The next great milestone in his career took place in the 1950s, when Schoepen was invited to play the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN, making Bobbejaan the first non-British European musician to perform there -- 1953 would see him play there three times, alongside such luminaries as Roy Acuff. That decade was rounded out with further European shows and tours, as well as an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1957. His American adventure continued for a while, even seeing Bobbejaan record albums at RCA studios under the name Bobby John. He was also the Belgian representative at the 1957 Eurovision Song Contest. A busy decade, to say the least. The '60s would see him tour more and more -- eventually adding a circus tent to his touring caravan, to make it easier and more efficient to tour Europe on his own, as well as undertaking the precarious role of musician and actor. He appeared in five musical films in his time, some German and some Belgian.
The '60s would also see the development of his large tract of land from a performance venue to the theme park it would become in the '70s. By the 1980s, Bobbejaan's park became one of the Continent's leading amusement parks. The park, its shows, its visitors, and its development became the focal point of his career until 1999, when Bobbejaan was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. Soon after, he would sell the park, and once his illness had gone by the wayside, Bobbejaan returned to his first -- and most important -- passion, music. In 2005, he appeared and performed at the Saint-Amour Festival, and was inducted into the Radio 2 Belgium Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2007, Bobbejaan was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Ancienne Belgique, and in 2008, he did something he hadn't done in 35 years: release a new album. Recorded in Miami, Bobbejaan was well received, and featured a number of modern Belgian musicians. Later that year, the already well-rewarded performer was inducted into the Whistler's Hall of Fame, the first for a European. ~ Chris True, Rovi