Heavy music bands
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Focus are a Dutch progressive rock band formed in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1969 by Thijs van Leer. The band have undergone numerous formations in its history. Since 2011 it has comprised van Leer on vocals, keyboards, and flute, Pierre van der Linden on drums, Bobby Jacobs on bass, and Menno Gootjes on guitar.
Formed of members of the pit band for the Dutch production of the rock musical, Focus gained popularity following the success of (1971) which contained the hit single "Hocus Pocus". Their success continued with (1972) and (1974). Following their break up in 1978, Focus reunited in 1985, 1990, and 1999 before reforming in 2002. They continue to tour and release albums.
In 2010, "Hocus Pocus" was used as the theme for Nike's 2010 World Cup commercial Write The Future which renewed interest in the band.
1969–72: Formation, debut album, and Focus II
At the release of their first album (re-released with a different track sequence as In and Out of Focus) (1970), Focus comprised keyboardist and flutist Thijs van Leer, guitarist Jan Akkerman, bassist Martijn Dresden, and drummer Hans Cleuver. The album was little noticed outside the Netherlands, where a small but avid fan base developed. In the United Kingdom the single "House of the King" initially garnered attention as a Jethro Tull sound-alike. Akkerman left the group to form another band with Pierre van der Linden, a drummer he had previously performed with in Johnny and the Cellar Rockers, The Hunters, and Brainbox. Van Leer made the difficult decision of leaving behind his bandmates Cleuver and Dresden to join Akkerman's new group which, after enlisting bassist Cyril Havermans, retained the name of Focus.
In 1971, the group released (aka Moving Waves), which brought the band international acclaim and a hit on both sides of the Atlantic with the radio edit of "Hocus Pocus". This rock classic consists of Akkerman's guitar chord sequence used as a recurring theme, with quirky and energetic interludes that include alto flute riffs, accordion, guitar, and drum solos - along with van Leer's whistling, nonsensical vocals, falsetto singing, and yodeling.
In September 1971, shortly before the band went on tour to support the album, Havermans quit, desiring to create and perform music which utilized his tenor voice, and was replaced by Bert Ruiter. He released his first solo album, , in 1973, on which he was backed by all three of his former band mates from Focus.
1972–75: Focus 3 and Hamburger Concerto
At the time when, a double album was released in 1972, the group became a virtual 'overnight' international success with both this recording and its predecessor Moving Waves reaching significant chart positions. The success of these recordings was principally due to the exposure of the group's work on radio and TV broadcasts and the significant airplay and consequential success of the Van Leer-penned "Sylvia" which became a major hit in many markets and spent eleven weeks in the UK Singles Chart where it peaked at No. 4. 'Tommy', an edited version of the tune from Moving Waves, charted only in France.
On van Leer and Akkerman were still producing much of their most seminal work. Some of the extended improvisations recorded (i.e., 'Anonymus 2') were intended to reflect their live sound, whereas the shorter songs displayed a remarkable stylistic range with multitracked overdubs of additional instruments to make the overall sound fuller and richer than what a quartet could achieve live. The single House of the King was added to close the album.
In late 1973, Focus released the album, a high quality live recording, that showcases the group's ability to perform in exemplary style as a live ensemble with the notable interplay of Jan Akkerman and Thijs van Leer, particularly on such items as the extended 'Hocus Pocus'.