It's not every day that you buy a pre-war instrument from the daughter of the original owner. And certainly not with such a particularly well-documented story!
Some time ago, we received an email from the family inquiring if we were interested in a Kalamazoo KG-32. This particular vintage guitar belonged to their father, Harry Kluft. Included in the e-mail were several photos of the Kalamazoo and black and white photos of Harry with the instrument.
Band "de Haïti eilanders (around 1940)" with Annie Palmen.
One of the best things about a vintage guitar is the story behind the instrument. I invited Harry's daughter and son-in-law to visit our store in Rijsbergen with the Kalamazoo. During the visit the best stories about the instrument were revealed.
After Harry Kluft had bought his beloved Kalamazoo guitar in The Hague in 1939, the war broke out in May 1940. It was a difficult time for musicians, as strict rules applied to performances. Bands had to meet certain conditions, such as avoiding English names and not playing English or American repertoire. In 1940, Harry decided to form a band with the innocent name "de Haïti Eilanders," playing in a Hawaiian style and performing with flower garlands around their necks. Later, the band changed its name to the ‘Zingende Transvalers’. This name was allowed because of its historical significance: the South African Transvaal Boers were in conflict with the English between 1880 and 1902. In both bands Annie Palmen performed as a singer.
Not long after liberation, Harry and his band had the opportunity to perform for the Canadian liberators. These soldiers needed entertainment and were generous with money and drink. Harry even received an old motorcycle as a gift from them.
A highlight of his career was performing with "The Charivarians" band in Luxembourg during the New Year's Eve celebrations in December 1946. This performance required a lot of preparation and organization. In the contract Harry signed, it was clearly stated that the band members had to behave nicely and, in addition to the music, also raise the party mood through singing. The trip to Luxembourg was made by train.
Part of the performance was broadcast live on Radio Luxembourg, a popular station that was also well received in the Netherlands. This significantly increased the band's fame. Besides "The Charivarians," Harry also played in other bands, such as the "Rythme Quartet" and "Kluft's Soloists New Jive Orchestra.
Thanks to the gigs, Harry made so much money at the time that he could afford custom-made "work clothes" at the tailor's.
Harry passed away in 2010 and in consultation with the family we decided to exhibit the Kalamazoo with photos in our store. Harry Kluft's son-in-law, Jan Geerling, has created a website in memory of his father-in-law, which can be viewed at; this link.
Kalamazoo KG-32 1938.
Stickers on the case.
Kalamazoo KG-32 Headstock.