Golden Earring
1961
The Netherlands
Music group
Golden Earring is a Dutch rock/pop group that was founded in 1961 in The Hague as the Golden Earrings (the 's' was later dropped). They had international chart success with the songs "Eight Miles High" in 1969, "Radar Love" in 1973, and "Twilight Zone" in 1982. In their "home-country" they had over 40 hits and made over 30 gold and platinum albums. Current members of Golden Earring are Barry Hay (vocals, guitar, flute and saxophone, member since 1968), George Kooymans (vocals and guitar,founder of band), Rinus Gerritsen (bass and keyboard, founding member), and Cesar Zuiderwijk (drums and percussion, member since 1970).

Golden Earring was formed in 1961 in The Hague by 13-year-old George Kooymans and his 15-year-old neighbour, Rinus Gerritsen. Originally called The Tornados, the name was changed to Golden Earrings when they discovered that "The Tornados" was already in use. The name Golden Earrings was taken from a song, originally sung by Marlene Dietrich in 1947 and a hit for Peggy Lee in 1948, with which they opened their concerts. Initially a "teenybopper" band, Golden Earrings had their first chart success with their debut single Please Go, recorded in 1965. It reached number 9 on the music charts in the Netherlands. Unsatisfied with Dutch recording studios, the band's manager and co-discoverer Freddy Haayen arranged for the next single to be recorded at Pye Studios in London. The record cut at Pye, That Day, reached number two on the Dutch charts, having been prevented from rising to number one by The Beatles' "Michelle".

In 1968, the band earned their first number one hit in the Netherlands with the pop song "Dong Dong Diki Diki Dong". This was followed by the success of their psychedelic album Eight Miles High, which featured an eighteen-minute version of the title track, itself a cover of The Byrds hit. The live version, which could last 45 minutes, was considered by some to be a highlight in their first and second American tours.

Golden Earring embarked on their first major US tour in 1969 - 1970. Due to American influences, their music evolved towards hard rock, and they performed along with Led Zeppelin. Between 1969 and 1984, Golden Earring completed thirteen US tours. During this period, they performed as the opening act for Santana, The Doobie Brothers, Rush and .38 Special; and in the early seventies, when "Radar Love" was a hit, had KISS and Aerosmith as their opening act. They enjoyed a brief period of stardom but were unable to secure further chart success until 1982's "Twilight Zone", which was followed by "When the Lady Smiles" in 1984. After a rather disappointing reaction in the US to the latter, Golden Earring turned their focus towards Europe where they continue to attract SRO crowds. Golden Earring has recorded over 30 gold and platinum albums and singles, and a number of artists have covered their international hit and rock classic "Radar Love".

While Golden Earring has almost faded from the international concert scene, they still maintain a core group of loyal fans, and their music is still played on US, Canadian, British, Australian and other radio stations. However a new American or European tour is something the band is undecided about, although their 2003 record Millbrook USA was recorded in Millbrook, New York state, at the studio of fellow-musician Frank Carillo, which indicates the band still have not lost touch with the US.

The story of Golden Earring, below here, is written by Rinus Gerritsen in 2000.

When a recording artist has been in the picture for one or more decades, compilations and ‘greatest hits’ releases become inevitable.

We never gave these kind of things much personal cooperation or attention, because we saw it as a kind of sell-out that stood in the way of the creative process that will always be sacred to us.

When Roy Teysse approached us with the plan for this project, on behalf of Universal, we were just about to embark on a sabbatical year and if there is no such things as coincidence, it was a perfect piece of timing. During a period of rest and reflection like that, you notice that it can be fun to look back.

We made a deliberate decision to put almost all the singles we released in the past 35 years on the first three CDs in chronological order. Their titles and of course the albums from which they are taken then function as beacons in the story. A story that is really more of a report, embellished with a few anecdotes and quotes. Obviously, this text will never be able to cover the ‘complete story’; a real book will have to be published one day in order to do that.So for the moment we will limit ourselves to the actual records: the songs, the productions, the promotion and everything they involve.

While reading this you will discover that the life of an average rock & roll band is no bed of roses. And that is probably putting it mildly. But believe us, none of these guys would choose a different career if we were given the chance to start over again.

One of us had to be appointed as the storyteller, and that task has fallen to me. It is an excellent opportunity to thank my mates George, Barry and Cesar for a fantastic and inspirational time, which as far as I’m concerned may continue for a long time to come.
-Rinus Gerritsen

Hand’s wet on the wheel
Being a child of the post-war baby boom, most of your spare time was spent on the streets with a ball at your feet. The same goes for yours truly in the late fifties, in a virtually car-free era. Music could be heard coming from open windows and echoing off the walls and in the stairwells. Little Richard, Lloyd Price, Fats Domino and Elvis; those are the first names that come to mind when I think back to those days. He was always noticed, that slight young boy of not yet twelve years old, always hanging out with the older kids and always at the forefront if there was any action. Football was not his thing, but he was enthusiastic at judo, a solo sport, and then there was his other passion: playing the guitar, which he had been doing since he was eight. We met at our house when he came to give my brother guitar lessons. My brother Rob, who is three years older than I am, has many talents (at this moment he fulfils all the management positions in Golden Earring BV) but musical talent is not something he can be said to possess. We got on well immediately, Rob’s guitar eventually became mine and George and I had found each other in our shared passion: playing the guitar and our dream of a band that would lead us to great fame.

1 Please Go
Release: September 1965
Highest chart position: 10

2 That Day
Release: January 1966
Highest chart position: 2

Five years, two band names and innumerable band members later, we were performing regularly as The Golden Earrings in and near The Hague with, besides George and myself, singer Frans Krassenburg, rhythm guitarist Peter de Ronde and drummer Jaap Eggermont. One evening a guy came into our dressing room who introduced himself as Freddie Haayen. On behalf of the Polydor record company he offered to record a few of our own songs. Of course we seized this opportunity with both hands. What we didn’t know, was that Haayen was a student, working for the company as a trainee, and had never seen the inside of a studio in his life. He managed to bluff his way through it all though, something we were to see more of in the future. The session took place in the old Phonogram Studio, a converted gym in the Honingstraat in Hilversum and took just one afternoon. ‘Please Go’ was chosen to be our first single, with ‘Chunk of Steel’ on the B-side. To our minds the rendition of the song was far from perfect, but apparently the public thought otherwise and, thanks in part to the support from pirate station Veronica, our first hit was born. Not long after, we quickly recorded another eight numbers and we had our first LP: ‘Just Earrings’. Fred Haayen, who was always in for a stunt and who was not very pleased with the work of the Dutch studio technicians, suggested we go to England for this recording. The journey was made by boat, because there was no money to go by plane. Everyone was seasick, but that was soon forgotten when we stuffed our instruments into a couple of London taxis and drove to PYE Studios. In order to ensure radio support for this record, we had taken Veronica DJ Jan van Veen with us as our guest. We were home again in a day where we performed in the most popular Dutch chat show at the time, Willem O’Duys’ ‘Voor de Vuist weg’. Nothing was left to chance in ensuring it reached the highest possible chart position, despite the fact that the Beatles were unbeatable at the time and were rock-solid at number one with ‘Michelle’.

3 If You Leave Me
Release: May 1966
Highest chart position: 9

4 Daddy Buy Me A Girl
Release: September 1966
Highest chart position: 12

5 Don’t Run Too Far
Release: November 1966
Highest chart position: 14

6 In My House
Release: April 1967
Highest chart position: 10

There was enormous pressure on us to produce a sequel to ‘That Day’, so we tried to write a song in the same style. After we returned from England we listened critically to the recording and decided that the sound quality was crap. In the middle of the night we went to look for Freddie, who turned out to be in a nightclub that we kids weren’t allowed into. After we pleaded with him for ages, the guy at the door went to look for him. He had to agree with us and flew back to London the next day to re-master the record. After the ‘If You Leave Me’ experience from which it was apparent that the quality of the demo we made in The Hague was by no means less than the English version, we decided to record ‘Daddy Buy Me A Girl’ in Gerard Bakker’s GTB Studio in The Hague. We had already made a number of trial recording there and by then we had the run of the place. Apparently there is nothing as whimsical as a group of musicians, because for this song we traveled to London again. It must have been the adventure that attracted us. During the winter of ’66-’67, we recorded our second LP at the Phonogram Studio in Hilversum, with the fitting title ‘Winter Harvest’. Rhythm guitarist Peter de Ronde had just left the group and there were four of us left: George, Jaap Eggermont, Frans Krassenburg and myself.

7 Sound Of The Screaming Day
Release: July 1967
Highest chart position: 4

8 Together We Live, Together We Love
Release: October 1967
Highest chart position: 6

9 I’ve Just Lost Somebody
Release: March 1968
Highest chart position: 7

Keyboard player Cees Schrama played on a number of the tracks and he also did the scores for the wind instruments. ‘In My House’ is one of the 14 tracks.

Frans left the band after the recording. He did sing the background vocals, but the lead vocals are by George.

At the time this single was released, Barry was the new band member. He was already in the clip and he also sang the B-side: ‘She Won’t Come to Me’. Barry was known as the lead singer of The Haigs, a band from The Hague, but at the time when he was asked to join us, we had just teamed up with Robbie van Leeuwen’s Shocking Blue. Van Leeuwen was not very happy with Barry’s swift transfer and spoke the historic words: “you will regret this terribly one day, little man!!” Barry didn’t have much to regret in the end, although Robbie doesn’t have much cause to complain either.

All’s well that ends well, and that was surely the case for ‘Sound Of The Screaming Day’, the biggest hit since ‘That Day’. The summer of ’67 was the summer of love, everyone was into flower power. The Beatles had an enormous hit with ‘All You Need Is Love’ and the Stones did the same with ‘We Love You’. And for us it was ‘Together We Live, Together We Love’, sung by both Barry and George. As we had done with ‘Sound Of The Screaming Day’ this song was recorded in London, in the studio of producer Mickie Most where artists like Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and The Animals were to be found daily. A year after ‘Winter Harvest’ it was time for album number three: ‘Miracle Mirror’.

For financial reasons, albums were recorded in the Netherlands and this time it was the turn of the GTB Studio again. Wind instruments and violins played in Hilversum led and arranged by Frans Mijts. This was also where the mixing was done. ‘I’ve Just Lost Somebody’ was chosen to be the single. The accompanying video clip was derived from the popular pop program “Moef Ga Ga”;

10 Dong-dong-diki digi-dong
Release: July 1968
Highest chart position: 1

11 Just a Little Bit Of Peace In My Heart
Release: November 1968
Highest chart position: 2

We performed on the building site of the Amsterdam Metro which was under construction at the time, whilst flash bombs and shells flew all around us. This wasn’t our first clip though; ‘Daddy Buy Me A Girl’ and ‘Sound Of The Screaming Day’ had also been put on film by the experimental director Bob Rooyens. George had actually written this song for Henk Smitskamp, the bass player who had just been thrown out of The Motions. The band members of The Motions, another band from The Hague, were a kind of archenemies and were rather condescending about the Earrings. George liked the idea of Smitskamp having a hit with an Earring song. However, when Haayen heard the song, he insisted that we record it ourselves. “This is far too commercial to give away!” he said. Its position in the charts proved him right. Inspired by the song ‘MacArthur’s Park’ by Jim Webb, sung by Richard Harris.

In those days you also had Paul & Barry Ryan, who made this kind of film music with a lot of orchestral music. Our arranger Frans Mijts was the perfect man for this kind of orchestration. First George played it to us on the acoustic guitar and then we recorded it in one go, with Cees Schrama at the piano. The tape then went to Mijts, who wrote the orchestra score. This was then added in the studio, and then it became apparent that we had a kind of overkills in the wind section (Mijts was originally a trumpet player, so it figures). Half of it was then left out and there we had a song that remains untouched by the passing of time. With the album ‘On The Double’ we said goodbye to the sixties. The group that produced palatable pop songs had switched to a style with a little more depth and rawness. This had already been happening during our performances, but now it would be heard on the records as well.

12 Where Will I Be
Release: June 1969
Highest chart position: 7

However, there was more going on, something that you need to know in order to keep some kind of grip on the course of this story. Until the mid-sixties, the record business had always been the domain of executives and producers. The artist usually had only a small part to play, came to sing at the end of the process and was paid for his services in the form of (usually low) royalties. Only logical when you consider that all the costs of the production/promotion were paid by the record company, which was therefore taking the financial risk. The songs were provided by music publishers, which were often connected with the company. After the Beatles appeared, and many other bands in their wake, things changed. A group would write, play and direct the recording of its own songs and therefore it would determine the costs as well. This would often get out of hand, as musicians are usually not business-like and tend to place budgets second to their ideals. Contracts were soon adapted, the artist would have to finance part or all of the costs, for which he would receive slightly higher royalties in return. By definition, a band doesn’t have much financial strength. For instance there is the second, usually expensive, second household: all the live work and everything that goes with it. So the record company or the production company would usually lend the band the money and then you have a situation that has proved fatal for many bands. Because if the success doesn’t happen, all that’s left is debt, the eventual break-up and obscurity. Haayen, who had not been idle in the meantime, had started a production company with Willem van Kooten, the Netherlands’ most famous radio DJ. It was called Red Bullet, as from that moment onwards, all our business was conducted from Hilversum, all in one: management, booking performances and recordings. This way all our finances were funneled together. We organized a three-month tour of the United States and during a stay in New York, we took the opportunity to go into the studio. The producer was a man named Arthur Gorson. He had us play a song about 50 times and recorded it all. We did what he asked until we dropped.

13 Another 45 Miles
Release: December 1969
Highest chart position: 3

14 Back Home
Release: July 1970
Highest chart position: 1

How were we to know? We thought this was a normal procedure in the States. So in the end there was a pile of tapes as high as the ceiling and the guy says: “O.K. guys, we’re gonna use take number 2!”. The tape was sent home, and while we were still on tour in the States, for instance as the support act for Led Zeppelin, ‘Where Will I Be’ became a hit in the Netherlands.

On our return from the States, Jaap Eggermont left the band and began a successful career as a producer. He was replaced by ex-Motions drummer Sieb Warner. We also dropped the ‘s’ in ‘Golden Earrings’; it felt better and conveyed more unity. For ‘Another 45 Miles’ we visited Olympic Studios in London, one of the most popular locations at the time. Shortly after we also recorded the LP ‘Eight Miles High’ there, a job we did in five days.

At that time, when performing live, we would play a 45-minute version of the title track, the Byrds song of the same title, complete with drums and bass solos. Especially in the States it hit like a bombshell. It was now clear to us in which direction we wanted go regarding style of music. This album was also released in the States and in the winter of ’69-’70, a second tour followed.

Sieb Warner was a sensitive and introvert person and difficult to fathom. In a form of cooperation like ours, in which we spent months sharing hotel rooms and in which the musical discipline takes its toll, this can lead to problems. During the second tour of the States, things went wrong and we had to look for a replacement. We found one, Cesar Zuiderwijk, who was then the drummer of the group Livin’ Blues. He had his own practice room above ours and we had noticed that he spent all day up their drumming. Such motivation was seldom seen, especially in our cases. Give us a place to practice that has a kitchen and there will be more cooking and eating done than playing.

15 Holy Holy Life
Release: February 1971
Highest chart position: 5

He turned out to be nice guy as well, with a good sense of humor, so we proposed pretty soon. With Cesar joining us, we had found the perfect social and musical balance and we were able to start work straight away in Hilversum on the LP ‘Golden Earring’ (better known as ‘Wall of Dolls’ because of the cover photograph. On this album you can hear that after our American adventures, we had begun to play rougher. This resulted in Germany opening up as a possible market; we really raised the roof at our concerts there. ‘Back Home’ was the first single from this LP and in the Netherlands it meant our second number one. In Germany too we reached our first high position in the charts.

We will see this recurring in the story, but the commercial success of one song results in an attempt to write a similar song, sometimes under pressure from others. It didn’t always have the desired result, but often it resulted in a good, or at least memorable, song.

16 She Flies On Strange Wings
Release: October 1971
Highest chart position: 4

17 Buddy Joe
Release: May 1972
Highest chart position: 4

18 Stand By Me
Release: September 1972
Highest chart position: 10

19 Radar Love
Release: August 1973
Highest chart position: 1

In the summer of 1971, we made the album ‘Seven Tears’ in Hilversum. We started to experiment, ended up on a psychedelic trip and for instance used the now legendary ARP synthesizer for the first time. The record company wanted to release ‘She Flies on Strange Wings’ on single. The duration of that song is 7 minutes and 22 seconds and cutting anything out was out of the question for us. We solved this by cutting the song into two parts, just before the quiet piece in the middle, so that the whole thing would fit on a single divided over the A-side and the B-side. In a time of album orientated single, this was a song with definite hit potential. Taken from the album ‘Together’ which was recorded in England.

A single, slipped in to keep things going. We start to see a creative crisis, not unusual for a band that has been around for a while and is constantly on the road. Tiredness, lack of motivation, these are the less pleasant aspects in the career of a recording artist. A positive fact is, however, that in this band it usually leads to a new high point.

In the period ’72-’73, we were constantly on the road, usually in Germany. But an extensive tour of the whole of Europe, as the support act for The Who gave us a new impulse. Britain became the next challenge; a contract with TRACK Records (the Who label) and concerts in the UK.

The spirit was back! Adjacent to George’s back garden in Blaricum was the Soundpush Studio. Here we all worked hard on the demos for a new album that was to be a new milestone for us: ‘Moontan’. Barry tells us the following about how the lyrics of ‘Radar Love’ were written: “One evening I had a few friends over, one of whom was American, and I was brainstorming with them about the form and contents of the story. It had to be something very simple, to which every average person could relate, such as someone in the bathtub and ….. Everyone started to put in ideas and it when it got too chaotic I kicked them out of the house and sent them to some nightclub so that I could work in peace. The idea of an ordinary guy in his car became to take shape and when my American house guest got home in the early hours and read the lyrics, he went wild: “This is it, brilliant! The ultimate American car song!!!”

20 Instant Poetry
Release: April 1974
Highest chart position: 3

The tracks that formed the basis of ‘Moontan’ were recorded in Hilversum and the overdubs and mixing were done in England (IBC Studios). This was done at the same time as the various tours over there. There was quite an argument as to which song to release on single, ‘Radar Love’ or ‘Vanilla Queen’.
We decided on ‘Radar Love’, because of its being very ‘danceable and disco-friendly’ (very seventies…). Partially thanks to its success in the States, number 13 in the Billboard Hot 100, it looked liked our boyhood dreams were coming true.
The positions in the charts reached by ‘Moontan’ and ‘Radar Love’ resulted in long tours of the States. We performed with bands such as Santana, J. Geils and the Doobie Brothers. During one of the rare moments at home, ‘Instant Poetry’ was written and produced at the IBC Studio, with Damon Lyon-Shaw, the technician at that time.

I Do Rock ‘n Roll

1 (Kill Me) Ce Soir
Release: March 1975
Highest chart position: 5

In the period ’74-’75, we decided to ask keyboard player Robert-Jan Stips to join the band.
During studio sessions we would often make use of keyboards, which were usually recorded separately. In order to create the same sound when playing live, I was forced to play a kind of double role; sometimes using complicated foot pedals or in some cases a Hammond organ with bass pedals, but then we would lose the characteristic Earring bass guitar. Within the band we felt that we couldn’t reproduce our recordings for 100% in this way. To solve this problem, we approached Robert-Jan, a good friend of Cesar’s who had just disbanded his own band Supersister and who didn’t mind a bit of adventure. He was able to get started right away during a tour in Britain and after that to participate in the production of the album ‘Switch’, in the Soundpush Studio in Blaricum.

Unlike previous albums, on which the music was more drawn out, with lots of instrumental passages, ‘Switch’ was more of a collage of compact songs. This also explains the idea behind the title. ‘Ce Soir’ as a single caused a good deal of commotion. The inspiration for the lyrics came from a myth that intrigued many pop artists at the time and also caused a mild form of paranoia. The story is that of a famous pop star who is killed on stage at the height of his fame. The killer was hired by his own manager who goes on to make a fortune from the sensational records sales that follow.

The Switch tour took us all over Europe and then to the USA. There we saw just how conservative that country is. George was fed up with his leather trapper’s outfit and appeared wearing a fashionable white suit and with his hair cut short.

2 Sleepwalkin’
Release: January 1976
Highest chart position: 5

3 To The Hilt
Release: May 1976
Highest chart position: tip parade

Together with the changes in our music which I have already mentioned, this caused the management to have a fit. For three years they had been busy promoting the “typical Earring space-rock style” and now they would have to start all over again. This format mentality was something we Dutch we unable to get used to. It also explains why we never went to live over there, although the various managers thought it was necessary. Halfway through the tour we had had enough. The necessary financial investments were much higher than the promised revenues. We packed our bags and went home.

The financial problems we were now facing didn’t prevent us from starting a new project in good spirits. Work on ‘To The Hilt’ was started by a band that by now had grown into a very close five man formation. In order to save as much money as possible, we decided to do the recording at George’s house, using a mobile studio parked in the garden. After we had recorded the various base tracks live, the mobile left and the overdubs were done in Hilversum, and the mixing at the Island Studios in England. There we wanted to add a saxophone solo to the single we had chosen, ‘Sleepwalkin’. The technician knew of a saxophonist. One phone call, and a guy called Chris Mercer walked in the door, listened to the track and played the solo in one go, that is still as sound as a bell today.

4 Bombay
Release: December 1976
Highest chart position: 7

5 Just Like Vince Taylor
Release: October 1977
Highest chart position: 30

6 Movin’ Down Life
Release: October 1978
Highest chart position: 27

Robert-Jan decided it was time to go his own way again, and his replacement as our fifth man was not just anybody. The blues guitarist Eelco Gelling, almost legendary in the Netherlands, surprised everyone by deciding to become a part of the Earring for a while. John Kriek, the sound man at our concerts, had by now also become our permanent studio technician. That was how we began recording the album ‘Contraband’, in the Artisound Studio in Duivendrecht. This was really a studio for advertising work, where we wanted to record demos for the familiar low-budget reasons. The recordings sounded so good, however, that we decided to use them seriously. We did the mixing at the Relight Studio in Hilvarenbeek, with Robin Freeman, a British technician.

Our sound was now really that of a real guitar band. This can be heard clearly on the single ‘Bombay’ in the intro where the guitars of Gelling and George sound great together. Time for our first real live album, most of which was recorded during a concert which had an excellent atmosphere, in the Rainbow Theatre in London. Choosing ‘Vince Taylor’ as the single was only logical; the song has been on the set list at almost every concert for ages. Barry explains his special relationship with this song: “When I was around 14-15 years old, I had a 16-year-old girlfriend with whom I went by moped to a concert by the real Vince Taylor. The girl was crazy about him. The music wasn’t really all that interesting, but I liked the leather outfit and the rough behavior on stage. And when I lost my virginity after the concert, the evening was perfect.” In the meantime, Fred Haayen had made part of his dream come true. Having made it to managing director of Polygram Records in New York, he decided it was time for a fresh attempt on the American market. Under the guidance of an American super-producer, nothing could go wrong. Jimmy Iovine had just finished a session with Bruce Springsteen and had a month or so to spend with Golden Earring before starting on his next VIP project. The king of producers (Italian American, sunglasses on top of his head like a tiara) came to the Netherlands accompanied by his personal technician and descended wearily on boring Baarn, where Chiel Montagne’s local DMC Studio was turned into his domain. This was someone Arthur Gorson could learn a thing or two from. It took half a day to tune one drum, an essential bass drumhead was flown over from New York and fine-tuning the recording apparatus was done via

7 Weekend Love
Release 1979
Highest chart position: 3

8 I Do Rock ‘N’ Roll
Release: December 1979
Highest chart position: 29

9 Long Blond Animal
Release: September 1980
Highest chart position: 19

A direct phone connection to his home studio overseas. The line would be open for six hours, because between yawning and sleeping he also had to keep his old lady at home happy. Slowly but surely, ‘Grab It For A Second’ began to take shape, but after the base recordings, our friend Jimmy suddenly had to go home to save his marriage and for other work. Luckily, he found some time during the following weeks for George and Barry, who therefore had to fly to the States to record their vocals. Needless to say the whole thing cost a fortune, but as always, there was no way back.

Under new management, Leber & Krebbs, we did an extensive tour of the USA, with among others Ted Nugent and Aerosmith who were with the same agency. The cooperation with Eelco began to go wrong at the end of that tour; George in particular wanted to go back to his old free style of playing. (Two solo guitarists can only work well together if they keep to strict rules, which limits their freedom.) Gelling took a step back. During the last weeks of the tour, we performed in our old and trusted formation and it has remained that way ever since. We needed to tighten our belts again and for ‘No Promises, No Debts’ we went back to an extremely sober, but effective method of working. We rented a holiday cottage in Winterswijk, which was easy because it was winter. There we had peace and quiet to work on new songs. This material, which was perfectly prepared, was recorded at the Wisseloord Studios in Hilversum, and ultra-modern studio complex that was to replace the old and trusted studio in the Honingstraat. At the last minute, George came up with a good demo that had been recorded at home. There was room for one more. The guitar part was copied from the amateur tape to the professional multi-track. We added bass and drums and that was it: ‘Weekend Love’. Another of those “in-between” records; not part of the album session, but surfaced as a typical single song. Reason enough for a loose Wisseloord session. Low-budget was still our creed. For ‘Prisoner Of The Night’, our daily practice space in Zoetermeer was converted in to a recording facility. A mobile studio outside and we were ready to roll. People sometimes ask Barry whether the title ‘Long Blond Animal’ is correct in English. This is yet another example of his often brilliant use of the English language:

10 No For An Answer
Release: November 1980
Highest chart position: tip

11 Slow Down
Release: June 1981
Highest chart position: tip

12 Twilight Zone
Release: August 1982
Highest chart position: 1

“The animal would be tall, blond hair is long, but ‘Long Blond Animal’ just sounds good”. A song that is never left out in live performances. In 1981 we decided to make another live album. It only contained versions of previously recorded songs, except for the cover ‘Slow Down’, a classic by Larry Williams; we were actually more inspired by the John Lennon version by the Beatles. The situation began to be very similar to ten years previously. George had had enough and wanted to begin a solo career. Freddie came to The Hague in a last attempt to fix it. During an emotional meeting it was decided that George would postpone his solo plans and that the Earring would produce one more album. If we were going to quit, it would have to be with a big boom, rather than a burnt out candle. Each of the band members was to contribute songs, to spread the creative pressure. We asked Shell Schellekens to do the production, an ex-drummer who was busy making a name for himself creating innovative sounds. George though: “I’ll keep it simple”, and pulled out a few songs which we meant for his solo record. They included a good one called ‘Twilight Zone’.

We learnt the song and soon found during concerts that its impact was enormous. Two weekends spent recording at Soundpush didn’t produce a good version of the song. This made us nervous and we decided to apply our old tactics: a good demo at George’s house. Using an amateur eight-track recorder (yes, the same one we used for ‘Weekend Love’) and playing in the spare bedroom all the pieces fell into place and we flew through the recording of the rest of the album. At Soundpush the whole thing was copied onto 24 tracks; the overdubs and the mixing were just a formality. When Haayen heard it, he went crazy on the spot. He flew back to New York with this new baby and immediately started his promotional campaign. We had resolved never to go on a financially risky tour again, but the offers were starting to pour in again. The record began to get airplay and another phenomenon came to TV land: the music channel. MTV started in 1981 and made a video clip essential to every record. Since Haayen had left Red Bullet for his foreign escapades, we had been financially dependent on Willem van Kooten’s policy for years. Based on a relatively small Dutch market, the costs were always too high. And now we also needed a clip that would cost 100,000 guilders. “Only if it doesn’t cost much”, said Willem and we called Dick Maas, a film student who was working on the script for a movie that was to bring him fame and fortune: ‘The Lift’. For little money and with a great deal of sacrifice he made us a clip that fitted the song like a glove and that was received in the States as a pioneering piece of work in its genre.

The pressure to accept a tour offer was mounting. Haayen, Leber & Krebbs and Van Kooten felt that a tour was essential in order to promote the single and the album. The album was given the simple title ‘Cut’, which we as guys from The Hague found amusing.

In the Netherlands, this title was mumbled by DJs, if mentioned at all. Of course, in the States it was different. In a radio interview there, Barry said that our next album would be called ‘Lull’. We burst out laughing and of course, the Yanks didn’t get it at all. As you will have guessed, we went in the end. But only under strict conditions. American thieves playing the part of tour manager were something we needed like a hole in the head. Together with my brother Rob, who had been taking care of our bookings for years, we scrutinized the whole thing and using

13 The Devil Made Me Do It
Release: June 1982
Highest chart position: 16

14 When The Lady Smiles
Release: February 1984
Highest chart position: 1

a very strict budget, yours truly personally took charge of the money and became a bass player/bookkeeper for two months. Some people felt it was an embarrassment, a musician collecting the band’s pay, but later we heard that Mick Jagger did the same after narrowly avoiding bankruptcy. The fact remains that it was the first tour from which we made a profit. A friend of mine comes back from the cinema and says to me:
“One of your songs was in that movie”
I say “Which movie?”
He says: “Frankie & Johnnie with Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer”
I say: “You’re kidding me!!”
He says: “No, I’m not, they were dancing to it, and for a long time too!”
I say: “Where’s that movie being shown? That would be such a kick, to see it.” A year and a half later, there we were again, with Shell, at George’s house. Never change a winning team, right?
The little demo studio had now grown into a professional 24-track studio and everyone was ready for some ‘N.E.W.S.’. Schellekens could really indulge himself now as far as the sound production was concerned and that could be heard from the various tracks. All that was missing was the song with hit potential to succeed ‘Twilight Zone’. Well, it was there, but George’s demo of ‘When The Lady Smiles’ sounded a bit too sweet, if not corny and that didn’t fit in with the rest. Not to worry, though, after a week of working on the arrangement and the addition of some electronic

15 Clear Nite, Moonlight
Release: April 1984
Highest chart position: 11

16 N.E.W.S.
Release: June 1984
Highest chart position: tip

17 Something Heavy Going Down
Release: December 1984
Highest chart position: 33

Shock effects, we were very happy with it. Now we needed a video. Phoned Dick Maas… He was still enjoying the success he had had with the ‘Lift’ and had upped his prices a little. We persuaded Van Kooten and did it anyway. The result was beyond all expectations and launched the single on its way to the highest that could be achieved in the Netherlands. We had bad luck in the States. The tour went without a hitch, but the promotion on the single was thwarted by the puritan attitude of the TV stations. The video was considered too shocking and was cut into pieces by the censors. It lost its story and with it its meaning. Whilst ‘Clear Nite’ was still an uncomplicated swinging song, this time with an innocent video clip by Maas, for ‘N.E.W.S.’ we dived into a new trend, that of disco mixes and rap-like vocals.

One night, Barry suddenly woke up with the thought that the four initial letters of the words North, East, West and South together form the words NEWS. This was an interesting starting point for lyrics. For the vizualisation we contacted Paul de Nooyer, who was known to the experts for his intriguing photo and film art. An obvious continuation of the ‘N.E.W.S.’ style; this was the beginning of the dance mix era. The pioneer in that area at the time, Ben Liebrand, gave it a try at our request. And Paul de Nooyer filmed Barry as a video freak exactly the same way U2 would do it ten years later. The title was also used for the live album we made in Leiden after we returned from our last American tour. ‘Something Heavy Going Down’ is the only song on this album that was not recorded live.

There Goes The Old Neighbourhood

1 Quiet Eyes
Release: May 1986
Highest chart position: 9

Around the time when we were busy with the album ‘The Hole’, our story started to get apocalyptic. Shell Schellekens started to go overboard in his attempts to find innovative new sounds and this was to be his last act for the Earring. The band was tired and looked worn out. When we were making the demos, everything still looked promising. There were some very good songs included, such as ‘Quiet Eyes’ and ‘Why Do I’.

Then Haayen came over briefly from the States with an “important radio promoter” in his wake. This gentlemen wanted to discuss a few things with us.

A radio promoter or consultant, whatever, is a person who advises radio stations as to which genre of music they should play, with the aim of attracting more listeners and with them more advertising. On the other hand, these tips can also serve as a guide to music producers, of course for a fee in the form of, for instance, royalties per record sold or shares in the company. So, if he plays his cards right, he can have his cake and eat it.

The consequences are less pleasant for the artists and his audience, because the radio will then only broadcast one kind of music and the record companies will also follow that trend in their choice of productions. Unlike ‘previous cases’ (!) he was willing to give us some advice up front. In short: he had come over to tell us what style of music we should play in order to ensure success in the USA. This was another of those ‘management things’ that went way over our heads. We had never seen this guy before and were collectively disgusted. According to our friend, ‘Quiet Eyes’ was very suitable for the current format, it just needed more resonance. (At the time the American airwaves were completely dominated by rock ballads by Bryan Adams, Foreigner, Journey, etc.) We were not to worry, he would be present personally at the mixing of the song. This was done in a new studio: Willem van Kooten’s Bullet Sound. (It’s better to spend all that money on your own studio, right?) Dramatic scenes took place there, over a lot of alcohol and whatever else.

We noticed one thing: our advisor was constantly taking notes in a small pocketbook. It went on all day, during meals,

2 Why Do I
Release: August 1986
Highest chart position: tip

3 They Dance
Release: December 1986
Highest chart position: tip

In the studio, in the car… Barry was bursting with curiosity and when the man went to the toilet he grabbed the little book from his jacket. It contained … nothing and therefore was a perfect mirror image of its owner.

We splashed out again and in an all-or-nothing attempt ’Quiet Eyes’ was given a very expensive video clip, by the world famous photographer Anton Corbijn, who also provided the album cover with photos. Although we were in a dip on the business side, you would almost forget we had a faithful following in our own country and this became clear to us when we gave a free concert on the beach in Scheveningen that was broadcast live by Veronica, 18th July 1986. Cesar’s birthday. “The drinks are on me!” he yelled during the concert. A little reckless when there are 250,000 people present. We broke all the records, but the most important was the intense feeling it left us with; there was still music in us! The negative state of our balance at Red Bullet had taken on frightening proportions and Van Kooten had lost all confidence in us. In a dramatic letter he told us that the cash flow was to be halted. To top it all off, the Dutch Tax Office really let us have it (unjustly) by means of a raid. It looked like curtains for us, but as has become apparent before, these guys are at their best when they are under fire.

4 My Killer My Shadow
Release: March 1988
Highest chart position: 24

5 Turn The World Around
Release: April 1989
Highest chart position: 10

Free from any form of external policy, we had to do it by ourselves now. The Golden Earring BV was set up and after we had appointed my brother Rob as its director, the first priority was a serious financial reconstruction scheme. Tax specialists solved the tax problem and well-planned performances earned us our daily bread. And… for the first time in 26 years, we produced our own record, produced and released under the CNR label: ‘Keeper Of The Flame’.

Our old friend Dick Maas’ new movie was called ‘Amsterdamned’ Barry and George thought he could use a good title song and wrote one with the same title. Dick thought a sweet song by Loïs Lane was more suitable (Not a wise move, Dick!) and so our song was renamed ‘My Killer, My Shadow’.

To prove we were still friends, Dick made a spectacular video for ‘Turn The World Around’. Besides the base recordings, we now also wanted to do the mixing in George’s studio in Belgium. For this job we asked a guy from our generation whom we have admired for years for his skill: John Sonneveld. John came, stayed and is still here!

6 Going To The Run
Release: April 1991
Highest chart position: 3

7 Temporary Madness
Release: August 1991
Highest chart position: 26

8 Pouring My Heart Out Again
Release: November 1991
Highest chart position: tip

9 I Can’t Sleep Without You
Release: November 1992
Highest chart position: 21

After an extensive period of time, Fred Haayen came back from the States to live in the Netherlands. He was to do us one last favour, as a negotiator in the contract discussions with Sony Records for a period that would produce 4 CDs. Not long after, we parted (business) company and he left the business to go into the development of building projects. The first CD, ‘Bloody Buccaneers’, was recorded in Belgium, with John Sonneveld as the producer. Not long before, a friend of Barry’s, Ed, had been killed in a motorbike accident. At his funeral they played ‘Can’t Be Much Worse Than Going Blind’, from Barry’s solo album, ‘Victory Of Bad Taste’. Afterwards one of the many friends present asked Barry to write a song in Ed’s memory. That same evening his pen produced ‘Goin To The Run’. Around this time, the unplugged sessions on MTV were a trend; almost every rock band or artist was doing them. I noticed that the artists with long histories came out best: Clapton, Neil Young, Rod Stewart, etc. “We could do that”, I suggested. George almost always presents his compositions on the acoustic guitar

10 Another 45 Miles (live)
Release: March 1993
Highest chart position: 25

And over the years he has developed a great skill on this instrument. We had plenty of songs available to us and it didn’t necessarily need to cost a lot. At Sony they weren’t very enthusiastic; they were willing to go along with the idea, but as far as the contract was concerned, it would not count as one of the 3 planned CDs. We were given a small budget and Veronica would pay a part as well, and would get a TV special in return. The location Grand Café De Kroon at the Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam was ours for three days. With around 80 guests each day we had some fantastic parties and it shows on the CD and video. Besides all the well-known songs, we had also managed to learn two new songs: ‘The Naked Truth’ was to give the whole thing its name and ‘singalong’ ‘I Can’t Sleep Without You’ was a perfect single. Dear reader, if you feel sympathetic towards us, you can now breath a sigh of relief. Our soap opera is about to take a positive turn. ‘The Naked Truth’ became our best-sold album. Willem van Kooten was repaid all his money (and more). And the Dutch theatres had a new act. In addition to our usual concerts, this meant we were playing till we dropped.

11 As Long As The Wind Blows
Release: November 1993
Highest chart position: 34

12 Hold Me Now
Release: October 1994
Highest chart position: 11

13 Johnny Make Believe
Release: January 1995
Highest chart position: tip

A second beach concert, even more impressive if that’s possible, was broadcast by Veronica on radio and TV. In the acoustic part of the show, this song from 1970 attracts attention and is made into a single. It was time for another studio album. However, we liked the concept of performing live. It had to be possible to combine the two and so we set up in George’s garage. Artist, and soul mate of Barry’s, Henk Schiffmacher provided the building with murals derived from his designs for the cover for the CD that was to be called ‘Face It’. It had a positive influence on the atmosphere and over the next few days we invited around 40 friends and acquaintances to serve as an audience. In the afternoons and evening we’d all go into the garage for an hour and play the well-rehearsed songs. With good catering and beautiful weather it looked more like a garden party than a studio session.

Barry: “For years I’ve had this idea for a musical. The story was about a boy who was great at telling lies and making up stories. In the Second World War he was the first to drive into Berlin with General Eisenhower and he had slept with Marilyn Monroe and more like that… Then the movie “Forrest Gump” was released, with Tom Hanks in the lead role, and it has the same theme. So I laid the project to rest, just like John Make Believe in the song of the same title”.

14 Angel
Release: March 1995
Highest chart position: tip

15 This Wheel’s On Fire
Release: February 1996
Highest chart position: tip

16 Burning Stuntman
Release: August 1997
Highest chart position: 19

There are various ways to go about turning music and lyrics into a song. The way we usually do it is as follows. George plays the accompaniment on the guitar, onto a cassette and sings the line of the tune over it, with just sounds and a keyword here and there. Without words, it sounds like an Indian with a sore throat. Barry: “ I then take the tape home and try to write lyrics that will fit. It’s not easy, because after listening for a while you can’t get the demo out of your head, so you look for words that sound the same and then they also have to make sense! One time I went on holiday and took the demo for ‘Angel’ with me to write the lyrics for it. After a day I was getting worried. A whole book wouldn’t be enough for this song. After three days of writing, I could see my holiday going down the drain; the lyrics sounded perfect when you sang them, but in order to follow the story you needed a lot of imagination. Knowing George has a liking for abstract lyrics, I took the chance: the notepad disappeared into the suitcase and I disappeared into the swimming pool.

One wish we had had right from the very start, was granted when we made this record with songs from other artists who have inspired us over the years. We used to perform live with some of them (In the sixties you would perform for four hours in one evening, so you needed plenty of songs). Making ‘Love Sweat’ therefore gave us a lot of pleasure. We played the Dylan song ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’ around 1969 on our first American tour. The version is based on the one by Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger & Trinity, though.

Special attention should be paid to the orchestral arrangement, written by Robert-Jan Stips; he had already proved his skill at this on albums such as ‘Switch’ and ‘To The Hilt’. The contract with Sony had come to an end, we couldn’t come to an agreement on an extension, so we went into negotiations with another candidate. Again it was CNR.

17 Paradise in Distress
Release: 1999
Highest chart position: 24

18 Yes! We’re On Fire
Release: August 2000
Highest chart position: unknown as yet

Partially thanks to the presence of Ruud van Dulkenraad, an expert we had known since he interviewed us for Muziek Expres magazine in 1965 (!). Ruud didn’t want to wait long for a new project and with great power of persuasion was able to get us enthusiastic for ‘Naked II’. After a few years of performing in the Dutch theatres, there were so many songs in our repertoire that were not on ‘The Naked Truth’, that a recording of a performance in Luxor Rotterdam was justified.

We put in the extra studio track ‘Burning Stuntman’ as a joke, edited in as a kind of interlude tune between the first and last part of the show. For the album, ‘Paradise In Distress’, a typical nineties production, we made use of all the facilities that a modern studio, and especially George’s, has to offer. 29 August 2000, the moment at which I’m writing this. We are enjoying a sabbatical year and are recharging the batteries. We made one exception, though. The Dutch Olympic Committee approached us at the end of last year and asked us to record a song with the Olympic Games as its theme; that seemed to us to be too honourable a challenge to turn down. It was on the radio a minute ago, so I gave the old volume dial a turn…
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