FOCUS in 1970. From left to right: Pierre van der Linden, Cyril Havermans, Jan Akkerman
and Thijs van Leer

The Netherlands are a place where the musicians recognized rock music very early. Since the sixties, great bands were created (Golden Earring, for example). Meanwhile, the more eminent was the Dutch FOCUS.

FOCUS began its work in the end of the 60´s with Thijs Van Leer (flute,organ), Martin Dresden (bass) and Hans Cleuver (drums). They were thinking to form a band like Steve Winwood´s TRAFFIC, but destiny changes ones ways. They were invited to support the cast from the Dutch version of HAIR. Afterwards, the first LP was produced, with the addition of guitarist Jan Akkerman.

This LP was not successful, and Akkerman, discouraged, left the group to form another, with his friends Pierre Van der Linden (drums) and Cyril Havermans
(bass).With Pierre Van der Linden, Akkerman had played in two other bands before: THE HUNTERS and BRAINBOX. When Thijs Van Leer noticed that they decided to work together, they asked him to be included too. And they kept the name FOCUS, of course.

This quartet made the LP "Moving waves", on which Thijs Van Leer sang in a traditional vocal style called yodeling, wich you can hear on "Hocus Pocus" on this LP, and on "HAMBURGER CONCERTO".

In the end of 1970, still in the Netherlands, they met Mike Vernon, the producer that supported FOCUS to make success over the world, starting in England. 1972 was the year of "FOCUS 3", a double album, with the big hit "Sylvia". In this album Cyril Havermans was replaced by Bert Ruiter. On May 5, 1973, FOCUS made a majestic presentation at the Rainbow Theatre, London (we can hear the show in the LP "Live at the Rainbow").

Classic FOCUS Picture

From left to right : Bert Ruiter, Thijs Van Leer, Jan Akkerman and Pierre Van Der Linden

Afterwards, Pierre Van der Linden left FOCUS because he disagreed with Bert Ruiter´s intention to make the FOCUS music more commercial, to please the american showbiz. His substitute was Collin Allen (Ex John Mayall band). With Collin Allen, FOCUS recorded the notable "HAMBURGER CONCERTO", a return to erudite suites, and "MOTHER FOCUS" more commercial. In the middle of the record sessions of "MOTHER FOCUS", Collin Allen left. In his place came in David Kemper, an American drummer.

After "MOTHER FOCUS", Akkerman left the band, and FOCUS left the scene until 1977. Only a compilation was available in this period, produced by Mike Vernon, with unreleased tracks, called "SHIP OF MEMORIES".

In 1977, FOCUS returned with P.J.Proby, a veteran, on vocals.The others musicians were : Thijs Van Leer, Bert Ruiter, Eef Albers (guitar), Phillip Catherine (guitarist very popular in the jazz circuit) and Steve Smith (drums).

From left to right = Bert Ruiter, David Kemper, Thijs van Leer and Philip Catherine

In the 80's

One more time, FOCUS left the scene, this time for long years, to return in 1985, based on the duo of Jan Akkerman and Thijs Van Leer, and with these guest musicians : Tato Gomez (bass), Ruud Jacobs (bass), Ustad Zamir Ahmad Khan (tabla) and Sergio Castillo (drum programer). The LP sounds like others FOCUS records, with long instrumental suites, supported by polyphonic keyboards played by Thijs Van Leer. But this LP had a peculiar difference: electronic drums! A videoclip for the song "Russian-Roulette" was produced by the Netherlands TV.

In the 90's

Focus in the Dutch TVIn 1990 the Dutch fans could appreciate FOCUS in the TV programs, with its classic formation: Bert Ruiter, Pierre van der Linden, Jan and Thijs. The programs were "Veronika" and "Goud van Oud" (something as "golden hits from the past"). They showed classics of the band (Tommy, Focus 2, Focus 3, Sylvia, House of the king...), any new composition. Worth to mention that Thijs and Jan also divided the stage of the "North Sea Jazz Festival" in 1993, an international and traditional festival in the north of Holland.

¨ For a detailed biography of each artist, click here.

¨ For a resumed biography of each artist, click here.

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¨ An interesting iterview with Thijs van Leer in 1997

Sleevenotes from:

¨ The Story of Focus compilation

¨ Focus on Focus compilation

¨ Focus "Attention!" compilation

¨ In and Out of Focus

¨ Moving Waves compilation

¨ Focus Special compilation

Text in this page by Valdir Montanari. Revised by Dan Barrett. Thanks, Dan ! Pictures 1 and 2 sent by Tim Baugh. Picture 3 sent by Andre Piquet.
This page made by Rodrigo Mantovani.