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Paradiso, Melkweg co-founder Willem de Ridder passes

Willem de Ridder, co-founder of iconic Amsterdam venues Paradiso and Melkweg, passed away aged 83.

The Dutch national died peacefully last Thursday (29 December) after “a short-term illness”, according to his website.

De Ridder, along with others, founded the 1,500-capacity Paradiso (formerly known as Cosmic Relaxation Center Paradiso) in 1968.

“Everyone sat on the floor, smoked joints and there were projections with liquid slides,” said De Ridder about the early days of Paradiso. “Anyone who wanted to could do something on stage and as a DJ I played whatever people gave me. Everyone in power.”

Paradiso has hosted artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Prince

In the 50 years since, the former church on Weteringschans became a pop venue, night club and cultural palace, hosting artists such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Prince.

Two years after unveiling Paradiso, de Ridder helped to open Melkweg (Milky Way), a former sugar and, later, milk factory located on Lijnbaansgracht.

The historical building now houses two concert halls (the biggest being 1,500 capacity), a cinema, a multidisciplinary room and an exhibition space, which attract a combined 540,000 visitors annually.

De Ridder was also an artist, a magazine maker and a radio and television producer.


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