Golden Earring is the best known and internationally most succesful rock band to come out of the Netherlands. Formed in 1961, Golden Earring has been active for more than 50 years non-stop, which makes Golden Earring the world's longest surviving rock band, formed a year before The Rolling Stones. The current line-up has been unchanged since 1970. In 1961 George Kooymans (age 13) and his neighbour Rinus Gerritsen (age 15) formed The Tornados in the Zuiderpark district of their home town of The Hague, The Netherlands.
Formed in 1961, Golden Earring has been active for more than 50 years non-stop, which makes Golden Earring the world's longest surviving rock band, formed a year before The Rolling Stones. The current line-up has been unchanged since 1970.
In 1961 George Kooymans (age 13) and his neighbour Rinus Gerritsen (age 15) formed The Tornados in the Zuiderpark district of their home town of The Hague, The Netherlands. The band's first line-up mainly played The Shadows and The Ventures covers, as well as other instrumental tunes.
In 1963, as the band found out that there already was a British band called The Tornados, they decided to change their name into The Golden Earrings (after a Peggy Lee song). The band soon had a devoted local following. Under the Golden Earrings moniker the band eventually recorded four albums and had twelve hit singles in the Netherlands between 1965 and 1969, of which ten reached the Dutch Top 10.
One of the band's sixties singles was their first #1 hit in The Netherlands: 1968's carnavalesque Dong-Dong-Diki-Digi-Dong, although that tune is now frowned upon by the band and generally regarded as inferior to other early Earrings gems, such as That Day (1966), Daddy Buy Me a Girl (1966) and the epic Just A Little Bit Of Peace In My Heart (1969).
The band's lead singer during the early Golden Earrings years was Frans Krassenburg, who was replaced by Barry Hay (ex-the haigs) in 1967. The band's drummer for much of the 1960s was Jaap eggermont. His successors were Sieb Warner (1969) and, finally Cesar Zuiderwijk (ex-Livin' Blues) in 1970.
The band's international career modestly started to take off in 1969, the year of their psychedelic Eight Miles High album, their first tour of the U.S. and also the year in which the band name was slightly changed into The Golden Earring (the article 'The' was dropped within a year). On their early U.S. tours, their long, wild live cover version of The Byrds' classic Eight Miles High impressed audiences and press. Golden Earring's 19-minute album version, as well as the stand-alone 1969 single Another 45 Miles, were the first Golden Earring songs to get some U.S. airplay.
A year after these facts, in 1970, a new dummer was recruited, replacing Sieb Warner after his very brief stint. The new line-up was the line-up that is still active today: Barry Hay (lead vocals/guitar/flute), George Kooymans (guitar/vocals), Cesar Zuiderwijk (drums) and Rinus Gerritsen (bass/harmonica/keyboards).
1970 saw a dramatic shift in Golden Earring's musical style. After the melodic, often Beatle-esque sixties beat of The Golden Earrings and a brief phase of psychedelic and hippie rock, the single Back Home marked the birth of Golden Earring's trademark heavy, riff-based brand of rock with catchy, sometimes remarkably 'poppy' hooks. Back Home hit #1 in the Dutch charts, 'broke' Golden Earring in European countries such as Germany and France, as well as Japan, where Back Home reached #5 in the charts.
It marked the start of a decade of domestic and international glory. Between 1966 and 1976 seventeen consecutive Earring singles rocketed into the Dutch Top 10, while their international popularity increased, especially after their lengthy 1972 tour of Europe, supporting The Who. The 1973 hit single Radar Love was their breakthrough smash hit worldwide: #13 in the U.S., #5 in Britain, #8 in Australia, #10 in Canada, #5 in Germany, #6 in Belgium, #1 in Spain and also #1 in (last but not least) Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
Radar Love still is a 'car song' and classic rock radio anthem of global fame. Between 1969 and 1985 Golden Earring completed thirteen major tours of North America, building a considerable North American fanbase, as well as five headlining tours of Great Britain in 1973 and 1974 alone.
The band failed to achieve similar chart success in the years after Radar Love: the progressive Switch (1975) and To the Hilt (1976) yielded no hits and were clearly not what North American audiences wanted from the 'Radar Love guys'.
Golden Earring was forgotten by many outside of The Netherland and by 1980 even Dutch audiences started to lose interest: albums such as No Promises... No Debts (1979) and Prisoner Of The Night (1980) were commercial flops, leading to the band's decision (in 1981) to record a 'farewell album' and then call it quits.
The lead single from 1982's 'farewell album' Cut, a Kooymans-penned tune called Twilight Zone, surprisingly became an even bigger hit in the U.S. than Radar Love: #10 in the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in Billboard Rock Tracks, thanks to heavy MTV rotation of the Dick Maas-directed video. The song (#1 in The Netherlands) did not become as much of a worldwide classic as Radar Love, but revived Golden Earring's stateside career overnight.
In their native Netherlands the band did manage to extend their creative and commercial peak, this time: the single When The Lady Smiles and the album N.E.W.S. ('NorthEastWestSouth'), both released in 1984, repeated the success of Twilight Zone and Cut. The 'Lady' peaked at #3 in Canada, but was a failure in the U.S. as MTV and even radio stations banned the track because of its controversial video, once again directed by Dick Maas, in which the rape of a nun was shown.
Ironically, given its lack of U.S. success, the song was used by Hillary Clinton during the early stages of her 2008 presidential campaign (her husband had used Radar Love for his campaign, in 1992).
After 1985 things rapidly went downhill for Golden Earring internationally (they would not tour the U.S. again), but - after a creative and financial crisis that lasted throughout the second half of the 1980s - the band scored one of their most lasting Dutch hits in 1991 (the power-ballad, Going To The Run) and discovered a new gold mine in their home country a year later: acoustic concerts in theatres, the concept of MTV Unplugged.
To everybody's surprise, the band's acoustic live album, The Naked Truth, gradually became their all-time biggest selling album in Holland. Its sequels, Naked II (1997) and Naked III (2005) also went platinum at least once in The Netherlands.
Golden Earring's by far most succesful album internationally remains 1973's Moontan, which sold well over a million copies outside of The Netherlands and was certified 'gold' in the U.S.
As of May 2012 Golden Earring now released 25 studio albums, 8 live albums and numerous succesful compilations. Almost all of these records were certified 'gold', sometimes 'platinum' in The Netherlands. More than anything else, though, the band remained a live force of legendary status in their home country. They still do dozens of live shows each year (electric as well as unplugged), almost exclusively in the Netherlands, although there are still occasional live appearances in Belgium and Germany. 2009 saw Golden Earring's long overdue return to the United Kingdom: their sold out shows in Ipswich and London's Shepherd's Bush Empire were their first live appearances in England since 1978.
In 2011 the band recorded their first album of new material since 2003's Millbrook U.S.A.: Tits 'n Ass - studio album #25 for the Dutch legends and generally expected to be their final studio LP - was released on 11 May 2012 on Universal Music and hit #1 in the Dutch album charts one week after its release to become Golden Earring's 8th #1 album in their home country.
Just Earrings (1965, as The Golden Earrings)
Winter Harvest (1967, as The Golden Earrings)
Miracle Mirror (1968, as The Golden Earrings)
On the Double (1969, as The Golden Earrings)
Eight Miles High (1969)
Golden Earring (1970, a.k.a. 'Wall Of Dolls')
Seven Tears (1971)
To the Hilt (1976)
Contraband (1976, U.S. title: Mad Love)
Grab It For A Second (1978)
No Promises... No Debts (1979)
Prisoner Of The Night (1980)
The Hole (1986)
Keeper of the Flame (1989)
Bloody Buccaneers (1991)
Face It (1994)
Love Sweat (1995, covers album)
Paradise in Distress (1999)
Millbrook U.S.A. (2003)
Tits 'n Ass (2012)
2nd Live (1981)
Something Heavy Going Down (1984, includes one new studio track)
The Naked Truth (1992, acoustic)
Naked II (1997, acoustic)
Last Blast of the Century (2000)
Naked III (2005, acoustic)
Live In Ahoy 2006 (2006, live DVD + CD set)