the dance scene and wrote for various magazines in The Netherlands.
The good ones always seem to die young and the world has become more boring without you m8, R.I.P.!!!