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. At age five he took guitar lessons and his first single 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 eleven 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 medieval music and the lute. He started the band Brainbox with van der Linden, Kaz Lux, and Bert Ruiter. They recorded for Parlophone.
Johnny And His Cellar Rockers featuring Jan Akkerman:
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 Tabernackel, 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 late 1970s he began to use a guitar synthesizer, as on the album Oil in the Family. In 1985, he reunited Focus with van Leer for concerts and an album. The band reunited again in 1990 for the Dutch television program Goud van Oud (Old Gold).
Akkerman was a session musician with André Hazes and worked with Alan Price, Herman Brood, Peter Banks, Jack Bruce, Charlie Byrd, Phil Collins, Paco de Lucía, Ice-T, and B.B. King.
In 1992, he was involved in a 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. (wikipedia)
UK frontcover, 1986:
Through this album Jan Akkerman demonstrates his consistency in terms of musical approach where he chose jazz-rock as a platform and let the improvisation, not necessarily using guitar as main soloist, works on top of that platform. He proves it through the composition he crafted at the opening track “Pietons” where the basic platforms is so obvious in jazz-rock landscape. Well, not all of his albums in the same vein though.
As far as composition, I enjoy the fourth track “Journey (A Real Elegant Gypsy)” which initially presumed would be similar, musically, with Al Di Meola’s. One really can sense his guitar style having listened to some of his albums. Other tracks “Back To The Factory” and “Just Because” demonstrate his virtuosities not only in playing his guitar strings but also in composing music under jazz-roxck vein … Peace on earth and mercy mild (by Gatot)
Jan Akkerman (guitar, bass, lute, percussion)
Tom Dijkman (drums on 07. – 10.)
Marc van de Geer (keyboards on 02. – 06.)
Lesly Joseph (bass on 07. – 10.)
Willem Swikker (keyboards on 07. – 10.)
Dino Walcott (bass on 05. + 06.)
Hans Waterman (drums on 05. + 06.)
CD front + backover:
01. Piétons (Akkerman) 8.00
02. Everything Must Change (Ighner) 6.29
03. Back To The Factory (Akkerman) 7.51
04. Journey (A Real Elegant Gipsy) (Flynn) 4.29
05. Heavy Treasure (Akkerman) 8.58
06. Just Because (Akkerman) 5.40
bonus tracks (Recorded live 1993, at the Schauspielhaus Lelystad)
07. Crackers (Akkerman) 9.38
08. Burgers Blues (Intro) (Akkerman) 3.18
09. Prima Donna (Akkerman) 5.19
10. Sketches Of Pleasure (Akkerman) 11.10