Over the years there appeared to be quite a few similarities between Kayak and Earth & Fire. Of course musically (we were both placed in the symphonic rock category), but also behind the scenes. Our manager Frits Hirschland also took care of their affairs, and our producer Gerrit-Jan Leenders became their producer as well. We had the same record company, Phonogram. Not to forget there was Kayak guitarist Johan Slager, who once toured after Chris Koerts decided to leave Earth & Fire. Kayak and Earth & Fire also co-star on a promo single created in connection with the Rallye Monte Carlo, featuring alternate versions of 'Weekend' and 'Total Loss'. The cover showed Earth & Fire on one side, Kayak on the other. Both bands with their shoes in a swampy field along the highway at Zoetermeer.
In terms of success, our careers followed somewhat the same downward spiral after 1979. We had 'Ruthless Queen', which we never matched in terms of sales success. The same happened to Earth & Fire with 'Weekend'. It eventually led to a (temporary) final chord with both bands a few years later. We also shared the financial chaos left by both of our management.
Earth & Fire picked up the thread a little earlier. In 1987 or thereabouts I was asked by Bert Ruiter and Jerney Kaagman to play in a new line-up. It mainly concerned festivals and the so-called event circuit (company parties etc), from which apparently demand for the band had arisen. The first thing I asked of course was if Gerard Koerts didn't want to play the keyboards, and the answer was that both brothers didn't feel like it anymore. So I took nobody's place and because I had no other band at the time, I said yes.
Ab Tamboer took his place behind the drums, later replaced by Marc Stoop. (By the way, Ab also played drums with Kayak, to be precise: a whole song. He played the drum parts of 'Merlin' during a promotional TV performance in Italy because Kayak was at his hole as a band at the time.) Guitarist Age Kat was recruited. I was joined by Jons Pistoor on keys. A formidable soloist, and it made my job onstage easier.
For example, we played for a few years at some festivals, company outings and random clubs. It was very special that we even had 'Ruthless Queen' on the repertoire (another agreement so). I don't remember whether or not Jerney had made it 'king', but it could have been just like that. And because it was going so well, it was decided to make an album. That became 'Phoenix'. Most of the songs were written by the undersigned and Irene Linders - you could almost speak of an unintentional Kayak album in a fantasy line-up. The similarities are piling up.
Yet strangely enough I have rarely had the feeling that I was 'really' part of Earth & Fire. For me that was the line-up with Chris and Gerard (sounds familiar, Kayak fans?). I was happy to live in the house, but was a guest. The repertoire choice and business decisions lay with Bert and Jerney. In that respect I know from experience what it is to be on the 'other side' within a band, in which a couple determines the course. It was no different with Camel, by the way. I had no problem with this, just because I felt like a guest. No responsibilities other than musical. I just had to play, delicious.
I still fondly remember that period. It was great to be able to perform those songs, and my colleagues were all nice and talented people. Earth & Fire will never return, I think. Jerney has not been doing well for a while, as we know, Ab is dead, Gerard died last year… oh well, time is an inexorable executioner. But they were beautiful 'Memories'.
PS I do not want to deny you the last agreement, but it is in a completely different area. We (sometimes) shared a golden retriever. If Irene and I went on vacation or had to leave home for other reasons and couldn't take the dog with us, we could always park Milan with Jerney and Bert, who took care of her with love and dedication.
When we took our first awkward steps in the Dutch pop scene with Kayak in 1973, another group had been successful for a few years. Earth and Fire, because that was the name of the band, what was then called a typical 'album group'. They nevertheless managed to score huge hits with the regularity of the clock. We looked at it with healthy envy, because although the predicate album group was also considered to apply to us, Kayak was missing - to increasing concern of the record company - the real hits. I personally have never understood why you contract an album group and then look up if there are no top 10 hits, but soit. Sometimes a single got lost somewhere in the top-20 somewhere, but we had to wait until 1979 for 'Ruthless Queen' to really hit the spot.
Besides an adept composer duo (the twins Chris and Gerard Koerts), Earth and Fire also had another, not insignificant, asset. That was singer Jerney Kaagman. It was not only her vocal qualities, which fit like a glove beautifully around the songs of Chris and Gerard. But visually we were perhaps slightly less ehm...favored with Max Werner.