Arno, the Belgian Tom Waits
With his recognizable hoarse voice, Arno is a Belgian singer with an outstanding career.
Singer, composer, performer and actor, Arnold Charles Ernest Hintjens, also known as Arno, was born in Ostend on the 21st of May 1949. By the end of the sixties, he takes his very first steps on stage. He then forms a duo with his side-kick Paul Couter in 1970. The band later grows to become Freckle face for a few years. However, it is under the name of “TC Matic”, in the eighties, that he acquires an European notoriety. “TC Matic” will produce hit songs, such as “Putain putain” or “Elle adore le noir”.
In 1986, Arno embarks on a solo career, singing sometimes in English, French, or in Dutch. Thanks to his participation in different projects, such as the soundtrack of the movie “Merci la vie”, he gains popularity among the French-speaking public. Progressively, the singer will write more and more songs in French.
Arno has the habit of doing covers of classics of French music in his own style, sometimes doing rock, sometimes singing in a rhythm and blues style. From Jacques Brel to Nino Ferrer, or even David Bowie, he offers to make us rediscover well-known songs, such as “Les filles du bord de mer” originally by Adamo.
Parallel to this international success, the signer keeps on proudly representing Belgium. In his 2007 album Jus de Boxe, he sings for example a text written in a dialect from Ostend, his hometown. He is also very attached to the city of Brussels where he settled over thirty years ago. For each of his tours, Arno does a concert in the Ancienne Belgique, in the heart of the city. He even recorded a live album there, Live in Brussels, in 2005.
This is why the city of Brussels has decided to name Arno honorary citizen during a ceremony that wil take place at the end of Septembre 2017. This honorary title intends to celebrate the notoriety of the artist. He rejoins other celebrities such as le Grand Jojo, Jean Van Hamme or Simone Veil in the list of honorary citizens.
He worked with artists as varied as Julien Doré, Axelle Red and Stromae... In 2019, he released Santeboutique, celebrated his 70th birthday with sold out concerts in his home town of Ostend and, that same year, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
In May 2021, he released 'Vivre', one of his usual wry jokes, and returned to the stage in February 2022 at the Ancienne Belgique, despite his illness, for a moving concert during which the title of his album 'Vivre' sparkled in the darkness. In March, he received the honorary distinction of Officer of the Order of the Crown, recognised as an 'icon of the Belgian music scene'.
Arno died on 23 April at the age of 72 after a two-year battle against pancreatic cancer.
He leaves behind his poetic and slightly surrealist rock music.
© Belga image