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Archive for July, 2010

Focus on Pinkpop Festival

FOCUS will be remembered as a band that, uniquely, brought instrumental music back into the charts in the early seventies (epitomised by the yodelling epic ‘Hocus Pocus’ and the glorious ‘Sylvia’) and – at the time of Britain’s entry to the “Common Market” – blazing a trail for European music both in the UK and the States where they enjoyed hit singles and albums. In Thijs van Leer and Jan Akkerman they also had two of rock’s finest instrumentalists.

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Focus on Pinkpop Festival

(Video hosted on Youtube.)

n the eve of their sell-out UK tour, in February 1976, Focus’ guitarist Jan Akkerman quit the band. This somewhat shocking news came after incessant touring and internal disagreements caused a creative hiatus. This manifest itself in the 1975 album ‘Mother Focus’ which received mixed reviews. Hugh Fielder writing in ‘Melody Maker’ thought the band had lost the thrusting side of their nature.

Thijs van Leer, the band’s founder and longest-surviving member, managed to enrol jazz fusion guitarist Philip Catherine for the tour. By the time of the BBC ‘In Concert’ recording in March 1976 he was fully up to speed. Although some may miss Akkerman’s flamboyance there is no denying that Catherine turned in a competent performance.

Focus’ days were numbered after this tour. They reconvened for one final album, ‘Focus Con Proby’ which featured the unlikely presence of sixties pop star PJ Proby. Van Leer continued to pursue a successful solo career (this success had actually contributed to Akkerman’s departure) whilst Catherine returned to his jazzier world. David Kemper who had played drums on several of the ‘Mother Focus’ tracks filled in on the tour and subsequently returned to session work, whilst Bert Ruiter (who had remained with Focus since the ‘classic’ 1972 line-up) reappeared in his wife’s band Earth and Fire.

Focus is a Dutch rock band. It was founded by classically trained organist/flautist Thijs van Leer in 1969, and is most famous for the songs “Hocus Pocus” and “Sylvia”. The band have found renewed fame due to the use of “Hocus Pocus” as the theme for the Nike 2010 World Cup commercial, Write the Future.

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