Harry Vanda

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Harry Vanda
Vanda performing in 1968
Vanda performing in 1968
Background information
Birth nameJohannes Hendrikus Jacob van den Berg
Born (1946-03-22) 22 March 1946 (age 76)
Voorburg, Netherlands
OriginSydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1964–present
LabelsAlbert Productions

Johannes Hendrikus Jacob van den Berg (born 22 March 1946), better known as his stage name Harry Vanda, is a Dutch Australian musician, songwriter and record producer. He is best known as lead guitarist of the 1960s Australian rock band the Easybeats who with fellow member George Young formed the 1970s and 1980s songwriting and record production duo Vanda & Young.

Early life[edit]

Vanda's family migrated to Australia from the Netherlands in 1963,[1] and settled in Sydney. Vanda, who had been a guitarist with the Hague-based band the Starfighters,[2] came to fame in 1964–65 as the lead guitarist of the Easybeats. In the same year he met rhythm guitarist George Young at the Villawood migrant hostel. In 2007, Australian Musician magazine selected this meeting as the most significant event in Australian pop and rock music history.[3]


In 1966, both Vanda and Young penned many of the Easybeats' later recordings, including their major international hit, "Friday On My Mind".

After the Easybeats disbanded in 1970, Vanda & Young remained in the UK and continued their writing and performing partnership.

In 1973, Vanda and Young returned to Australia and took over as the house producers for leading independent record production company, Albert Productions, and publisher J. Albert & Son. From 1974 onwards they enjoyed huge success in Australia and internationally, writing and producing hits for a number of popular Australian groups and solo singers, including John Paul Young, Cheetah, Stevie Wright, Ted Mulry, Rose Tattoo, the Angels, William Shakespeare, Mark Williams and, most notably, AC/DC. AC/DC included George Young's brothers, guitarists Angus and Malcolm Young. Vanda & Young produced landmark albums such as Let There Be Rock, Powerage, If You Want Blood You've Got It, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, High Voltage/TNT, amongst others.

Vanda and Young also had major international success with their own studio-only project Flash and the Pan, achieving many hits round the world over a 15-year period, particularly in Europe where they had many chart topping records. Grace Jones had a hit with a cover of the Flash and the Pan song "Walking in the Rain".

In 1988 Vanda was inducted, along with George Young, into the inaugural class of the ARIA Hall of Fame.

By the late 1990s, Vanda and Young had left their longtime partnership with Albert Productions, and retired from the music industry. However, in 2005, Harry Vanda started Flashpoint Music in Surry Hills with his producer/engineer son, Daniel Vandenberg, setting up one of Australia's premier private studios. The studio has produced bands such as the Wrights and British India.


Vanda used a 1964 Höfner Verithin 1574 with Bigsby tremolo and 511 pickups, before switching in 1965 to a Gibson 345. In the Easybeats, Vanda also often played a cherry-red Maton 12-string electric guitar, which he donated to the collection of Powerhouse Museum in Sydney in 1999.[4] In addition, Vanda owned the red Gretsch Jet Firebird double cutaway guitar that was given to George Young's younger brother Malcolm. This guitar, nicknamed "The Beast", saw numerous modifications and was Malcolm Young's primary guitar throughout his career with AC/DC.


In 1988 he was inducted, along with George Young, into the inaugural class of the ARIA Hall of Fame.[5]

Since 2009, Albert Music and APRA AMCOS have held the Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition, named after the musicians.

Selected list of songs written by Vanda and Young[edit]


  1. ^ "VAN DEN BERG Henricus Cornelis born 14 September 1923; Lisa nee Warzozskaja akj nee Berg-Warsozk born 19 September 1924; Johannes Hendrikus Jacob born 22 March 1946 - Dutch - travelled per ship NAMA, ORANJE departing in 1963 under the Australian and Netherlands Governments Migration Agreement".
  2. ^ Dutch interview 2012 on YouTube
  3. ^ Shedden, Iain (27 September 2008). "Sounds of the:The legacy of Australia's first internationally successful rock band endures". The Australian.
  4. ^ "Objects through Time - Maton 12 string electric guitar". Archived from the original on 4 September 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2007.
  5. ^ "ARIA Icons: Hall Of Fame". Aria.com.au. Retrieved 26 July 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • John Tait. Vanda & Young. Inside Australia's Hit Factory.Published by University NSW Press Ltd. Australia, 2010. (ISBN 978 1 74223 217 1).

External links[edit]