Nobody really paid much attention when producer Mike Vernon signed Dutch instrumental quartet, Focus, in late 1970. Europeans couldn’t rock.
It turned out that Focus could rock harder than almost anyone in sight.
Hocus Pocus was the song that proved it.
Featuring the curious yodeling of flautist and keyboard player, Thijs van Leer, it was amongst the most distinctive records ever made, tracing the connection that nobody knew existed between uncompromising prog rock and novelty pop.
Guitarist Jan Akkerman’s original vision for Hocus Pocus called for bagpipes to duel with his stampeding guitar, before it was decided that yodeling would be even stranger. The single entered the Billboard Top 40 on 21 April 1973, and would go Top 10.
Their biggest hit, Sylvia, made the US Top 100 and peaked at #4 in the UK earlier in 1973.
Two Focus albums also hit the UK Top 10.
Thijs Van Leer
Organ, flute, vocals
Pierre Van Der Linden