Formed in 1967 by former Motions guitarist Robbie Van Leeuwen, the Dutch quartet Shocking Blue originally had a lineup of Van Leeuwen on guitar, lead vocalist Fred DeWilde, bass player Klaasje Van der Wal, and drummer Cornelius Van der Beek, and the initial configuration of the band had a minor homeland hit with “Lucy Brown Is Back in Town” a year later in 1968.
Things really got moving, though, when DeWilde was replaced by sultry singer Mariska Veres, whose sexy presence and solid singing brought the band a second Netherlands hit, “Send Me a Postcard,” and then a huge international smash with “Venus” in 1970 after the group had signed to Jerry Ross' Colossus Records imprint. Although Shocking Blue's albums (1968’s Shocking Blue, 1969’s At Home, 1970’s Scorpio’s Dance, 1971’s 3rd Album, 1972’s Inkpot, 1972’s Attila, 1973’s Dream on Dreamer, and 1974’s Good Times) featured progressive rock elements and inventive arrangements thanks to Van Leeuwen's writing and production skills, the band was essentially marketed as a pop singles unit, and while they scored several subsequent hits in their homeland, none of the group’s releases approached the massive saturation success of “Venus.” Veres left Shocking Blue in 1974 to pursue a solo career, and while there have been various reunions and different touring incarnations of the band over the years (including a version fronted by Veres in the '90s), its creative history ended then. Van Leeuwen later resurfaced in the folk/jazz group Galaxy-Lin, while his most famous composition, “Venus,” continued to see play on oldies stations. Veres died of cancer in 2006 at the age of 59; Van der Wal died in 2018 at age 69. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi