Jan Akkerman


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photograph of Jan Akkerman

Jan Akkerman (born Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 24 December 1946) is a Dutch guitar virtuoso. In 1973 Akkerman was voted 'Best Guitarist in the World' by the readers of the British music magazine, Melody Maker. Akkerman is best known for his work with Amsterdam-based symphonic rock band Focus, with organ/flute player, Thijs van Leer, as its frontman.

Akkerman was born in the heart of Amsterdam, the son of a scrap iron trader. At age five he took guitar lessons and at the age of fourteen his first single was released. He was a member of instrumental guitar combo Johnny & His Cellar Rockers, beat group The Hunters (for which he wrote the Dutch chart hit, 'Russian Spy And I') and psychedelic rock/blues group, Brainbox, before joining the Thijs van Leer Trio in late 1969. They continued under the name Focus and enjoyed brief international stardom around 1973, with major North-American and British hits, 'Hocus Pocus' and 'Sylvia'.

In 1976 Akkerman left the band due to ongoing conflicts with Van Leer and embarked on a solo career that is still going on today. A reunion with Thijs van Leer in 1985 (see Jan Akkerman & Thijs van Leer) was unsuccessful. Akkerman released a string of albums under his own name. At the same time he was active as a session musician.

In 1992 he was involved in a serious car accident. Jan Akkerman is a distinctive guitarist, constantly experimenting with new equipment and guitars. Akkerman's distinctive guitar sound is characterised by his pioneering use of volume swells which produce a smooth, fluty, sustained note. He turned 70 on 24 December 2016 and still performs internationally. Read more about Jan Akkerman on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

Gear used by Jan Akkerman

Jan Akkerman electric guitars

Jan Akkerman links


1 Comment

Jan Akkerman

I 100% agree that in the early 1970's and perhaps up to 1975, Jan Akkerman was the easily best commercially known electric rock guitarist in the world. He was incredibly advanced and his composition skills were very highly developed.I think it is the case that other guitarists caught up with Jan rather than him slackening off. Although I rate Mahavishnu Orchestra (some absolute Masterpieces) as easily the contemporary Jazz and fusion equivalent of the Focus Classical Rock Fusion, I will always rate Jan far higher that John McLaughlin as a Player. The only contemporary equals I have for Jan at that time were Jeff Beck, who was no where near as fast or fluid as Jan although equally creative and rather more incedinary , and Rory Gallagher who whilst remaining in the Blues idiom, was at the cutting edge of what was emotionally and physically capable given the aesthetic constructs of the time.All three were the best post Hendrix electric Pop players by far IMO. Let us ot forget Jimmy Page on his day could be as good as these three, but juggling the Led Zeppelin behemoth was always a monstrous task and taxed Jimmy severely. Many of the U.S Jazz (Jim Hall, Joe Pass ) and bluegrass players (Kentucky Colonels) were the equal and perhaps even bettered these 3 but the youth of the World was focused on the New, and Rock was the Shock of the New.