THE NETHERLANDS – Exactly 52 years ago today, Lenny Kuhr played with her guitar on the stage of the Eurovision Song Contest in Madrid. With De Troubadour she conquered the hearts of the public: she got 18 points and ended up in joint first place, together with France, Spain and the United Kingdom. She had bought the instrument, a light brown copy of the Swedish brand Lewin, in the shop of Mr Van Erp in Eindhoven, the man who taught her the intricacies of guitar playing as a young girl.
Kuhr, 19 years old at the time, got into a relationship with a man named Jaap after her win. After a number of years, that relationship ended and she lost sight of her ex. What else turned out to be lost? The conscious guitar. Almost fifty years later, the singer received an unexpected email, Kuhr tells the organization of the Song Contest today.
“Els, Jaap’s wife, emailed to say that Jaap had passed away. While clearing his room, she found a guitar wrapped in plastic. Jaap had told Els that this was my guitar. Els was therefore convinced that this was the guitar with which I won the Eurovision Song Contest at the time. She wanted to return these to me. I met Els at a terrace in Amsterdam. The guitar she showed me there was a lot darker. I doubted. Still, I took the guitar with me. Once at home I was convinced: this is not him, this is a new guitar from the Yamaha brand.”
Kuhr was afraid to tell the widow that it was not the famous Troubadour guitar. What if her childhood sweetheart had made up the story? Not much later she received another phone call from Els: she had found another guitar, tucked away in a corner.
“The guitar I saw at the time was a lot darker than I could remember. The guitar had deep cracks on both sides, but it did have my guitar teacher’s nameplate on it. I had it cleaned and checked by a luthier who compared the grain structure of the cover sheet with photos of Madrid. And yes: this was the guitar with which I won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1969.”
The reunion provides new inspiration for the album that she is currently recording at the Excelsior Recordings studio, Kuhr said. She plays the instrument on the album and there is also a reference to De Troubadour, in one of the new songs, but how is still a secret.
Kuhr will perform this year during the final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday 22 May, where she will be part of the Rock The Roof performance with other, iconic former Eurovision winners.