Jan Akkerman in Russia, 2005
|Born||24 December 1946|
|Genres||Progressive rock, rock, blues, jazz fusion|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, Composer, Producer|
|Instruments||Guitar, lute, Bass, Keyboards, Drums|
|Associated acts||Friendship Sextet, Johnny and his Cellar Rockers, ZZ & the Maskers, The Hunters (Dutch band), Brainbox, Focus|
Jan Akkerman (born 24 December 1946) is a Dutch guitarist. He first found international commercial success with the band Focus, which he co-founded with Thijs van Leer. After leaving Focus, he continued as a solo musician, adding jazz fusion influences.
The son of a scrap iron trader, Akkerman was born in Amsterdam. He started playing the accordion before turning to the guitar. Around age ten he took guitar lessons and his first single, with the Friendship Sextet, was released in 1960, when he was thirteen years old. Akkerman won a scholarship to study at the Amsterdam Music Lyceum for five years, developing his composition and arranging skills.
At fourteen he was in the rock band Johnny and his Cellar Rockers with his friend Pierre van der Linden. Both then joined The Hunters. After seeing a performance by classical guitarist Julian Bream, he became interested in renaissance music and the lute. He started the band Brainbox with Van der Linden, Kaz Lux, and André Reijnen. They recorded for Parlophone.
Akkerman joined the Thijs van Leer Trio in late 1969 which, as the nascent band Focus, was the pit band for the Dutch theatrical production of Hair (recorded as an album in 1969). Under the name Focus, the band explored progressive rock, an amalgam of classical, jazz, and rock music, and had hits in the seventies such as "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia". The band's albums Focus II and Focus 3 were certified Gold. In 1973 Akkerman was voted Best Guitarist in the World by readers of the UK magazine Melody Maker. With manufacturer Framus he helped produce one of the first signature guitar models.
Atlantic released his solo album Tabernakel, which contains his playing the lute. His concept album Eli, recorded with Kaz Lux on vocals, won the Dutch Edison Award for best album in 1976. On the album, Akkerman experimented with a 12-string guitar tuned in parallel fifths. In the early 1980's he began to experiment with a guitar synthesizer, as on the album Oil in the Family. In 1985, he reunited Focus with Van Leer for an album and accompanying concert. The band reunited again in 1990 for the Dutch television program Goud van Oud (Old Gold). During the 1990's and in the 2000's he continued playing with his own band, and also as a solo musician, accompanied by pre-recorded computer-generated background (Roland synthesizers and Linn drums).
In 1992, he was involved in a serious car accident, but he resumed playing in 1993. In the late 1990s, after an absence of nearly 20 years, he was persuaded to tour the UK again. He wrote for the Dutch magazine GitaarPlus. In 2013, Akkerman released the album North Sea Jazz.
- Talent for Sale (Imperial, 1968)
- Profile (Sire, 1972)
- Tabernakel (Atlantic, 1973)
- Eli (Atlantic, 1976)
- Jan Akkerman (Atlantic, 1977)
- Live (Atlantic, 1978)
- Aranjuez (CBS, 1978)
- Jan Akkerman 3 (Atlantic, 1979)
- Transparental (Ariola, 1980)
- Oil in the Family (CNR, 1981)
- Pleasure Point (WEA, 1982)
- It Could Happen to You (Polydor, 1982)
- Can't Stand Noise (CBS, 1983)
- From the Basement (CBS, 1984)
- Focus (Vertigo, 1985)
- The Complete Guitarist (Charly, 1986)
- Heartware (Skydancer, 1987)
- The Noise of Art (I.R.S., 1990)
- Puccini's Café (EMI, 1993)
- Blues Hearts (EMI, 1994)
- Focus in Time (Patio Music, 1996)
- Blues Root (Universe, 1998)
- Passion (Roadrunner, 1999)
- Live at Alexanders (Akkernet, 1999)
- C. U. (Coast to Coast, 2003)
- Close Beauty (Music Theories, 2019)
Awards and honours
- Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands, 28 December 2012)
- Eddy Christiani Award (Netherlands, 11 April 2009)
- Golden Harp award (Netherlands, January 2005)
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 26/7. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- Eder, Bruce. "Jan Akkerman". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- "10950 Jan Akkerman". Framus Vintage Archive. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- "10980 Jan Akkerman". Framus Vintage Archive. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- "Jan Akkerman". Framus Vintage Archive. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- "'Framus - known all over the world'". Framus Vintage Archive. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- "Tidido". tidido.com. Archived from the original on 2016-04-23. Retrieved 2016-04-07.
- David Randall, In & out of focus : the music of Jan Akkerman and Focus, London : SAF Publishing, 2003, ISBN 0-946719-44-6
- Brigitte Tast, Hans-Juergen Tast: „be bop” - Die Wilhelmshöhe rockt. Disco und Konzerte in der Hölle. Verlag Gebrüder Gerstenberg GmbH & Co. kg, Hildesheim 2007, ISBN 978-3-8067-8589-0.
- Brigitte Tast, Hans-Juergen Tast: „be bop” - Rock-Tempel & Nachtasyl - Band 2 zur Legende. Hildesheim: Verlag Gebr. Gerstenberg 2009. ISBN 978-3-8067-8733-7.
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