Golden Earring is a Dutch rock band, founded in 1961 in The Hague as the Golden Earrings (the 's' was dropped in 1969). They achieved worldwide fame with their international hit songs "Radar Love" in 1973, "Twilight Zone" aka When the Bullet Hits the Bone in 1982, and "When the Lady Smiles" in 1984. During their career they had nearly 30 top-ten singles on the Dutch charts; over the years they produced 25 studio albums. Current members of Golden Earring are Barry Hay (vocals, guitar, flute and saxophone, member since 1967), 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 The Golden Earrings when they discovered that the name The Tornados was already in use by another group. The name The Golden Earrings was taken from a song called Golden Earring performed by the British group The Hunters, whom they served as opening and closing act for. Initially a pop-rock band with Frans Krassenburg on lead vocals and Jaap Eggermont on drums, The 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. While The Fab Four had their "Fifth Beatle" in George Martin, the Earrings used session pianist Cees Schrama on their records. Dissatisfied with Dutch recording studios, the band's manager and co-discoverer Fred Haayen arranged for the next single to be recorded at the Pye Records studios in London. The record cut at Pye, "That Day", reached number two on the Dutch charts, prevented only from reaching the number one position by The Beatles' "Michelle".
In 1967, Barry Hay joined the band, replacing Krassenburg as frontman for the group. The following year, the band earned their first number one hit in the Netherlands with the song "Dong Dong Diki Digi Dong." In the United States, ground work for entering the US market was being laid by East Coast FM radio Disc Jockey and music critic—Neil Kempfer-Stocker, who is credited as the first radio DJ to champion the band stateside. This single was followed by a successful psychedelic album Eight Miles High, which featured an 18-minute version of the title track, itself a cover of the 1966 hit song by The Byrds. The live version, which could last 45 minutes, was considered by some to be a highlight in their first and second American tours, in the middle of the hippie and flower power era in the same year Woodstock was organised: 1969. The band's American records at this time period were issued by the Perception Records label in New York, and the band's "'Wall of Dolls'" LP and single 'Back Home' performed poorly in the US but became a number 1 hit in their native country The Netherlands.
In 1970, drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk joined the band, completing what has become Golden Earring's classic (and most enduring) lineup. Cesar was known to use a catapult to launch himself over his drum-kit at the culmination of his drum solos. The band enjoyed brief international superstar status in the 1970s when the single version of "Radar Love", from the Gold-certified album Moontan became a hit in both Europe and the USA. Golden Earring embarked on their first major US tour in 1969 - 1970, and were among the first European bands to do so. Owing to American influences, their music evolved towards hard rock, and they performed along with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Procol Harum, and Eric Clapton. Between 1969 and 1984, Golden Earring completed 13 US tours. During this period, they performed as the opening act for Santana, King Crimson, The Doobie Brothers, Rush and .38 Special. During 1973–74, when "Radar Love" was a hit, they had Kiss and Aerosmith as their opening act. While signed to the UK Track Records label, the band rented the superb quadraphonic sound system normally used exclusively by The Who.
They enjoyed a brief period of US stardom but were unable to secure further chart success until 1982's "Twilight Zone". The music video of the song, directed by Dick Maas, was one of the first rock videos played on the recently launched MTV in the United States, and helped the song to become a Top Ten hit.
"When the Lady Smiles" became an international hit in 1984, reaching No. 3 in Canada and becoming the band's fifth number one hit in their native country, but received a disappointing reaction in the United States. The reason for this lack of success was that the music video of the song was banned from MTV, because of nudity and a scene portraying the rape of a nun. An edited version of the video was shown, but failed to convey its original intentions. While touring the US in 1984, the band played at the Great Arena of Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey on May 11 and were in the midst of their concert when a fire at the Haunted Castle began on the opposite side of the theme park, killing eight teenagers. Following this tour, Golden Earring turned their focus toward Europe where they continue to attract standing-room-only crowds.
In 1991, Golden Earring scored another hit in the Netherlands with "Going to the Run", a rock-ballad about a Hells Angels motorcycle gang member who was a friend of the band and died in a crash. A "run" is what a motorcycle club calls an event consisting of riding their bikes somewhere together. The Russian rock band Aria made a successful cover of "Going to the Run" as "Беспечный ангел" ("Careless Angel"). From 1992 to 2004, the band released three acoustic live unplugged albums, which became an instant success. Since 1992, they have performed acoustic unplugged theater-shows which continue to this date and usually sell out. The acoustic albums feature unplugged versions of famous hits of the band, and have been some of the band's best selling albums, such as The Naked Truth, which sold over 500,000 copies in the Netherlands alone.
Known for their powerful live performances, Golden Earring perform over 200 concerts a year, mainly in their home country of the Netherlands and occasionally in Belgium, Germany and the UK. These energetic live performances have been recorded on several live albums - Live, recorded at London's Rainbow Theater in 1977; 2nd Live, 1981; Something Heavy Going Down, 1984 (also released on DVD as Live from the Twilight Zone); and Last Blast of the Century, a live recording of their last concert of the 20th century (available on both CD and DVD). Furthermore, the band's acoustic live albums include The Naked Truth (1992), Naked II (1997) and Naked III (2005). Their latest live album, Live from Ahoy 2006, is a DVD with bonus CD.
Golden Earring have not toured in North America or outside Europe since 1984. They have never toured Asia, South America or Australia.
In 2003 the band briefly returned to the USA to record the studio album Millbrook USA. Recording took place in Millbrook, New York, at the studio of fellow musician Frank Carillo.
March 2009 Golden Earring did two gigs in the UK for the first time in 30 years, with one concert on 14 March 2009 at The Shepherd's Bush Empire in London and one show at Ipswich Regent Theatre on March 13, 2009.
Golden Earring celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2011 and have been performing almost continuously since their founding in 1961. They have had the same unchanged line-up of the same four musicians and friends since 1970, augmented from time to time with a fifth member (Dutch keyboardist and leader of legendary band Supersister, Robert Jan Stips). Along with the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, and Germany's The Lords, Golden Earring are one of the oldest rock bands that are still performing today, and Golden Earring has arguably the most stable lineup of these veteran bands. (Texas band ZZ Top holds the record for stable membership, but is a younger band, being formed in 1969.) For now, Golden Earring's gigs are scheduled on a "one month on—one month off" basis. This is mainly due to lead singer Barry Hay's relocation to the Dutch Antilles island of Curaçao in the Caribbean, where he put up his new residence and lives during the band's time off.
On October 10, 2011, at the Historical Museum of The Hague, PostNL presented the first postage stamp with music. This stamp was issued in honour of the 50th anniversary of the legendary Dutch band Golden Earring. When a smartphone with a special app is held up to the music stamp, Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” plays. This stamp is the first in a series of music stamps encoding real sound highlighting the greatest pop albums ever released in the Netherlands. PostNL is the first in the world with this concept. Band member and co-founder Rinus Gerritsen accepted the first sheetlet from PostNL. Moontan has been, internationally, Golden Earring's most successful album. In celebration of the band’s 50th anniversary, PostNL has selected Moontan as the subject of the first stamp in this series.
The 50th anniversary of Golden Earring was celebrated at the Hague Historical Museum in their hometown The Hague, with a special temporary exhibition on the band, their music, lifetime and influences. On display were singles, albums, posters, t-shirts, instruments, handwritings and portraits. The nightlife scene of the 1960s and 1970s was also highlighted, as well as a remake of a typical teenage bedroom of the 1960s. The expo was called 'Golden Earring - Back Home' and ran until February 2012.
May 11, 2012 the band released their latest studio album Tits 'n Ass. The album was recorded in London during summer of 2011 with producer Chris Kimsey and peaked at #1 in the Dutch album charts twice. In order to produce a more intense sound on stage and on this album the band has been augmented with singer and keyboard player Johnny Rooymans. The album features the song Still Got the Keys to My First Cadillac which is marketed as their newest single. A videoclip for this song is being recorded starring young impersonators of 'Golden Earring'.
- Biography by Golden Earring founder and bass player Rinus Gerritsen published on the band's website.
- Biographical books on the Golden Earring: Haagsche Bluf by Pieter Franssen, 1993, and Rock die niet roest by prof. Maarten Steenmeyer, 2005. Both titles are in Dutch.
- The Story of Golden Earring by Karin and Mechteld Beks, Picture publishers, an authorized biography published on the occasion of the band's 45th anniversary. Text in Dutch. (2005)
- Interviews with the band over the years, many of which can be traced back through the Golden Earring Museum website.
- "What happened in Golden Earring history on..." at Golden Earring Research Website.
- Official website
- Radar Love 300+ cover versions of the song: U2, R.E.M., Santana, Bryan Adams, Def Leppard, James Last and others
- Golden Earring Record Research
- Full colour Golden Earring discography
- Real audio of George Kooymans English interview for 'MusicMirror' (click on George's photo)
- Golden Earring Fansite
- Golden Earring(s) at WorldMusicDatabase
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