At 72 years old, the supremely gifted guitarist is equalled by very few and his legendary ability makes him impossible to pigeon hole. His position as Dutch royalty has been cemented, he received the Golden Harp Award in early 2005, Holland’s most prestigious music prize and in 2012 he was appointed Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau, a royal honour that acknowledged his contribution to Dutch music and his influence on musicians around the world.
Akkerman gained international fame with Focus from 1969 – 1976 where he recorded a number of breakout albums; ‘Focus Plays Focus / In And Out Of Focus’ (1970), ‘Focus II/Moving Waves’ (1971) which reached the album chart in the UK #2, Netherlands #4 and #8 in the US going Gold. This album spawned the mega-hit ‘Hocus Pocus’ which reached #9 on the US Billboard Chart, #12 in The Netherlands and #20 in the UK singles chart and the song has gone on to appear on numerous TV shows such as Top Gear, Saxondale, Skins, Supernatural, Vinyl, My Name is Earl and Shameless as well we the 2007 film Hot Fuzz, 2014 remake of Robocop, 2017s Baby Driver and numerous TV advertisements including Nike. The song has been covered by a number of other artists including Iron Maiden, Marillion, Helloween, Gary Hoey, The Vandals and Vanessa-Mae. Focus toured Europe and the US including shows with Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa and Yes. In 1973 Melody Maker declared him the ‘Best guitarist of the world’, above Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.
Including live albums, Jan has released 30 solo albums and has collaborated with a number of musicians including Alan Price (The Animals), Jack Bruce and Ice T and also counts fans in Brian May who said Akkerman was “totally a hero of mine, there are some people in life that no matter how old you are, you feel nervous if you meet someone, he’s one of those, he’s a real role model”. B.B. King has also talked highly of him saying, “How can you forget a guy like Jan, usually with people that are as great as he is, you know of them, but you don’t always get to know them or their music, but you know their reputation. The nights that we played together was great, I wish I could play the things that he did.” Whilst Yes guitarist Peter Banks has also lauded him calling him “an almost perfectly formed musician, his classical playing was tremendous and his improvising was second to none.”