Thijs van Leer
|Thijs van Leer|
Thijs van Leer at Zoetermeer Jazz in 2010
|Born||31 March 1948|
|Genres||Progressive rock, neo-classical, jazz|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, composer, yodeler, electronic organist, flautist|
|Instruments||Hammond organ, flute, keyboards, piano, harpsichord, vocals, recorder, piccolo|
Thijs van Leer (pronounced: /tɛis vɑn lɪ:r/; born 31 March 1948) is a Dutch musician, singer and composer, best known for heading the Dutch progressive rock band, Focus, as primary vocalist, Hammond organ player, and flautist. He also yodels and whistles. In his later years, van Leer went on to release many solo albums which were also classical music and jazz-based.
Van Leer was born in Amsterdam, and received his first flute at the age of eleven from his father, a classical flautist. He studied History of Art at Amsterdam University; after which he began studying flute and composition at the Amsterdam Conservatorium. He received a degree for flute from Geneva Conservatoire and also studied piano, orchestration (with Rogier van Otterloo) and organ (with Anthon van der Horst). While still at school, Van Leer led a jazz group on piano. He went on to play the flute and sing with the Shaffy cabaret group.
In 1969 he joined Martijn Dresden (bass) and Hans Cleuver (drums) to form a trio that covered songs by Traffic and backed other Dutch musicians, as well as playing their own material. Later in the year guitarist Jan Akkerman joined, completing the initial line-up of Focus. They released several albums in the 1970s, earning two gold records (for "Moving Waves" and "Focus III") which spawned the international hit singles "Hocus Pocus" and "Sylvia". Van Leer headed Focus through several line-up changes, and by early 1976 he was the only remaining original member; the group disbanded in 1978. To date over five million copies of Focus albums have sold worldwide.
Thijs van Leer's 1973 "Introspection" solo album of classical flute supported by orchestra was also awarded gold record status, and the series of five Introspection albums has sold over a half million copies.
He also worked and toured with Spanish singer Miguel Ríos, playing keyboards and flute, and appearing on three of Ríos' albums: Extraños en el escaparate (Strangers in the Shopwindow, 1981), Rock & Ríos (1982; double album), and El rock de una noche de verano (Midsummer Night's Rock, 1983). In 1985, Van Leer briefly reunited with Akkerman to make Focus 1985. In 2002, Van Leer created a new Focus line-up, which has since released the albums Focus 8, Focus 9 / New Skin, Focus X, and Golden Oldies. A British tour was undertaken in spring 2006, and more regularly in subsequent years.
In 2008 Explore Multimedia released Van Leer's first solo album in nearly a decade, The Home Concert. The album featured recordings made in his living room as he played material for Focus 9. The album is exclusively available via the Internet, and at concerts.
Van Leer has also experimented with sacred vocal music.
On 13 September 2008 he was made a Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau for "special services to music."
- Focus Plays Focus (aka In and Out of Focus) (January 1971)
- Focus II (aka Moving Waves) (October 1971)
- Focus 3 (November 1972)
- At the Rainbow (October 1973)
- Hamburger Concerto (May 1974)
- Mother Focus (October 1975)
- Ship of Memories (September 1977)
- Focus con Proby (January 1978)
- Focus (August 1985)
- Focus 8 (January 2002)
- Focus Masters From The Vaults Classic Rock Productions CRP1112 (2004)
- Live at the BBC 1976 (May 2004)
- Focus 9 / New Skin (September 2006)
- Focus X / Crossroads (October 2012)
- Golden Oldies (April 2014)
- 1973 Introspection
- 1975 O My Love
- 1976 Introspection 2
- 1976 Musica per la Notte di Natale
- 1977 Nice to Have Met You
- 1978 Introspection 3
- 1978 Nice to Have Met You
- 1980 Introspection 4
- 1981 Pedal Point: Dona Nobis Pacem'
- 1981 Reflections
- 1986 Renaissance
- 1987 I Hate Myself
- 1992 Introspection 92 (Posthumous tribute to Rogier van Otterloo)
- 1994 Musical Melody
- 1996 Bolero (CD version of the Reflections album with two extra tracks)
- 1996 Summertime
- 1997 Instrumental Hymns
- 1999 The Glorious Album
- 1999 Bach for a New Age
- 2000 12 Mooiste Liederen (re-release of The Glorious Album under the name of Jan Mulder, piano)
- 2006 Etudes Sans Gêne (limited edition DVD)
- 2008 The Home Concert
- 2015 Trading Boundaries Live Vol.1
Thomas Blug Band
- 2005 Guitar From The Heart/Live (DVD)
- 2005 Guitar From The Heart – Live in Raalte, NL
- 2009 Soul & Pepper
Media related to Thijs van Leer at Wikimedia Commons