Dutch singer Bonny St Claire (later known as Bonnie St Claire) found fame in her homeland in the late 1960s and her I surrender has made her a favourite of the Mod scene internationally.
She was born Cornelia Swart on 18 November 1949 in Rozenburg, near Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.
At 17, while working as a typist, she joined the all-girl trio, De Topsy’s.
Her chance for fame came in 1967 when she was discovered by Peter Koelewijn at a concert given by his group, Peter and the Rockets, after he asked for a volunteer from the audience to accompany him on stage. He engineered a solo contract for the young singer. The pair also became romantically involved.
Her debut solo single, the sexually charged Tame me tiger, was released in 1967 on the Ariola label under her new stage name, Bonny St Claire. The single featured backing by the group the Jets. She also issued the song in Germany, as the first of a string of releases.
She switched to the Dutch-based Philips label for her next single, the almost Christmassy-sounding Come home, issued in 1969. Tucked away on the B-side was what is considered by many as her best work of the 1960s, I surrender. With a
stomping beat, the song has become a firm
favourite on the Mod scene.
In 1969 she released the choral-flavoured
Don't let me down.
It was swiftly followed by Let me come back
home, Mama, a strong example of late 60s
folk-influenced pop. The single gave her Bonny
her first big hit and was deemed good enough
for release in the US. The Bee Gees-penned
Marley Purt Drive was included as the B-side
of both the Dutch and American releases.
In 1970 she took part in the Knokke song
festival in Belgium with I won’t stand between
them, which she issued as a single at home
under the new spelling of her name, Bonnie St
She also took part in that year’s Dutch national contest to choose a song for the Eurovision song contest. (The pan-European pop fest had a particularly high profile in the Netherlands that year, as Amsterdam was playing host.) Sadly, however, her Manna, penned by Peter Koelewijn, finished joint last, having scored no points. (Girl group Hearts of Soul went on to represent the country that year.)
She bounced back with 1970’s I’ll write your name through the fire, 1971’s I won’t stand between them and 1972’s Manaña manaña.
She is best remembered in her homeland for her work with the group Unit Gloria in the 1970s, particularly with the huge 1972 hit Clap your hands and stamp your feet.
She is still a popular figure in the Netherlands and often makes television appearances. She is also known for liking a drink or two.