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Jean-Marie Aerts (72), guitarist TC Matic, passed away

The musician, who was the right-hand man of Arno, who died in April 2022, for many years, was a producer of more than two hundred Belgian and international albums. He was behind the buttons for bands such as Urban Dance Squad, Absynthe Minded, De Kreuners, Jo Lemaire, Raymond van het Groenewoud, Luc Van Acker and The Scabs.

Aerts remained active until the end. In 2022 he released his first solo album in twenty years with Domeztik. Last year he provided the music for Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s recent dance performance Exit above.

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Aerts was born in Zeebrugge. Before he became a musician, he first studied medicine – his father was a doctor – and film at Rits. Both directions turned out not to be for him, so he devoted himself fully to music. “I met people in Brussels and ended up in the artistic environment,” he said in Humo in 2022. “Not much later I ended up in Leuven. Everyone was sitting there, all kinds of things were happening and there was constant jamming in the cafes. The Leuven scene has been very important.”

The success of TC Matic

Aerts met Raymond van het Groenewoud and Johan Verminnen there. “From Verminnen I went to TC Matic, which was a surprise to many people: from an artist who was starting to make a name for himself to the experimental and unknown TC Matic. Everyone thought: now we have lost him,” said Aerts.

He saw TC Matic play for the first time in the Alma in Leuven. “I thought that was great, how those guys dared,” Aerts said in Humo. “It got me. But I saw that Paul (guitarist Paul Decoutere, ed.) was not feeling well, something was not right. Afterwards in the dressing room he said that he was quitting. And then I offered myself. The first rehearsal was an immediate success.”

TC Matic existed for “four-five years”, according to Aerts. During that period, the group released four albums with singer Arno, with Yé Yé as the last album in 1985. The group scored many hits, including ‘O la la la’ and ‘Putain putain’. After TC Matic’s split, Arno asked him to play guitar on his solo albums. Until Arno preferred to do business with someone else. “I especially had difficulty with the way I was pushed aside,” Aerts said in Humo. “I decided not to do that. It felt like I had gotten a right from Mike Tyson, I fell to my knees.”

Both cancer

They lost sight of each other, but in 2009 they spoke briefly at Theater Aan Zee in Ostend, where Arno was then the central guest. Ultimately, a TC Matic reunion would never happen, no matter how much concert organizers such as Herman Schueremans (Rock Werchter) and Kurt Overbergh (AB) insisted.

“We have been calling regularly again lately,” Aerts said in Humo in 2022. “He found out through (photographer, ed.) Danny Willems that I also had cancer – of the prostate. (…) What Arno had, pancreatic cancer, is of course of a different caliber. But so we called. Just chat, chat. Not too long.”

Jean-Marie Aerts lived in Aarschot, where he made music in his home studio.


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