Legendary rock band Golden Earring stops after 60 years on ALS diagnosis
Golden Earring has been a household name in the current line-up for fifty years. But the oldest Dutch rock band is calling it quits because the guitarist and co-founder George Kooymans (72) has been diagnosed with the nervous system disease ALS and can therefore no longer perform. For the rest of the band, that means the end of an era: Without Kooymans, they do not want to continue.
At the end of 2020, George Kooymans informed the other band members about the diagnosis. Singer Barry Hay (72), drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk (72), and bassist Rinus Gerritsen (74) kept the news to themselves, but eventually, the news leaked on Friday. Kooymans confirmed the news to newspaper AD: “I am indeed ill, I have ALS. It’s very bad news and I’m not really in the mood to say much about it. I am being treated at the university hospital in Leuven. That’s it,” he said.
The guitarist and other band members realized that concerts would no longer be possible. “It’s a progressive disease. Unfortunately, performing is no longer possible,” said singer Barry Hay. “This is a death blow. We always said we would keep going until one of us fell over,” says Hay. “I didn’t expect George to be the first. Kooymans was always the toughest of the four of us,” he added.
George Kooymans and his neighbor Rinus Gerritsen founded the band The Tornados in 1961 in The Hague. They soon discover that a group with the same name already exists, so they continue as The Golden Earrings and later Golden Earring.
Singer Barry Hay and Cesar Zuiderwijk have been with the band since 1970, and the line-up has remained unchanged ever since.
In that formation, the band experienced its greatest successes, nationally and internationally. Their greatest hit, Radar Love (1973), reached first place on the Dutch charts. The song also did well in the United States and the United Kingdom. Golden Earrings released dozens of albums and scored chart-topping hits in the Netherlands with almost every single.
In 2019, the band celebrated its 50th anniversary, for which they held a big show in Rotterdam, which now turns out to be their last concert. “It sucks, we would have preferred a farewell tour, but unfortunately, this is what it is,” says Hay. “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 to see it differently.”