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Earth and Fire were a pop group formed in the Netherlands by brothers Chris and Gerard Koerts. Most popular in the 1970s when fronted by singer Jerney Kaagman, Earth and Fire had many chart topping hits in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, though they never gained much popularity in England or the Americas. Their biggest international hit was "Weekend", number one in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Portugal.
Earth and Fire originated with the brothers Chris and Gerard Koerts from Voorschoten. As "The Singing Twins" they made music for family and friends since 1960, achieving a breakthrough of sorts at a talent show in 1962, at which future bass player Hans Ziech was present--Ziech, at the time, was already interested in rock and roll and thought The Singing Twins a bit on the mild side, Jan & Kjeld-like. In 1963, influenced by beat music, they joined a local beat band, playing mostly instrumental music until early 1965; the Koerts brothers were remembered as musical perfectionists even at an early age. They changed their name to The Swinging Strings in 1965 and began singing, covering hits by the Beatles, the Byrds, and others. They played regularly and saved enough money to buy equipment and add three dancers, girls in Audrey Hepburn-like outfits. While they played all over the provinces of North and South Holland, they rarely performed in their own area--The Hague had its own scene of beat bands. By the end of 1966, however, they had won a few talent shows near their home town, had a fan club with over 250 members, and had drawn the attention of radio DJ Joost den Draaijer.
Opus Gainfull, transition to Earth and Fire
By 1967 the Koerts brothers were dissatisfied with playing cover music and were looking to increase the technical level of their music. Somewhat abruptly, according to the other members, they broke up the Strings and renamed the band Opus Gainfull, and were looking for a rhythm section. They found a bass player in Hans Ziech (born 1943) of the local band The Soul, and also picked up that band's drummer, Cees Kalis. The Soul's guitar player, Eric Wenink, also joined, for a couple of years. Throughout 1968 and 1969 the band practiced new music, while listening to the music of Jimi Hendrix, Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane. The decision was made to look for a singer, and Manuela Berloth joined them. Meanwhile their music continued to evolve, with ideas for concept albums brought in from the US West Coast and improvisational practice sessions. In 1968, before a show in Beverwijk, the band's name was changed to Earth and Fire. The band recorded two songs as the prize for winning a talent show in 1969, but were not offered a record contract; by the end of the year, Berloth, who in Gerard Koerts' words "was not a rock 'n roll woman", left. The Koerts brothers, who were graduating school at the time, took over on vocals, and the band continued touring, opening for established beat band Golden Earring. In September 1969 they met and hired Jerney Kaagman.
The band's first album, Earth and Fire (1970), produced three hits: "Seasons" reached no. 2 in the Dutch charts, with an estimated 60,000 copies sold; the second single, "Ruby is the one" (later covered by the Claw Boys Claw for Hitkillers) reached no. 4 and sold 40,000 copies.
In 1977, after four successful singles and nine nits, the band found the Dutch musical atmosphere changed considerably: new bands, influenced by disco, punk, and new wave, threatened to render many of the previously popular Dutch groups obsolete. 1977's Gate to Infinity received a cool reception and the album's lead single, "78 Avenue", failed to break into the Dutch top 10. Drummer Ton van der Kleij left in August 1978, followed a few months later by bass player Theo Hurts. Despite rumors that Kaagman would go solo or take a job at TopPop, a popular music television show, she stayed with the Koerts brothers, who quickly found another drummer, Ab Tamboer, and another bass player, Bert Ruiter (Kaagman's male companion and formerly with Focus). By 1980 Chris Koerts left, feeling that he had achieved everything he wanted with the band.Wide ThumbClearartFanartBanner User Comments