Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bles Bridges

Bles Bridges (22 July 1947, Viljoensdrif, Free State) – 24 March 2000), born Lawrence John Gabriel Bridges, was a much-loved South African singer. He became known as Bles Bridges, as his Irish grandfather called him Bles (i.e. bald), due to his very thin hair from an early age.
He released his first album in 1982, Onbekende Weermagman (Unknown Soldier). His professional career began in 1984, with the release of his second album, Bles, which went gold in under a month (25,000 copies) and included Maggie, one of his better-known songs. The album had sold twice that by the time his third album was released. At the time of his death, Bles had sold more than two and a half million albums (records and CDs).
Soon Bles Bridges began alternating between Afrikaans and English language albums, to great acclaim. He also began working with Eurovision South Africa. In 2000, he began recording an album with his friends in the music industry. The first song - a duet with Patricia Lewis (and his last song as it turned out, as he died within a week of finishing it) - was "The First Kiss Goodnight" by Dennis East; it was recorded on 21 March 2000.
In the 1980s, he held a concert in support of the AWB Volkshulpskema (People's Help Scheme) that raised 10,000 Rand (he was there as an artist, and by personal belief).
He had cancer during the 1980s and gave generously to charity for cancer research after his recovery.
His wife Leonie was his sound engineer and the composer and/or songwriter of most of his songs, including most of his biggest hits, including "Maggie" and "I am the Eagle, you're the Wind", among others.
His biggest hit was "Ruiter van die Windjie" (Rider of the Wind), which was released in 1986.
He loved life and roses, and it was his custom to hand out roses to some of the female audience members in the front row at his concerts.
His career highlight was when he performed to a soldout "Superbowl" at Sun City, five times on one weekend, becoming the first and only artist to do so, as feature artist on 14 and 15 May 1987. He actually managed to draw a bigger crowd than Frank Sinatra did when he opened the Super Bowl in 1982.
Bles died in a motorcar accident on 24 March 2000, leaving behind his wife, Leonie, and children Sunette and Victor. More than 15,000 mourners turned up for his funeral.

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