Golden Earring Co-Founder George Kooymans Retires After ALS Diagnosis; Band Calls it Quits

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George Kooymans in 1974 (Photo from Wikipedia)

Following an announcement that he has been diagnosed with ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease), George Kooymans, the guitarist who co-founded the Dutch rock band Golden Earring 60 years ago, will retire. As a result, the band, which was still active, is calling it quits, according to singer Barry Hay and drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk, both longtime members.

“This is a death blow,” said Hay in a press release. “We always said we would keep going until one of us fell over. It sucks; we would have preferred a farewell tour, but unfortunately this is what it is. Our last performance appears to have been in Ahoy in 2019. That was a great show with family and friends, but we would have preferred it differently.”

A more recent photo of Kooymans

At first it was only announced that Kooymans was ill; the specifics were only revealed later by the musician. Best Classic Bands first shared this news on Feb. 5, 2021.

Kooymans, born March 11, 1948, and his neighbor, Rinus Gerritsen, first formed the Tornados in 1961 in The Hague. The band changed its name to the Golden Earrings and subsequently shortened it to Golden Earring. Hay joined as frontman in 1967, while Zuiderwijk came aboard in 1970.

At first, Golden Earring was popular only in the Netherlands and Europe, but international success finally arrived in the mid-’70s. The band’s first U.S. single to chart, “Radar Love,” was released in 1974 and found its way to #13 on the Billboard singles chart. Their biggest hit in the States, 1982’s Kooymans-written “Twilight Zone,” came in 1982. That single also hit #1 on the Billboard Top Album Tracks chart.

Golden Earring also found considerable success with their albums in America: Moontan, in 1974, reached #12, and was followed by several other chart entries, most notably Cut, which peaked at #24 in 1982-83.

Related: 10 great driving songs (including “Radar Love”)

Kooymans also released three solo albums: Jojo (1971), Solo (1987) and On Location, the latter with Frank Carillo in 2010.

Best Classic Bands Staff

17 Comments so far

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  1. Steven
    #1 Steven 5 February, 2021, 19:34

    Take care George, and thanks for the great music.

    Reply this comment
  2. Low Plains Grifter
    #2 Low Plains Grifter 6 February, 2021, 01:39

    First things first,let us pray for George
    Kooymans and his family,and wish the
    best for the remaining band members.
    What a phenomenal group they are.
    They have been around for forever and
    a day,and have been through and in some
    cases withstood all of the changes and
    progressions of Rock music since nearly
    the birth of Rock and Roll.
    To me,all of their music is good,a lot of it
    is fabulous,and some of it is exceptional.
    Their mid period work,of the late 1960’s
    and early 1970’s,are some of the greatest
    Long Players I own, and will stand among
    the best from anyone.They changed with
    the times in their own way without falling
    into certain undesirable trends,and yet
    continually created music that stayed true
    to their art without mimicking whichever
    way the wind blew.No compromises,
    no debt,I guess you could agree.
    We will have to wait and see now,
    what fate has in store for what I know
    to be the Greatest Rock band in history.

    Reply this comment
  3. Bluzrider
    #3 Bluzrider 6 February, 2021, 06:55

    I always wanted to see that band, but they never came to the States. Well, God Bless them, they put out some great music over the years.

    Reply this comment
    • Stephen M.H. Braitman
      Stephen M.H. Braitman 6 February, 2021, 14:24

      Golden Earring came to the U.S. several times. I saw them at the SF Civic Audiitorium on 15 April 1984, and 10 April 1976 at Winterland In SF. They also came in 1969-1970 but missed them. They also played on tour with Santana.

      Reply this comment
      • Christian Berger
        Christian Berger 6 February, 2021, 18:36

        One of my favorite bands. I first saw them in 1969-70 at Fillmore West. Saw them Five or six other times. I was born in the same neighborhood they came from but was kidnapped at age six by my parents and brought here. Definitely belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

        Reply this comment
      • Moontan
        Moontan 7 February, 2021, 16:30

        A trully great band. I saw them once and it was one of the best groups i ever saw live. Trully underrated. I wish him the best. Great guitarist never got the recognition he or they deserved.

        Reply this comment
    • Concert Joe
      Concert Joe 7 February, 2021, 10:06

      Yes they did come. I saw them twice in Chicago.

      Reply this comment
    • CrotchetyComics
      CrotchetyComics 11 February, 2021, 16:06

      They’ve been to the States a lot in the past. saw them live in San Francisco in 1976.

      Reply this comment
    • Onteo
      Onteo 12 March, 2021, 06:37

      Oh, but they did come to the US. I saw them in November 1974, opening for Black Oak Arkansas and headliner Robin Trower. They performed most of Moontan. Check out for other dates.

      Reply this comment
  4. Michael
    #4 Michael 6 February, 2021, 18:22

    Fully agree with the Grifter, above. That mid-period was a blast of solid hard rock (with mildly prog overtones, especially once Stips’s keys were brought in) that stands on par with any other hard rock band’s output during that stretch. Seven Tears, Golden Earring (the “wall of dolls” LP), and Together immediately preceded Moontan, and are well worth pursuing. Their cover of Eight Miles High, prior to this stretch, is also worthwhile. (They even did a European Coca-Cola ad.) George and Rinus, thank you for the gift of sixty years’ worth of your collaboration. Peace!

    Reply this comment
  5. Concert fan
    #5 Concert fan 8 February, 2021, 17:16

    Loved Golden Earring, saw them in about 1974 in Santa Monica. Cant remember which venue but was lucky enough to be front row and catch an earring with a small record attached that has Golden Earring stamped on it. What a memento/ piece of history to have. Praying for George and his family. Best wishes.

    Reply this comment
    #6 DRAIDEZ1 9 February, 2021, 00:15

    Praying for you brother! God Bless you George. Radar love one of my favorite songs in my youth and still like flying down the highway with it playing in my Hellcat!

    Reply this comment
  7. zally
    #7 zally 13 February, 2021, 09:12

    george was the heart and soul of the earring. i met him 3x and he was as gracious as ever. he will be solely missed.

    Reply this comment
  8. Thato
    #8 Thato 19 March, 2021, 09:53

    ALS Formula treatment from Tree of Life Health clinic. It has made a tremendous difference for me (Visit ww w.treeoflifeherbalclinic. com ). I had improved walking balance, increased appetite, muscle strength, improved eyesight and others. ]

    Reply this comment
  9. Brendan
    #9 Brendan 26 September, 2021, 00:06

    I’ve loved Radar Love and the Moontan (US version) abum for many years. I’ve only recently started hunting down their other albums and like someone else said, they progressed in their music but didn’t follow undesirable trends. As such their later albums compare well with their early classic albums. The songs are shorter but they continued to rock. George Kooymans and his band have left behind a tremendous musicl legacy which I hope many more people, outside of the Netherlands, will come to appreciate.

    Reply this comment
  10. Jess F
    #10 Jess F 30 July, 2023, 03:07

    I love your music, George, especially TZ. God Bless You and praying for you. One of my best friends was recently diagnosed with ALS. Spending more time with him and his family. I hope one of these newer therapies can reverse it someday soon.

    Reply this comment
  11. Eddie
    #11 Eddie 17 October, 2023, 13:59

    Am so heartbroken on this; was a rural boy in Maine when heard “ radar love”;got the album & was blown away bought the next 5, always regretted never seeing them live; & George is one of the best ever

    Reply this comment

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