Golden Earring was a Dutch rock band, active from 1961 to 2021. The best known and internationally most succesful rock band to come out of the Netherlands (The Hague, to be precise), they had 47 chart hits in their home country. Outside of The Netherlands they are best known for their brace of North American hits, Radar Love (1973, a U.S. hit in 1974) and Twilight Zone (1982, a U.S. hit in 1983).
Formed in 1961, the band was active for over 60 years non-stop (56 years of studio output, starting in 1965), which made them the world's longest surviving rock band, formed a year before The Rolling Stones, until their tragic demise on 5 February 2021, when founding member George Kooymans revealed that he had been diagnosed with ALS.
The band's core line-up of four was unchanged from 1970 to 2021, although extra musicians had short stints in the band in the 1970s. Golden Earring was always on tour, except in 2000 (their only sabbatical year) and 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 1961 George Kooymans (age 13) and his neighbour Rinus Gerritsen (age 15) formed The Tornado's 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, and played its first gigs at school parties.
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 Ear-rings (after a Peggy Lee song). The band now performed around The Hague and soon had a devoted local following, as well as a record deal with Polydor. Their début single, 1965's Please Go, landed in the Dutch Top 10.
Under the Golden Earrings moniker the band eventually recorded four albums and had twelve hit singles in the Netherlands between 1965 and 1969, ten of which reached the Dutch Top 10. Several of their records were released internationally in Europe and even North America, although they failed to make an impact there.
One of the band's sixties singles was their first Dutch #1 hit: 1968's somewhat carnavalesque Dong-Dong-Diki-Digi-Dong, although that tune is now frowned upon by the band and generally regarded as inferior to other sixties Earrings gems, such as That Day (1966, the first Dutch pop single to have been recorded in the U.K., at London's Pye Studios), Sound Of The Screaming Day (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. He 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, in 1970, Cesar Zuiderwijk (ex-Livin' Blues), Golden Earring's definitive drummer.
The band's international career modestly started to take off in 1969, the year of their psychedelic Eight Miles High album, their first haphazard tour of the United States and also the year in which the band name was slightly changed into The Golden Earring and finally (dropping the article within a year), Golden Earring. On their early U.S. tours, their long, wild cover version of The Byrds' classic Eight Miles High impressed audiences and press alike. Golden Earring's 19-minute album version, as well as the stand-alone 1969 single, Another 45 Miles, were the first Golden Earring recording to get some North American airplay.
The arrival of drummer, Cesar Zuiderwijk, in 1970, completed 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 psychedelica and hippie rock in 1968 and 1969, the single Back Home marked the birth of Golden Earring's trademark heavy, riff-based brand of hard rock with catchy hooks. Back Home hit #1 in the Dutch charts and 'broke' Golden Earring in European countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France.
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. Buddy Joe (1972) achieved considerable chart success in the German-speaking countries of Europe, but 1973's Radar Love was their breakthrough smash hit worldwide: #13 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, #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), to name but a few.
Radar Love is an enduring 'car classic' and radio anthem of global fame. Between 1969 and 1985 Golden Earring completed ten 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. Golden Earring toured as 'special guests' of The Who, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, .38 Special, Rush and many more. Bands like Aerosmith, KISS, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd opened for Golden Earring. The album that spawned Radar Love, 1973's Moontan, was certified 'Gold' by the RIAA in 1974 and sold millions of copies worldwide.
The band failed to achieve similar chart success in the years after Radar Love: the progressive Switch (1975) and To The Hilt (1976) albums yielded no U.S. 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 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks, thanks to heavy MTV rotation of the Dick Maas-directed video. The song (#1 in The Netherlands) revived Golden Earring's stateside career overnight. The Cut LP was certified 'gold' in Canada, where Twilight Zone hit #3 in the charts.
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. 'Lady' peaked at #3 in Canada, but fared disappointingly 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 suggested.
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 wrote one of their most enduring 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, slowly became their all-time biggest selling album in The Netherlands. 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 2.5 million copies outside of The Netherlands and was certified 'gold' in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom (and platinum in the U.S. in later years).
Golden Earring released 25 studio albums, 8 live albums and countless succesful compilations. Almost all of these records were certified gold, often platinum, in The Netherlands. More than anything else, though, the band remained a live force of legendary status in their home country and beyond. They did dozens of live shows each year until the very end, 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 - 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. Certified 'gold' in The Netherlands, the album was generally believed to be Golden Earring's final studio outing, but December 2015 saw the release of a five-track mini album entitled The Hague, released more than fifty years after their début single and just before the band's sold out 'Five Zero' anniversary concert at Amsterdam's Ziggo Dome. 2019 saw the release of a stand-alone single, Say When: Golden Earring's final studio recording.
Nobody was aware of it at the time, but the band's 16 November 2019 performance at the Rotterdam Ahoy would turn out to be their final concert. After a year of Covid-19 lockdowns, guitarist George Kooymans announced his ALS diagnosis on 5 February 2021, rendering him unable to perform. Later that day, the band admitted that a future without Kooymans was unthinkable. In the words of lead singer, Barry Hay: "This is the end of the line for the band. It's a death blow. We always said: we'll keep on playing until the first one of us goes down. I never expected it to be George."
The band's final performance was released as a live CD and DVD in April 2022, named after Barry Hay's final words at the end of countless Golden Earring shows: You Know We Love You!.
Studio albums (released as Golden Earring, unless noted otherwise)
Just Ear-rings (1965, as The Golden Earrings or The Golden Ear-rings)
Winter-Harvest (1967, as Golden Earrings, sometimes spelled as Winter Harvest)
Miracle Mirror (1968, as Golden Earrings)
On The Double (1969, as Golden Earrings)
Eight Miles High (1969, as The Golden Earring)
Golden Earring (1970, colloquially known as '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, spelled as No Promises, No Debts on most online platforms)
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)
The Hague (EP, 2015)
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, incorrectly listed as Naked Truth III on some streaming platforms)
Live In Ahoy 2006 (2006, live DVD - CD set)
You Know We Love You! (2022, live DVD - CD set)