the group Golden Earring to the casual American rock fan,and
more than likely the response if any will be
the mention of but two songs, "Radar Love" and "Twilight
Zone". Uttering Golden Earring's name to a rock music
lover in Holland, however, will probably be met with the kind
of enthusiasm usually reserved for the Rolling Stones or the
Grateful Dead in the United States. For many Europeans, Golden
Earring is more than just another "classic rock"
band, they are a rock'n'roll legend.
Because of their limited success in the United States, most
Americans are unaware of Golden Earring's remarkable history
or the fact that they are still in existence. Of those who
do know that the group is still together, few realize that
the current line-up has been intact since 1970. The band has
had no fewer than 44 hit singles in its native Holland, and
has toured every year since their debut single "Please
Go" in 1965.
backbone of Golden Earring is formed by founding members
George Jan Kooymans and Marinus (Rinus) Gerritsen. Guitarist
Kooymans (born 11 March, 1948) and bassist Gerritsen (born
9 August, 1946) grew up together in the Hague, better known
as the Dutch seat of government. They were neighborhood
schoolmates who shared a love for music. They began jamming
together in 1960, and in 1961 formed a band called the Tornados.
The Tornados were an instrumental pop combo, who used homemade
amplifiers and played at school functions and local club
Tornados initial line-up consisted of Kooymans on lead guitar,
Gerritsen on bass, Fred van der Hilst on drums, and Hans
van Herwerden on rhythm guitar. Their popularity in The
Hague grew steadily. When their manager was informed that
a band in England had the same name, the group found themselves
in need of a new title. They ended up calling themselves
the Golden Earrings because they began their first set with
a song by that name. Their first gig under this title was
so successful that they decided it would be foolish to change
In 1963, Peter de Ronde replaced van Herwerden in the rhythm
guitar slot. By 1964, the Golden Earrings had began writing
lyrics for what had been an instrumental band, and added
a lead vocalist named Frans Krassenburg. In 1965, their
manager, Freddy Haayen, decided that the group was ready
to record, and they signed with Polydor. They recorded "Please
Go" in August of that year, with a line-up consisting
of Kooymans (lead guitar), Gerritsen (bass), de Ronde (rhythm
guitar), Krassenburg (lead vocals), and Jaap Eggermont replacing
van der Hilst on drums. The song entered the Dutch charts
less than two months after its release, and remained there
for twenty weeks, peaking at number ten.
November of 1965 the Golden Earrings released their debut
album, "Just Ear-rings", which was the first album
ever recorded by a Dutch rock'n'roll band. It sold well,
and in the next year they released four more singles, all
of which went higher than number fifteen on the Dutch charts.
The Golden Earrings became a sensation in Holland, and in
1966 toured throughout Europe. For the first time, the group
thought that this could actually be a way to make a living.
That realization led to the dismissal of rhythm guitarist
Peter de Ronde, who had failed to progress musically at
the same rate as the others.
1967, the band was convinced that playing gigs was where
the real money was, and wanted to expand to venues outside
its homeland. With that in mind, they agreed that vocalist
Krassenburg didn't have what was needed to be a frontman
for their high-energy live performances. In his place they
chose Barry Andrew Hay (born 16 August, 1948). The Golden
Earrings wrote and sang exclusively in English, and Hay
was a perfect choice for them. Raised by a British father,
and living in Holland from an early age, Hay was fluent
in both languages, played several instruments, and had song-writing
skills in addition to his vocal talents.
By 1968, the addition of Hay was more evident in the change
in the band's musical style than in the presence of a new
voice. While their earlier music had a strong emphasis on
"boy meets girl" lyrics and a "Merseyside"
beat, the latest album, "Miracle Mirror", had
a distinctive Earrings sound. Kooymans and Hay were splitting
the lead vocal work 50/50, and Hay's instrumental contributions
were a definite dividend.
1969 was a very special year for the Golden Earrings. The
band's success in Europe secured them a record deal in the
United States with Atlantic Records. The group released
a "rockumentary" film, and embarked on their first
tour of America. This was not without its problems, however.
In the Amsterdam airport, just before the plane was scheduled
to take off, the band was informed that their work permits
were not in order. Manager Freddy Haayen left the panic-stricken
group, and flew immediately to the States. He returned the
following week with the necessary permits, and the Golden
Earrings found themselves in America, the first Dutch rock
group ever to tour the States. The band's visit to the States
included gigs at the Whisky-A-Go-Go, the Fillmore East,
the Village Gate, Detroit's Grande Ballroom, and the Fillmore
West. Among the acts they supported were Joe Cocker, John
Lee Hooker, B.B.King, Led Zeppelin, and the Who.
On their return to the Netherlands, drummer Jaap Eggermont,
tired of life on the road, was replaced by jazz percussionist
Sieb Warner. With this change came a new musical direction
for the band. Pop records were now a thing of the past;
the group wrote and recorded exclusively rock'n'roll. Their
music bordered on heavy metal, with a dose of acid rock.
Evident in this new sound was the dominance of Gerritsen,
whose unique style made the bass not just a rhythm instrument
but a lead instrument as well. Bass solos were now featured
during the live shows, and included an assault on the bass
amp, usually ending with Gerritsen lying flat on his back.
It was about this time that the band dropped the "s"
from their title, becoming the Golden Earring.
began with another tour of the United States, which included
four nights at the Fillmore West, opening for Delaney and
Bonnie and Eric Clapton. This was Sieb Warner's first visit
to the States, and his fascination with the country led
to numerous problems. He was late for rehearsals, and often
disappeared with no clue to his whereabouts. His on-stage
performance also left a lot to be desired. Even before the
tour, the band had been feeling uncomfortable with Warner's
work, and on their return to Holland he was replaced by
another musician from The Hague, Cornelis Johannes (Cesar)
Zuiderwijk (born 18 July, 1948). At the same time, the group
dropped "the" from their name, and in the summer
of 1970 Golden Earring was reborn with a line-up that remains
intact to the present day.
The first album released by the new line-up was titled simply
"Golden Earring", although fans refer to it as
the "The Wall of Dolls" in tribute to the cover
art. Like the rest of their work, the album sold in great
numbers in Europe, but barely surfaced in the United States.
This album earned Golden Earing its first Edison award,
the highest record achievement in Holland.
the latter half of 1971 the group crossed paths with the
Who, and was asked to join the British rock legend on a
European tour, which continued into 1972. Impressed by the
power of Golden Earring's music, Roger Daltry told the band
that it was too good to be an opening act. This eventually
led to a recording contract with Track Records, a subsidiary
of MCA. It was Track Records that funded the 1973 release
of the album "Moontan", which contained the song
(A promotional video to support "Radar Love" was
filmed which shows alternate scenes of the band onstage
and an automobile racing through the night. It ends with
Zuiderwijk jumping spread-eagled over his drumkit, which
became a trade-mark of their live performances.)
Because of the extraordinary success of "Radar Love"
in Europe, Track was quick to release the LP in the United
States. However, the cover of "Moontan" depicted
a nude Las Vegas showgirl (not to mention a nude Barry Hay
on the inner sleeve), and it caused problems with MCA. The
cover was subsequently banned in the States, although the
single "Radar Love" soared to number thirteen,
making it the band's first chart success in America. "Radar
Love" remains an FM staple to this day, and is considered
by many to be one of the classic rock songs of all time.
1975 the band added another member, Robert Jan Stipps, as
keyboard player and arranger. With his advent, the group
cut its hair, wore new clothing, and formulated a totally
new, "progressive" sound. The change is evident
not only in the inclusion of several keyboard instruments,
but in a new style of writing which made the album "Switch"
very different from its predecessor. The band added a horn
section and several tons of sound equipment to its touring
production to support that studio sound.
of the hustle and bustle associated with the touring life
of international rock'n'roll stardom, Stipps left the band
the following year. They were joined by Eelco Gelling, formerly
of Cuby and the Blizzards, who was considered one of mainland
Europe's finest guitar players. Although this meant replacing
a keyboardist with a guitarist, Kooymans felt that Gelling's
extraordinary talent, and his mastery of the slide guitar,
could add a whole new dimension to the Earring sound. This
was most evident during live performances, as Kooymans and
Gelling traded licks and fueled each other into guitar frenzy.
Their lead guitar styles were entirely different, and complemented
each other both on stage and in the studio.
in 1977, the double album "Golden Earring Live"
sold well in the United States, and paved the way for the
band's fifth U.S. tour. During that visit, Golden Earring
supported the likes of Led Zeppelin, Kiss, and Aerosmith.
When it came time to record the next album, the band knew
that their future with MCA was at stake, and that they needed
to produce something with American appeal. They called on
American producer Jimmy Iovene to oversee the new project,
"Grab It For A Second". The strategy failed in
more ways than one. Not only did it not sell well in the
States, the new heavy guitar sound adopted for the album
actually alienated many of their loyal Dutch fans.
(One song on the album,"Cell 29", was written
about an event Hay would not care to relive. Following a
concert in 1977, Hay drove his car directly into a police
cruiser. Both vehicles were totalled, although Hay escaped
wit minor injuries. He was sentenced to jail for a couple
of weeks, and the tune was written in his prison cell in
the Dutch city of Hoorn.)
Despite the failure of the album, and the demise of the
MCA deal, Golden Earring toured the United States again
in the fall of 1978. During that trip, Gerritsen's beloved
Daneletro bass guitar was stolen from a New York hotel.
To say that he was attached to this instrument would be
an understatement; roadies even claimed that he cried the
night of the theft. It is certain that, while normally a
flamboyant and energetic stage performer, Gerritsen stood
motionless during several concerts following the incident.
To make matters worse, Gelling was becoming a problem. He
and Kooymans were fueding over their respective guitar roles,
and Gelling began to feel alienated. Like Robert Jan Stipps,
he felt like a sideman with the band, rather than a core
member. He left before the end of the tour, and Kooymans
had to assume all of the lead guitar work for the remaining
saw the release of the LP "No Promises, No Debts"
in both Europe and the U.S., the executives at Polydor having
been able to convince their American counterparts to sign
the group Stateside. The most remarkable event of the year,
however, occurred on tour. As part of their stage show,
the members of Golden Earing had magnesium flash bombs affixed
to the necks of their guitars. At this particular gig, the
flashbomb on Kooymans' guitar ignited prematurely, and literally
exploded his instrument. A metal fragment from the explosion
hit Kooymans in the neck, just missing his jugular vein.
Although he lost a great deal of blood, Kooymans was rushed
to a local hospital and escaped with a nasty scar. As a
result, the band discontinued the use of the flashbombs.
By 1982, manager Freddy Haayen felt very confident about
his overall knowledge of the music business. When he realized
Golden Earring's dissatisfaction with the minimal attention
they had received over the years in the States, he formed
a new label, 21 Records, in New York. Golden Earring was
the first band to sign on. The name of the new label reflected
the fact that their next release would be their 21st official
album release in Holland; fifteen studio albums, two live
albums, and three greatest hits compilations had been released
by Polydor from 1965 to 1981.
the new album was finished, Hay suggested that it should
be called "Cut". He wanted very much to hear DJs
in Holland announce the album's title, since it meant "cu*t"
in Dutch. There was a bit of a fight over this, but Hay
and Haayen eventually won.)
The choice of single from the album was "Twilight Zone",
and the accompanying video was the first Golden Earring
film to be shown on MTV. The single became Golden Earring's
fourth number one hit in Holland, and their first American
top ten hit.
Between gigs in Holland, Zuiderwijk had become fascinated
with electronic drums and produced some home-made instruments,
which he added to his already enormous drum set. By 1983
he had enough pieces to literally play in a 360 degree motion
around his kit. He also put the finishing touches on his
"drum jacket", an electronic drum-lined sport
coat which he would don and "play" during his
drum solos. Since then, many percussionists have copied
Zuiderwijk's "drum jacket".
In 1984, the band was filmed and recorded at a gig in Leiden,
Holland, and RCA produced it as the concert video "Live
From the Twilight Zone" for release in the United States.
It contained all of the show's highlights: the appearance
of the leather-clad dancers, Kooymans jumping into the crowd
and playing the guitar behind his head, Zuiderwijk performing
with his "drum jacket" and playing drums in 360
degree fashion, Gerritsen playing his foot-operated bass
synthesizer, and Hay doing a dynamic vocal improvisation
of his trade-mark "Long Blond Animal".
Golden Earring was forced to take a hiatus from their 1987
tour while Zuiderwijk served a jail term for a weapons possession
charge. During the last American tour, he had attempted
to smuggle a hand gun from the United States to Holland
in one of his bass drums. Then as now, the Dutch government
was very serious about gun control, and when the weapon
was located no exception was made for Zuiderwijk's celebrity
A retrospective compilation of Golden Earring, "The
Very Best of Golden Earring",was released in Holland
in 1988. The double album and twin CDs went platinum in
Holland, and the band dubbed its journey through Europe
that year "The Very Best Of Tour". Freddy Haayen
dissolved 21 Records and formed a new label, Jaws Records.
Naturally, the first band to sign with the new label was
1990 Golden Earring secured a deal with Columbia Records.
This was a breakthrough for the band, as it had been nearly
ten years since they had recorded on a major label. Their
1991 release,"Bloody Buccaneers", went gold in
Holland within weeks of its appearance. Unfortunately, Columbia/CBS
declined to distribute the CD Stateside, and Golden Earring
gave up hope of an American release. Also in 1991, Kooymans,
Hay, Gerritsen, and Zuiderwijk got their footprints on Sony
Star Boulevard Scheveningen, and, in the city of Almere,
Golden Earring Street was dedicated to the group.
In September of 1993, a project that Zuiderwijk had been
working on for no less than two years finally took place
in Rotterdam. The crazed percussionist assembled 1,000 drummers
and their 1,000 drum sets on a series of pontoons in the
city's harbor. The drummers were divided into four color-coded
sections, and each of the percussionists wore caps with
drum sticks through them.
event, simply entitled,"1,000 Drummers", began
when Zuiderwijk was lowered to the main stage in a harness
from a huge crane. He then conducted the drummers in a series
of riffs, rolls, and rudiments which produced somewhat of
a Doppler effect among the amazed spectators. Zuiderwijk
then donned a "drumstick hat" and played a giant
drum set. The show, which included such bizarre stunts as
playing drums underwater, culminated with an appearance
by Golden Earring, who accompanied the 1,000 drummers on
an extraordinary version of "Radar Love".
concept of an acoustic tour, with which the band had been
flirting for several years, became a reality in 1993. The
"Naked Truth Tour" was an unplugged journey that
lasted from February through May. During this time, however,
the group alternated the acoustic with an almost equal number
of electric shows. The electric concerts provided a recess
from continuously playing acoustic instruments which
for Kooymans and Gerritsen in particular was essential,
as both were nursing new blisters and developing calluses
in places they never had before. Tiring as it was, the successful
year earned Golden Earring its name on Rotterdam's "Walk
saw the release of "Face It", which went gold
in the Netherlands within six weeks of its release. It was
released in the United States to coincide with the thirtieth
anniversary of the band's first single. Shortly afterward,
Golden Earring was approached with an offer to play in the
U.S. as the support band for another incarnation of Deep
Purple, but they declined. With the enormous success the
band was achieving in Holland, they would hardly have contemplated
headlining shows in the U.S., much less performing as a
In early 1995, "Face It" went platinum in the
Netherlands, and "The Naked Truth" went triple
platinum. On June 25th, 1995, Golden Earring played for
an unprecedented audience of 400,000 at the Parkpop festival
in The Hague. Golden Earring, now commonly referred to as
the "Rolling Stones of Holland" already has concerts
booked well into 1996. At the moment, the band is riding
on a crest of its career and shows no signs of breaking
up. As Kooymans put it,"We're not doing it because
we have to, but because we want to. The excitement is still
there with every show we do."
September of 1997 Golden Earring released the follow-up
to "The Naked Truth" called "Naked II".
The overall quality and maturity of the band is stunning
to say the least. It's not just a re-hash of songs that
fans of the band are familiar with, but a whole new approach
to some classic Golden Earring tunes.
Tracks: "Who Do You Love", "Buddy Joe",
"She Flies On Strange Wings", "Quiet Eyes",
"Going To The Run", "Bombay", "Burning
Stuntman", "Mood Indigo", "Where Will
I Be", "This Wheels On Fire", "Johnny
Make Believe", "When The Lady Smiles" &
"The Devil Made Me Do It".
latest Golden Earring CDs, "Naked II", "Complete
Naked Truth", "Paradise in Distress", and
"Last Blast of the Century" are currently available
online at the CD Teleshop®.
from "Golden Earring: Dutch Masters", by John Scarpelli,
published in Goldmine, Vol.21, No.26, December 22, 1995. Case
work by Special Agent Coyote Red. Dedicated to and inspired
by Les Scott.