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erik neuteboom View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Rick Van Der Linden 1998
    Posted: January 23 2006 at 06:13

                  INTERVIEW WITH RICK VAN DER LINDEN

 

                                                      (by Erik Neuteboom)

 

In the late Nineties I was preparing an article about ‘vintage’ keyboards (the Mellotron, Moog, Hammond, Solina string-ensemble, Fender Rhodes piano, Yamaha CS-80) for the Dutch progrock magazine iO Pages. One of my main goals was to interview the acclaimed Dutch keyboard wizard Rick Van Der Linden, once a prominent member of the classic-rock formation EKSEPTION and the keyboard driven trio TRACE. His fame goes from the USA to Argentina and from Israel to Japan. I phoned Rick his former TRACE member Jaap Van Eik on the office from his known Dutch magazine Music Maker. I explained my plans and he simply gave me the phone number from Rick Van Der Linden. Within one day I managed to make an appointment with one of my keyboard heroes, it was that easy!

I have translated this interview (from 1998) for Prog Archives as a tribute to Rick Van Der Linden who passed away on Sunday morning January 22nd at the age of 59.

 

Did you grow up in a musical environment?

 

“You cannot say that I was really rooted in a musical environment although my father played piano. When I was at about twelve years old I took piano lessons, at sixteen followed by church organ lessons and I finally went to the conservatory in Haarlem when I was eighteen. I have to admit that it was hard and not really what I expected, very tough material like learning years and history. In that time I started to play in bands, first jazz music but later also movies, cabaret, nightclubs, tango’s and even for one dollar I was ‘ballet accomponist’!”. In the Haarlem Jazz Club I used to watch the Louis Van Dijk Trio playing. I bought all the records from this famous Dutch jazz piano player and began copying his music, note by note. That jazz will always be my musical background although it took some time before I really liked jazz, first it didn’t please me at all but my brother was always playing records from Miles Davis.”

 

When did the Ekseption period began?

 

“In the late Sixties I was impressed by Hammond players like Brain Auger from TRINITY and of course Keith Emerson from THE NICE, they became my heroes. When I witnessed a gig from THE NICE in The Netherlands, I was blown away by his performance, so powerful and adventurous: turning and throwing with his Hammond, stabbing knives in it, really mindlblowing but I knew I could play also well! At that moment I started to dream making that kind of music and I gave up my goal to become a famous Dutch concert player. By the way, later I met Keith Emerson, it turned out that he owned solo albums from me and one day I was on the same stage as Brian Auger on a festival in Italy!

Around the time that I was so impressed by Keith Emerson his musical vision, my friend Rein Van De Broek gave me a call and asked me to join his progressive rock formation EKSEPTION. I agreed and so my ‘EKSEPTION adventure’ began.”

 

Can you tell me something about your wide range of keyboards?

 

“In 1969 I bought my first Hammond organ, a M3 model including vibrato and percussion. It’s almost impossible to describe how it is to play on a Hammond organ, you have to feel it! It is the ‘king of the keyboards’, it lives, you feel it under your fingers. Once that M3 model felt 10 meters from the stairs but this didn’t stop the Hammond from working, incredible, these instruments are build so perfectly! Later I bought several Hammond organs, including the most famous model, the B3, also known as ‘The Beast’. Its quality is a bit better than the M100 but it remains amazing how powerful the M100 sounds. Because ‘samples’ were very bad in those times (they smell to ‘electronics’), I often used my spinet and harpsichord but they tend to get very soon out of tune, sometimes only a little bit of draught caused this. My favorite acoustic piano is the Steinway, handmade and it has a very distinctive sound. The Yamaha is a good substitute but the wood has to ‘work out’ for at least 20 years before you can use it for a piano. In reality this means that a Steinway is perfect 9 out of 10 and a Yamaha 6 out of 10. The Bösendörfer is a bit stubborn, you have to control it very well, otherwise it goes its own way. I love to play on a harpsichord, unfortunately it has no sustain. But you took it with you on a tour because in the late Sixties and early Seventies you had a very limited range of keyboards on stage. The Mellotron is an amazing and very beautiful instrument bu so vulnerable. I always had many reserve parts with me including frames that I carried in huge handbags. Playing on a Mellotron all your piano skills are useless, you have to learn to play on it, to know how it works like lifting the key very quick in order to use it again, in the meantime the tapes rewinds. After a while I had had made a correction on the Mellotron that gave me the opportunity to play on one key for 9 seconds instead of the usual, infamous 8 seconds. The sound of a Mellotron often becomes miserable because of the wastage, after some time it’s impossible to filter away the noise. And playing on a Mellotron you constantly have to use the pitch control button, what a misery. I remember that I gave order to a technician to install a ‘fine-control’ and a ‘stabilator’ for the synchrone-motor in order to let it sound more stable. But despite these flaws I love to play on a Mellotron, especially the strings, choirs and flute, they come mighty close to reality because these are real recordings. On the TRACE album Birds I have used the Optigan Music Maker for the church organ and carillion sound. The Riha Classica was a substitue for the church organ on stage, I let it build by a factory, it even featured wheels, in those days a Riha was very revolutionary. The Synthi-A synthesizer looked like a small suitcase, you had to buy a keyboard because it only contained an electronic boards with knobs and pins. It was not really easy to use it but great to experiment, especially for weird sounds. The ARP 2600 synthesizer was one bit musical expedition, everything depended on you knowledge and skills. The Minimoog synthesizer was famous but the oscillators went out of tune very quick on stage, I have used the Minimoog only a short time. I was mesmorized by the Yamaha GX-1 synthesizer, superior to the Yamaha CS80, the price was more than 700.000 dollars! In fact the Yamaha GX-1 was 36 polyphonic synthesizers in one featuring three keyboards (two polyphonic). I needed almost 1,5 year to programm it but then I was able to creat my own sounds. I recorded two albums with the Yamaha GX-1 and made the soundtrack of the movie Night Of Doom with it. The church organ is the most beautifu keyboards, especially when you open the keys and the pipes ‘started to speake’, you feel so much power while playing on a church organ, incredible! Recently I have bought a Hammond Suzuki XB-3, it’s the digital version of the Hammond B3. Of course it cannot replace the sound of the B3 (it sounds less raw) but playing very loud, it still moans and groans!”

 

Do you often think about EKSEPTION?

 

“No, not at all, it was great, we had a lot of fun, made many albums that sold very well but it’s history. In 1994 we did a final reunion tour in Germany, that was the moment to stop, especially when I noticed that we had become old and grey men. But I have fond memories of EKSEPTION, I will carry the musical heritage forever with me.”

 

Do you still have musical dreams?

 

“One of my musical wishes is to make an album with fellow keyboard player Thijs Van Leer from FOCUS. We are from the same musical era and have a good relationship. I hope that once this will turn out in a musical project from the two of us. I am sure that the musical press will be very interested!”

 

In the late Seventies the Dutch TV broadcasted a sensational 50 minutes concert from TRACE featuring Keith Emerson-like ‘stage antics’ from you on stage. What can you remember and will this be released on DVD?

 

“In that time I was very influenced by Keith Emerson, as I said before, and on stage I got so excited and I had so much energy while playing with TRACE. And I had a huge pile of keyboards, nicknamed ‘the cockpit’! The interplay between the members of TRACE was very inspirational, what a pity that the expectations couldn’t match with the musical results because we had such a huge potential.

Releasing that footage on DVD is out of my reach because of the rights, it’s up to the companies, I am afraid that it will remain on the shelves somewhere...”

 

 

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Trotsky View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 23 2006 at 06:24
Thank you Erik!
"Death to Utopia! Death to faith! Death to love! Death to hope?" thunders the 20th century. "Surrender, you pathetic dreamer.”

"No" replies the unhumbled optimist "You are only the present."
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 23 2006 at 06:40
OK, Trotsky, I hope this interview will give an inside of Rick his huge skills, knowledge and enthousiasm! At about half a year ago I had arranged an update of this interview with his sympathic wife Inez. Rick was already very ill but loved to do this 'interview-update'. Unfortunately during the answering of the first question it appeared that he was too tired and in fact too ill, Inez told me. At that moment I knew that he would not live very long .. how sad!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 23 2006 at 08:26

Very nice interview.

Thanks Erik.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 23 2006 at 08:41

Very good interview

He will be missed! 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 23 2006 at 17:06

Thanks Erik - awful news, though sadly not unexpected after such a massive stroke.

I remember buying Trace and Birds when they first came out and they were great albums.

Thanks for the great music, Rick

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2006 at 02:10
very interesting
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2006 at 05:12
Thanks to you!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2006 at 09:38

Thanks for publishing the interview.

It's sad that Rick has died, especially because he still had so many plans. For his new Ekseption he had already written the music for a new CD, plans were afoot for releasing a live CD and a live DVD, and he had written his share of the music for his collaboration with Thijs van Leer (Focus). Only, those plans were thwarted due to his failing health. I definitely had the feeling that once his health would allow him, he would add an entirely new and exciting chapter to his life. Unfortunately it was not meant to be.
With his early departure Holland has lost one of his most important musicians. His unique musical talent has enriched the lives of many of his fans, and he will be missed.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2006 at 10:41
What a great progressive keyboardist and what a great loss.  He died pretty young.  Great interview Erik.  Thanks to you, we have a glimpse into the mind of a great virtuoso.  I just recently discovered Trace, being from America it's hard to find this stuff but the advent of the computer has brought a lot of great music to my doorstep. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2006 at 11:43
Great player, sad loss. I always vastly preferred Trace to ELP, though sadly both my Trace albums have disappeared from my collection. The Dutch scene was amazing in the early 70s with Trace, Ekseption, Solution, Focus and Golden Earring all making superb music.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2006 at 12:21
What a pity the collab with van Leer won't go on now.

Steinways are the best.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2006 at 12:52

 

                                              ATTENTION:

Tomorrow the Dutch tv will broadcast a special about Ekseption, the band that made Rick famous. Time 16.50-17.35 on Nederland 2 (January 25th) !!

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2006 at 14:38
The special can also be seen online, just surf to http://www2.sterren.nl/ and click on 'Three ekseptional days'.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 25 2006 at 09:52

We miss him.

We lost a Wizard of keyboards!God bless him!

Pedro Rocha
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 26 2006 at 11:51

So sorry to hear of the passing of Rick Van der Linden.

When living in Holland in the sixties and trhoughout the years I have been a big fan of his work in Ekseption and Trace. And always cherish a moment in my life that I had a chance to meet him.

Rick was a no frills kind a person, I met him one day while driving the regular bus back from School. He was on his way to a recording studio in Hilversum, and I spotted him rigt away, his long frizzy blond hair, his eccentric coat, had stitched patterns, and with like a sheep fur wool lining. Some chains around his neck, one with a peace sign, and his partner with him looked sort of like him but female, it was dancer Penney de Jaeger.

We had a friendly conversation, he was sooo down to earth. I will miss him, its unfortunate when such a talent passes away, the things in his brain that never will be developed. But we have a vast library of great recordings.

Goodbye Rick, Heaven just got a great keyboardist for its greatest band ever.

 

 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 26 2006 at 13:02

When I interviewed Rick I asked him about his relationship with Penny De Jager, a sexy and crafty female dancer who acted in Toppop (the famous Dutch popmusic programm in the Seventies) when the original artist couldn't come or there were no images available. It was not the most pleasant period in his life because she was very eager to be in the spotlights and she had a hole in her hand ...

I agree with Flying Teapot that Rick was a very nice person. And those who were lucky to witness the Dutch tv special about Ekseption could see Rick with an amazing Hammond organ solo and playing The Sabre Dance and, as Flying Teapot described: "his long frizzy blond hair, his eccentric coat, had stitched patterns, and with like a sheep fur wool lining." That was Rick too!

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 27 2006 at 13:38

I was just on the Ekseption webpage and was happy to see a link to some concert footage of Rick and the band in concert and in the studio. It shows off ricks abilities, and his need for perfection. His was a classy act.

I also read that the bass player of Ekseption Cor Dekker passed away in October 2005.

here the link to the video and the Ekseption website http://members.home.nl/ekseption/

go to where it states :"Bekijk Ekseption Special" (view ekseption special) or click link below...

Video:

http://www.sterren.nl/index.php?id=videoplayer&streamID= 548

The website also has some pictures of a gathering in Rick's memory on January 27 2006 with members of Ekseption, all up there in age now, and also Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 28 2006 at 15:49
I hope this footage will be released on DVD, along with the legendary Trace concert!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 28 2006 at 18:23
It was very sad news for me.I love music by EKSEPTION and TRACE very much.Rick Van Der Linden with his famous Hammond organ signed on my heart ineffaceable TRACE.I salut his memory. 
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