Golden Earring are a Dutch rock band, founded in 1961 in The Hague as the Golden Earrings (the 's' was dropped in 1969). They had international chart success with the songs "Radar Love" in 1973, "Twilight Zone" in 1982, and "When The Lady Smiles" in 1984. 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 have sold millions of albums worldwide, and they are one of the oldest rock bands in the world that are still performing today. 2009 marks the return of the band to the UK and the release of a new studio album.
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 by another group. The name Golden Earrings was taken from a song, originally sung by Murvyn Vye in 1947 and a hit for Peggy Lee in 1948, with which they opened their concerts. Initially a pop rock band with Frans Krassenburg as lead singer, 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 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 from reaching 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 Digi Dong". This was followed by a successful psychedelic album Eight Miles High, which featured an eighteen-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.
Lead singer Barry Hay in 1974
The band enjoyed brief international superstar status in the Seventies 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. Due to American influences, their music evolved towards hard rock, and they performed along with Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. 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. In the early seventies, when "Radar Love" was a hit, they had KISS and Aerosmith as their opening act.
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 #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 the that the music video of the song was banned from MTV, due to 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 U.S. in 1984, the band played at the Great Arena of Six Flags Great Adventure 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 club 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 "????????? ?????" ("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 other continents since 1984. They have never toured Asia, South America or Australia.
Currently, the band is working on their latest studio release, their first studio album since the 2003 album Millbrook USA. This album was recorded in Millbrook, New York state, at the studio of fellow musician Frank Carillo.
March 2009 Golden Earring will do two gigs in the UK for the first time in thirty years, with one concert on at The Shepherd's Bush Empire in London and one show at Ipswich Regent Theatre on , 2009.
Golden Earring celebrated their 47th anniversary in 2008 and have been performing almost continuously since their foundation in 1961. They have had the same unchanged line-up of the same four musicians and friends since 1970, augmented 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 the oldest rock band that are still performing today, and Golden Earring has arguably the most stable lineup of these veteran bands. 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 Curacao in the Caribbean, where he put up his new residence and lives during the band's time off.
Golden Earring was one of the first major European rock bands to tour the United States, in 1969. They were at first inspired by The Beatles and other sixties pop groups like The Kinks. In 1966, Golden Earring performed together with The Kinks (famous for "Lola") during a legendary concert in The Hague, Holland. On their first USA tour bands like Led Zeppelin and The Doors inspired Golden Earring's music and professionality. They saw that the Americans had very good soundsystems and electrical equipment. Later, they were influenced by Pink Floyd, Santana, and The Who when they performed together during their many American tours. In total, the band has been in over 40 US states, including Hawaii.
Golden Earring has used many styles of rock and pop music, and in many of the over 400 songs they have recorded, influences of hard rock, rap, disco, folk, country, gospel and even Latin can be heard. In the past, their music was more psychedelic and progressive; this can be heard on albums like Moontan, Wall of Dolls and Eight Miles High. Golden Earring always seek ways to experiment with new styles and variations in the music they make. The band has always used the newest fashion in gear and equipment and have experimented with several PA systems, such as quadrophonia, which made Barry's flute sing through a whole venue from all four directions where the speakers were positioned. Usually they are their own producers, backed up by other professionals. The band has developed a strong influence in the studio, because they feel that it is very important to create the typical Earring-sound in the recording studio. This is why the band often plays together "live" in the studio, so that the original live sound is approached in the best way possible, instead of recording every vocal and instrument separately and putting them together in the final mix.