With sunglasses on and with loud singing, about twenty men walk at a brisk pace from Breda to Roosendaal on Friday. They are on their way to Zegestede cemetery in Roosendaal, where Jack de Nijs, better known as singer Jack Jersey, is buried. With their pilgrimage, the men want to honor the Roosendaal singer who died in 1997.
“It’s going very well. The weather is super nice and it’s fun,” says Albert Meeuwissen. He is one of the men who will complete the journey on Friday. We speak to him at the end of the afternoon, when the group has just passed Rucphen. Another two miles to Jack Jersey’s grave. “It was a bit of a walk, but we had some stops in between. Then it’s fine to do.”
The walker, like the rest of the group, enjoys listening to Jack Jersey’s music. “I’m a very big fan of his,” says Albert. “His music brings a lot of joy. It is also a kind of melancholy for me, because my parents used to play his music all the time.”
“He has sold twenty million records and had 74 hits in the Top 40.”
That is not the only reason that the men decided to walk about twenty kilometers. Two years ago, fans tried to get a statue of Jack Jersey in Roosendaal with a petition. The municipality then rejected that. “We thought that was very strange, because he is such an incredibly great artist,” explains Ger Thijssen. He is the initiator of the pilgrimage.
“The man has sold twenty million records and had 74 hits in the Top 40. Those are numbers that Guus Meeuwis, with all due respect, cannot imagine in his life.” The fans therefore decided: if that statue does not come, then there will be a pilgrimage. “And so said, so done,” says Ger with a smile on his face.
The men walked through Etten-Leur, Sprundel and Rucphen, among others. They make a few stops along the way. They listen to music while enjoying a beer. “At every café or resting place there was music from Jack.”
“It’s going to be a beautiful evening.”
With a few beers behind the teeth, the atmosphere is good at the end of the afternoon. But that doesn’t detract from their pace. With a firm step, the men get closer and closer to their final goal. “We will put a beautiful bunch of flowers at his grave. Jack’s sister will come, just like some artists who have worked with him,” says Ger.
When the men arrive at the grave, the artist’s song “At the End of It All” is played. They take a moment to pay tribute to Jack, then each grab a can of beer as they talk about the trip. “It is a great pity that the municipality of Roosendaal does not recognize who she had in her municipality. We must cherish this artist,” says Ger.
With their arrival at the tomb, the journey is over, but the evening is not yet. The fans go to a café in Roosendaal. “Here comes an old soundman from Jack, who has old original music tapes. He’s going to sing Jack’s songs. It’s going to be a very nice evening.”
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