Best known to radio fans today for later hits “Radar Love” and “Twilight Zone,” the Golden Earrings had their earliest success in the 1960s as a pop band with Frans Krassenburg out front, only dropping the “s” in 1969 before turning to hard rock.
Krassenburg, who was later replaced by Barry Hay, helped the Dutch group to a Top 10 showing in their native country with 1965′s “Please Go.” The follow up, “That Day,” was only kept from the top spot by the Beatles’ “Michelle.”
By the turn of the decade, Golden Earrings co-founders George Kooymans and Rinus Gerritsen had retooled without Krassenburg, eventually hitting with “Radar Love” in 1973 and then “Twilight Zone” in 1983. They’ve had the same lineup, completed by drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk, since 1970.
Krassenburg, meanwhile, began his solo career with an appropriate song, “Golden Earrings,” before becoming an entrepreneur. He joined us to talk about the earliest days of this legendary group from the Netherlands …
STEVE ELLIOTT: Frans, for our readers who may not be familiar with the Golden Earrings’ early beginnings can you tell us how you joined the band in 1964?
FRANS KRASSENBURG: I already had my own band called the Sharks at that time and played a lot in local clubs in the neighborhood of the Hague. I was singing the songs of Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley. At the same time, the Golden Earrings were looking for a singer, because they listened much to Radio Luxemburg to hear the English pop bands sing. And, by the start of the first single of the Beatles they asked me to join the group and so, I started to sing songs by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Zombies, and many others.
STEVE ELLIOTT: Not too long after you joined the band, you all recorded your first single “Please Go” and debut album Just Earrings, both released in 1965. What do you remember about each of them?
FRANS KRASSENBURG: Because we had the right people around us, we were invited to come to the studio to record a lot of our own songs written by George (Kooymans, lead guitar and vocals) and Rinus (Gerritsen, bass and vocals). We played “Please Go” already live for a couple of months, so we started to record “Please Go.” After the release, the single became a hit and ended on the 10th place in the Dutch Top 40. After that, we were invited again to record an LP with songs of George and Rinus. So Just Earrings was born. All great songs influenced by Beatles, Kinks etc.
STEVE ELLIOTT: After your first single, you all began a string of many Top 10 and Top 20 hit singles. What singles stand out for you? I understand the very catchy single “That Day” was recorded in England. It definitely was a big jump as an achievement from the previous songs. I also saw the video for it, and my personal favorite single “Daddy Buy Me A Girl,” on You Tube.
FRANS KRASSENBURG: I think “That Day,” because it was recorded in England in the Pye Studio at the same time as the Stones were recording. After 10 weeks as No. 2 in the charts, we recorded again in the Pye Studio the single, “If You Leave Me” No. 9 in the charts. After that, we recorded again in the Hague and made “Daddy Buy Me A Girl,” which ended up I think on No. 11 in the charts, and we made a very good video clip sitting on elephants at a circus with beautiful girls around us.
STEVE ELLIOTT: It seemed like to me that George Kooymans and Rinus Gerritsen were a powerhouse songwriting team for the band. Is it fair to say you guys’ sound was influenced by The Kinks, Beatles and Monkees?
FRANS KRASSENBURG: Yes, we were very influenced by Beatles, Kinks, Zombies etc. — and they still are my favorites.
STEVE ELLIOTT: What do you think about the second Golden Earrings album, Winter Harvest? I like the melodic song “Call Me” a lot. In late-’66, rhythm guitarist Peter de Ronde left the band. Why did he leave?
FRANS KRASSENBURG: The second album is my favorite, and was made in the Phonogram Studio at Hilversum. A song like “Don’t Wanna Loose that Girl” was born in the studio. They were all great songs by George and Rinus, and we picked out our new single “In My House,” which ended up on No. 12 in the charts. At the same time, Peter de Ronde left the band because his influence was too little comparable to the other members of the band.
STEVE ELLIOTT: After the excellent hit single “Sound of the Screaming Day” in mid-1967 was released, you left the band — with singer Barry Hay coming on board to replace you. What prompted that?
FRANS KRASSENBURG: After that, we recorded again in London the new single “Don’t Run Too Far,” which ended on No. 14 in the charts. Then in the late of 1967, we recorded ‘Sound of the Screaming Day’ again in London and during a meeting in the Hague, we decided to split — because, after making so many hits, it’s very difficult to go on, on the same level. They wanted to change their style of music, making it more heavy music with a spectacular performance. I wasn’t that kind of singer and Barry Hay was the perfect person for it.
STEVE ELLIOTT: About two years later, the fantastic drummer Jaap Eggermont left the band as well. I understand he became a record producer. Why did he leave the band at that point?
FRANS KRASSENBURG: Jaap Eggermont left the group to become a record producer and he still is. He was the producer of “Stars On 45,” a No. 1 in America.
STEVE ELLIOTT: You released your first solo single “Golden Earrings” later on in 1967. What was that song about, and what are your thoughts on your debut solo album also released that same year?
FRANS KRASSENBURG: The song “Golden Earrings” was first sung by Peggy Lee in the early ’50s, I think, and we thought that as we started with this song we could set up a solo project for me. Well, the single ended on No. 20 in the charts, but I was invited to make a solo album with songs chosen by myself and my producer. It wasn’t such a big hit, but we were very satisfied by making it. Now, these days, it is only interesting to collectors.
STEVE ELLIOTT: What did you do after 1967? What music of yours from that point in time onward stands out for you? Do you still like to perform live and record?
FRANS KRASSENBURG: After 1967, I started my own restaurant. These days, I have a new band and I’m still singing and performing. It is a band with two horns, three singers and we make music like soul, funk and, of course, music from the sixties.
STEVE ELLIOTT: Do you think a reunion with the original members for either a one-off concert or new recording is still possible?
FRANS KRASSENBURG: I don’t think it’s possible to do a reunion with my old friends, because they’re still playing other kinds of songs — and I don’t think they’re waiting around to do the early songs. But, we always can wait and wonder.