Batavia, Dutch East Indies (current: Jakarta, Indonesia)
Boudewijn de Groot was born in Indonesia in 1944 in a Japanese concentration camp close to Batavia (today known as Jakarta) where his mother died in June 1945. In 1946, he and his family returned to the Netherlands. De Groot's father, however, was obliged to return to Indonesia, so De Groot went to stay with his aunt in Haarlem. In 1951, his father came back and in 1952, the family moved, with his new stepmother, to Heemstede. De Groot lived in Heemstede in the same street as his future lyricist, Lennaert Nijgh, who was a friend of De Groot's stepbrother.
In 1960, De Groot met Nijgh at the Coornhertlyceum in Haarlem. At that time, De Groot was already singing in the style of Jaap Fischer and Jacques Brel. Lenneart Nijgh wrote his lyrics. After their high school-period they both decided to go to a film academy. In their last year, Nijgh made the short movie "Feestje Bouwen", for which De Groot wrote two songs. During one of the presentations of the movie, television journalist Ed Lautenslager became impressed with De Groot's talent, and subsequently helped him to get a contract with record label Philips. De Groot's first single, "Strand", appeared in 1964 and led to some media attention. He followed it up with "Elegie prenatale" and "De morgen", and his recurring appearances in the television show "Kaberet Kroniek" made De Groot a minor national celebrity. The single "Noordzee" in February 1964 was a much bigger hit, but the huge breakthrough came in 1966 with Lenneart Nijgh's adaptation of a song from Charles Aznavour's "Une enfant de seize ans", retitled "Meisje van 16". This was De Groot's first song to appear in a music chart. He soon quit his job to become a full-time singer. After a while, his first album Boudewijn de Groot, recorded with the Frans de Kok orchestra, was released by record label Decca.
Much of Nijgh's lyrics included social criticism, so after the release of his first album in 1966 De Groot was labeled as a protest singer, an image confirmed for the mainstream audience by the success of his song Welterusten Meneer de President ("Goodnight, Mister President") on the Vietnam War. De Groot's second album Voor de overlevenden was released later in 1966. The arranger and conductor for this album, Bert Paige, continued to work with De Groot until the 1970s. However, during carnival 1967, "Land van Maas en Waal" was released and became De Groot's third hit. Under the name "Baldwin", an English version of these songs appeared in the U.K. (The land at rainbow's end). The next single, "Onder ons", just made it into the charts. By this time, De Groot had already recorded songs like "Verdronken vlinder", "Testament" and "Beneden alle peil", which would later become successful but would never enter hit charts. De Groot and Nijgh became influenced by the Flower Power movement during that time and created the album Picknick. The songs sounded a lot like a mix of George Harrison's work on The Beatles albums and their own work. The album was well received, and the single "Picknick" was a hit. The duet "Meester Prikkebeen" (together with Elly Nieman) entered the charts two months later. Two other songs, "Waterdrager" and "Als de rook om je hoofd is verdwenen" were minor hits in 1968.
In 1968, De Groot decided he didn't want to perform live anymore and stopped his collaboration with Nijgh and his band, The Names and Faces. In 1969, De Groot worked with Eelco Gelling, the guitarist of Cuby and the Blizzards and, under the name Tower, they recorded the single "In Your Life", which became a hit. After this, he started working with Lucien Duzee, and they created his fourth album Nacht en ontij. The record didn't sound like De Groot's old work, and the single didn't make it in the charts. The new singles from Tower also failed, and De Groot gave up singing. He moved to a farm in Dwingeloo. After a year, De Groot returned as the producer of Rob de Nijs and Oscar Benton.
In 1971, his record label released a compilation album called Vijf jaar hits. It sold over 100,000 copies and, subsequently, De Groot frequently reappeared on the radio. Much of his old work was re-appreciated, and "Als de rook om je hoofd is verdwenen" became a hit again. Another compilation album called Dubbel twee was also released. De Groot began working with Nijgh again, and they released the album Hoe sterk is de eenzame fietser in 1973. The song "Jimmy" became his greatest hit in 5 years, constituting a definite comeback. Boudewijn received an Edison and a Gouden Harp (Dutch music awards).
Meanwhile, De Groot en Nijgh had orchestrated the comeback of Rob de Nijs, writing a string of hits for him, including "Jan Klaassen de trompetter" and "Malle Babbe".
In 1975, Boudewijn wrote the album Waar ik woon en wie ik ben with his old classmate René Daalder. The single "Ik ben Ik" became a hit. De Groot moved to California a few months later for inspiration, and did not return until 1977. He made no new records in this period, but toured in Belgium and Holland. One of the songs he wrote in California, "Annabel", became a hit for Hans de Booy. In April 1980, his new album Van een afstand was released. It contained the single and the title song for the movie "Tip van de sluier". The single and movie were not successes, but the album won an Edison. De Groot quit in 1984 after the release of his 8th album, Maalstroom.
After his retirement in music, De Groot wanted to translate, compose film music and perform when asked. He composed the music for the TV series "De familie Wijntak" (1986) and for the movies "Lost in Amsterdam" (1989), "Let the Music Dance" (1990) and a 1987 Dutch adaption of the hit musical Nunsense. He acted in the musical "Tjechov", where he played the lead role of Anton Chekhov and in "Het dagboek van Anne Frank" where he played the role of Otto Frank. Under the pseudonym "Frank de Groot", he has translated seven Stephen King novels and in 2011 Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent into Dutch.
In 1996, Boudewijn de Groot released Een Nieuwe Herfst. His new record label Mercury also released an album with old work and new released work. De Groot started going on tours again and he reappeared in TV-shows sometimes again. He started writing non-commercial albums along with Nijgh and released Een eiland in de verte in 2003. Nijgh died in 2002. On 19 January 2007 De Groot issued his new album Lage Landen. He wrote most of the lyrics, but also used texts of Lennaert Nijgh and Freek de Jonge. The album was recorded in Nashville. On 3 February 2007 Lage Landen reached the top rankings on hit lists in the Netherlands.