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Jan Akkerman

Guitarist Brian May called him a "role model" stating:


"totally a hero of mine, there are some people in life that no matter how old you are, you feel nervous if you meet someone, he's one of those, he's a real role model".


Blues artist B.B. King said about him: "...How can you forget a guy like Jan".


In 1973, he was awarded the title "Best guitarist of the world" by the magazine "Melody Maker" and surpassed great guitarists such as Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton.


His music influenced bands like "Iron Maiden", "Marillion", "Helloween" and more...

(Photo: Fin Costello/Redferns)


Today we will tell you about Jan Akkerman, known among others for his membership in the Progressive Rock band "Focus".


1. He was born in Amsterdam, Holland on December 24, 1946, into a musical family - his father played the clarinet and trumpet.


2. The first instrument he started playing when he was 3 years old, was the accordion.


3. When he was 10 years old he started playing the guitar. He studied at the Amsterdam Conservatory until he was in his teens, when the family moved to Vienna, Austria.


4. He joined his first band, "Johnny & the Cellar Rockers", in 1958, aged just 11. The band also included his childhood friend Pierre van der Linden on drums.


5. Later the two will form the instrumental group "Hunters" which was greatly influenced by "The Shadows".


6. During the late 1960s, Akkerman, Van der Linden, bassist Bert Ruiter, and singer Kaz Lux formed "Brainbox", they received a recording contract with "Parlophone Records".


7. In 1969 he founded the band "Focus" together with keyboardist, singer, and flutist Thijs van Leer.


8. In 1970 they released their debut album "Focus Plays Focus", which was not a success.


9. After the release of the album, his drummer friend Pierre van der Linden joined the band and they released the excellent album "Focus II / Moving Waves", which included the "hits" "Sylvia" and "Hocus Pocus".


10. The track "Hocus Pocus" will appear in several TV shows such as "Top Gear", "Saxondale", "Skins", "Supernatural", "Vinyl", "My Name is Earl" and "Shameless" as well as the 2007 film "Hot Fuzz", "Robocop" from 2014, "Baby Driver" from 2017 as well as many TV commercials including for "Nike".


11. In addition, the track will receive quite a few cover versions over the years. Among them:are Iron Maiden", "Marillion", "Helloween", Gary Hoey, "The Vandals" and Vanessa-Mae.



12. The album "Focus II / Moving Waves" was an international success and Akkerman became, overnight, a superstar guitarist, who in 1973 won, among other things, the title "Best guitarist of the world" by the magazine "Melody Maker", ahead of great guitarists such as Jeff Beck, Jimmy Pag,e and Eric Clapton.


13. His name as a great guitarist earned him a collaboration with "Framus" guitar company, to produce one of the first "signature guitar" models.


14. Until 1976, Jan will release 4 more studio albums with "Focus", including "Focus 3", "Hamburger Concerto" and "Ship of Memories", which consists of songs that the band recorded between 1970-1975 and were never released.


15. Akkerman would leave "Focus" in 1976, but would return in 1985, when the band released the album "Focus" under the name "Jan Akkerman & Thijs Van Leer". The band will reunite again in 1990 in the Dutch TV show "Goud van Oud".


16. At the same time as his membership in "Focus", Akkerman developed an extensive solo career that began back in 1968, during which he published over 30 albums. The albums combined many styles of music beyond the Progressive Rock that characterized him in the days of "Focus" and among others classical, jazz, fusion, funk, and blues.


17. Among the special albums in his solo career is "Tabernakel" from 1974, which was released after Akkerman purchased a medieval lute, taught himself to play it, and played it in half of the tracks of the album, consisting of medieval music. It was an unusual record that featured guest artists such as Tim Bogert (bass) and Carmine Appice (drums).



18. In 1976 Akkerman released the concept album "Eli" together with Kaz Lux on vocals. The album won יןצ the "Edison Award" as the best album of 1976. In this album, Akkerman experimented, among other things, with playing a 12-string guitar in a non-standard parallel fifths guitar tuning.


19. In the early 1980s, Akkerman began to experiment with a "guitar synthesizer" as in the album "Oil in the Family" from 1981 and was among the first to do so.


20. In 1992, Jan Akkerman was involved in a serious car accident, but returned to playing already in 1993.


21. Akkerman is a multi-instrumentalist who plays, among other things, guitar, bass guitar, lute, piano, accordion, and drums.

("Focus" - Photo: Michael Putland / Getty Images)


22. He is a unique guitarist, who is constantly experimenting with new guitars and equipment. His unique guitar sound is characterized by his pioneering use of volume swells that produce a smooth, "fluty" and sustained sound, although he is also a very fast and technical guitarist.


23. Throughout his career, Akkerman was a sought-after session player who, among others, played on albums by artists such as Peter Banks, Jack Bruce, Phil Collins, Paco de Lucía, Ice-T, and B.B. King


24. In addition, Akkerman collaborated with other artists such as former "Yes" guitarist Peter Banks, with whom he released the album "Two Sides Of Peter Banks" in 1973, which featured also Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, and John Wetton.


25. In 2005, Akkerman received the "Golden Harp" Dutch award.


26. Akkerman also wrote a column for the guitar magazine "GitaarPlus".


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