Dutch rockers Golden Earring have broken up. The band, who originally formed as the Golden Earrings in 1961, are calling it quits after guitarist George Kooymans was diagnosed with the degenerative muscle disease ALS.
The news was broken by the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, who revealed that Kooymans had informed his bandmates – frontman Barry Hay, drummer Cesar Zuiderwijk and bassist Rinus Gerritsen – at the end of last year.
In a phone call with the newspaper, Kooymans confirmed the story, saying, "I am indeed ill. I have ALS. It's a very bad prognosis 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. It's a progressive disease. Unfortunately, performing is no longer possible."
"This is a death blow," says Hay. "We always said we would keep going until one of us fell over. I didn't expect George to be the first. Kooymans was always the toughest of the four of us.
"You sometimes philosophise about that: who goes first? And he was always at the back of the line. It sucks, and we would have preferred a farewell tour, but unfortunately it is what it is."
The band's final show was in 2019, at the 16,000-capacity Ahoy venue in Rotterdam. The final date on the band's winter tour, the setlist included their three most well-known international hits: Radar Love, a UK top 10 hit in 1973, and Twilight Zone and When The Lady Smiles, both Billboard chart hits in the early 1980s.
Golden Earring were more successful in the Netherlands, hitting the charts with 60 singles and reaching the number one position four times: with Dong-Dong-Di-Ki-Di-Gi-Dong in 1968, Back Home in 1970, Radar Love in 1973 and When The Lady Smiles in 1984. The band's most recent hit was Still Got The Keys To My First Cadillac, a Dutch Top 20 single in 2012.
Kooymans formed the band with in The Hague in 1961 with Rinus Gerritsen, and the final line-up of Kooymans, Gerritsen, Hays and Zuiderwijk had been in place since 1970, with the classic Moontan album arriving three years later.
Asked if it would be possible to carry on without Kooymans, Zuiderwijk responded, "We are a group of four men who are irreplaceable. A new band member? That wouldn't fit."