From ‘Hair’ to yodelling, the Focus story is quite breathtaking. The band began in1969, formed by members of the band who performed during the Dutch production of the musical ‘Hair’. At this time, the line-up was Thijs van Leer (keyboards/flute), Jan Akkerman (guitar), Martijn Dresden (bass) and Hans Cleuver (dums). But by the time the band gained a significant breakthrough in 1971 with second album ‘Moving Waves’, Cyril Havermans had come in on bass, with Pierre van der Linden on drums. This album featured what was the band’s first hit single, ‘Hocus Pocus’, which included a yodelling section!
Despite line-up changes, over the next few years Focus became one of the most sought after bands in the world. Their combination of progressive nuances with a more commercial delivery proved to be potent, ensuring Focus had a run of triumphs with albums like 1973’s ‘Focus 3’ and ‘Hamburger Concerto’ the next year. They even teamed up with American singer P.J. Proby for the eccentric ’78 album ‘Focus Con Proby’, which also featured Journey drummer Steve Smith!
The same year, Focus broke up. But since 1985 have had a succession of reunions and subsequent splits. But in 2002, van Leer put the band back together, and since then they have had an unbroken run. And they were brought back into a mainstream spotlight when Nike used ‘Hocus Pocus’ for a major TV ad campaign.
Now, the line-up consists of van Leer, van der Linden, guitarist Menno Gootjes and bassist Uni Pannekeet. And as last year’s ‘Focus 8.5/Beyond The Horizon’ proved, they are still an agitating experimental force.
‘Hocus Pocus’, ‘Sylvia’, ‘House of The King’
Their Finest Hour
‘Moving Waves’ 1971
Captured in their pomp onstage. It’s London, 1973