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Fré de Vos
20/12/1974 – 25/10/2023

I associate my first meeting with Fré with this Belgian beer.
In 2013 I traveled among other newspaper volunteers to the European Parliament in Brussels. I had told Fré about that planned educational trip before. To my suprise he offered to come to Brussels by train for a first meeting.
We finally met on the large crowded plaza on one of the free afternoons. While I didn’t initially recognize Fré (whom I had only known online) he recognized me immediately. We were real opposites at the time but the cordial nature of our online chats carried over into real life.
Fré showed me the relevant record stores in the shopping street before we stopped off in the Jewish quarter of Brussels. «You Germans brew a very strong beer. In Belgium the beer is more quaffable» Fré explained to me. The rest of the afternoon was spent tasting varieties recommended by Fré. We talked in depth about music, distribution and label work until the evening. Finally Fré, just as drunk as I was, picked up two bottles of Kriek from the supermarket for me. They remained the souvenir of a special meeting in the here and now.

Fré was a bon vivant.
Someone who enjoyed life as it came.
A man with a special, sometimes extremely twisted sense of humor.
Fré was subculture, a full-time cynic and a bit of a punk.
He was damn honest and extremely direct.
Yet by closer inspection his big heart shined through.
His knowledge of music from techno to jazz seemed endless.
Some of the records on my shelf are only there thanks to Fré’s recommendations.

In 2019 I played at the Frans Masereel Centrum in Antwerp at his invitation. Fré picked my partner and me up in person. Blue Adidas jacket, gray coat and cap: that’s how he stood at Central Station. Barefoot – despite the low temperatures. Prior he had explained to me that walking barefoot is the healthiest thing for your feet. One of many examples of the unusual paths Fré took. There was a lot about him that was unusual, and that was also what made him so charismatic and mysterious.
He attracted people’s attention. Fré was the Monger King and a jack-of-all-trades.

«Morbus Gravis», his record store, was located in the Jewish quarter and served as a meeting point for freaks, music addicts and dreamers.
A cozy space. A warm living room. A salon like Gertrude Stein’s.
A store that fulfilled wishes. Fré was happy to share his knowledge of music. Anyone who was genuinely interested in what was being sold here had everything at their disposal. «Respect to the scene» was the credo. He mercilessly put egomaniacs and sudsmen through their paces. He put trendsetters and hipsters in their place with biting remarks.

I really liked this punk attitude as well as his loyalty and honesty.
Fré’s word was his bond, you could always rely on him.
He was a friend, a constant companion, a good and fair critic and a fine person.

There are few people who have had such an influence on me as Fré. I was able to learn a lot from him, a lot of things shaped me afterwards and made me who I am today.
Now it is my duty to preserve this and pass it on.

Thank you for everything my friend

Thorsten Soltau
October 2023

This obituary was written for an memorial event at Bar Bob, Antwerp and reprinted with permission.