Friday, February 4, 2011

Jan Akkerman

Born: December 24, 1946 - Amsterdam, Holland

The Dutch Rock guitarist, Jan Akkerman, was born in the 'Jordaan' area of Amsterdam as the son of a scrap iron trader. At age 5 he took guitar lessons and his first single was released when he was 14 years old.

Jan Akkerman was a member of Johnny and The Cellar Rockers, The Hunters and Brainbox, and joined the Thijs van Leer Trio in late 1969. They continued under the name Focus and scored a few worldwide hits in the 1970's. In 1973 Akkerman was chosen Best Guitarist In The World by the readers of the UK magazine Melody Maker. His standing was such that he teamed up with manufacturer Framus to produce one of the first 'signature' guitar models.

In 1976 Jan Akkerman left Focus and continued his solo career, and collaborations with other musicians. His best solo work probably dates from the few years following his departure from Focus, with 1977's 'Jan Akkerman' album being amongst the best. A reunion with Thijs van Leer in 1985 turned out to be unsuccessful. He continued to produce several albums. At the same time he was active as a session musician with André Hazes and others. Furthermore he played with Vlatko Stefanovski, Alan Price, Herman Brood, Peter Banks, Charlie Byrd, Ice-T, Paco De Lucia, and BB King.

In 1992 Jan Akkerman was involved in a serious car accident, but resumed playing in 1993. In the late 1990's, after an absence of nearly 20 years, he was persuaded to tour the UK again and has continued to do so on a regular basis. He writes for the Dutch magazine GitaarPlus.

Jan Akkerman is a distinctive guitarist, constantly experimenting with new equipment and guitars. His distinctive guitar sound is characterised by his pioneering use of volume swells which produce a smooth, fluty, sustained note, although he is also capable of astonishing high-speed pyrotechnics. He also pioneered the use of the lute in a rock band, reflecting his interest in medieval and Renaissance music and culture.

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