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WHAT'S IN A NAME

October 2017

(this blog previously appeared as Column in the magazine IO-Pages)

A while ago I wrote about the phenomenon of the more and more frequently emerging cover and tribute bands, and the following is actually a kind of follow-up to that. Soon we hope to release our seventeenth album with Kayak, and whatever else will be found - one thing I know for sure: many people will (again) say that this is no longer Kayak. What it might be is not entirely clear, but good. It is also nothing new, this has happened to us for about 40 years. But it does not really take getting used to.

It is a strange discussion. I have to admit one thing: in many cases the boundary between original bands and the tribute versions is becoming increasingly blurred due to the increasing turnover of band members. But yes, which famous band still plays in the first line-up? I would not know. In Kayak's case, there is only one original member in the group (indeed, the undersigned). But where exactly is this limit? Who should still be in a band to remain credible? Kayak was no longer very objective with the replacement of bassist Cees van Leeuwen by Bert Veldkamp in 1975. But apparently that didn't matter that much. Strangely enough, the departure of drummer / co-composer Pim Koopman, a year later, hardly caused anything (note, this was well before the internet era). The first serious protests came in late 1978, when singer Max Werner hung up his microphone to play the drums and his place was taken by Edward Reekers with two additional singers. For many, this was the final blow to Kayak - curiously enough, however, the band experienced its greatest commercial successes just after that. Fans certainly dropped out but there were also (and much more) added, who actually thought the previous line-up was just a bit strange.

Changing of the guard has happened much more with Kayak since then, and meanwhile there have been more band members than albums have been released. The number of lead vocalists, who have sung along or not on a permanent basis since it was founded, is no less than thirteen, if I have counted correctly. My conclusion is that everyone has their own ideal image of the group, which often seems dependent on the 'moment of entry.' Were you about sixteen in 1974? Then Max Werner remains the best singer ever. If Bart Schwertmann - our current vocalist - had been there, the same Max as a newcomer in 2017 probably would not have had a chance. I will never forget: Kayak with a lead singer, well, that was not possible around 2005 - some hardcore fans really did not understand what we were doing. When the same singer left the band three years ago, the Kleenex factory was working overtime, and Kayak was (again) Kayak. It was only other fans who thought that than those from 1978. You get it: everything is relative, including the line-up of a band. And certainly Kayak's.

Although it is the reason for this piece, the phenomenon is of course not limited to my own band. On the contrary, with the passage of years and the break-up of groups for various reasons, we see it happening everywhere. For example, nowadays there are two versions of Yes- where the 'fans' are often reminiscent of supporters of two rival football clubs. The fact that Brian May once ventured to continue with Queen after Freddy Mercury's death is seen by some as a kind of sacrilege. It's a dilemma if Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were to re-establish the Beatles with two replacements for John and George, yes, that would be weird. The Stones with another singer? Hm, it will be difficult. Abba without Agneta and Frida? I would probably have some trouble with it.

But Kayak? Come on.

Ton