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Ton Scherpenzeel and Kayak hit the Dutch progressive rock music scene starting in 1972. They achieved a slow but steady series of European hit singles including ‘Lyrics’, ‘Mammoth’, and ‘Wintertime’ while pursuing the mainstream success that their musical contemporaries, YES and GENESIS were enjoying in the international limelight.



Kayak's Ton Scherpenzeel
Photo by kind permission of Ton Scherpenzeel

KAYAK's latest, ‘Kayakoustic Live’ CD 2007 is available from

KAYAK 1972-1981

Such worldwide fame eluded the group at that time as they went about their business of making and performing their own brand of symphonic progressive pop/rock while rising to the top of the Dutch music scene. With the release of critically acclaimed albums such as ROYAL RED BOUNCER and STARLIGHT DANCER, the big breakthrough always seemed to be imminent.

However, repeated lineup changes, lukewarm American record buyers, and the evolving disco/punk scene eventually downgraded Kayak’s hopes for commercial success. Indeed, the music of Kayak was well-known to prog rock aficionados during this golden era. Ever hopeful, Ton Scherpenzeel went back to what he does best; composing and playing in their home market, mainly Belgium and The Netherlands.


In 1981, in an outburst of fantastic creativity, Kayak’s writing team of keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel, his wife and backing singer, Irene Linders, (but minus drummer Pim Koopman, who had left the band in 1976) returned to their symphonic roots and composed the album that many fans consider to be the high point of their career: ‘Merlin’.


Fans will be excited to learn that the ‘Merlin’-suite was recently resurrected by the writing team trio, 22 years later, and transformed into Kayak’s first fully blown rock opera; ‘Merlin – Bard of the Unseen’. There has since been another Kayak rock opera, 'Nostradamus – the Fate of Man', in 2005.

But as fate would have it, the original ‘Merlin’ in 1981 marked the end of Kayak’s first incredible nine year run, for due to numerous reasons, both financial, personal, and managerial – Ton Scherpenzeel disbanded Kayak in late 1981.


The original founders, Ton Scherpenzeel and Pim Koopman restarted Kayak in 1999 after Dutch band De Kast invited Kayak to their TV-program "Vrienden van Amstel Live" to perform their biggest hit, a lovely ballad called Ruthless Queen.

Since then, Kayak has released seven albums and are currently working on their eighth. A new Kayak album, "Coming Up For Air", is scheduled for late 2007. Ton Scherpenzeel and Kayak will also tour after the release to celebrate their 35th anniversary.

Kayak, 2006
Photo by kind permission of Ton Scherpenzeel.


I caught up with Ton Scherpenzeel in September 2007. He talks about the new album, what makes him happy, and about moving forward:

Hi Ted,

Thanks for your interest in Kayak and the promotion on your Myspace site. We're in very good company indeed.

How is the latest album, 'KAYAKoustic Live' being received?

- Very well amongst fans who have seen the show, better than I expected even. Like the tour, we've kept it small, unpretentious and intimate, and look upon the result more as a document, a souvenir for those who were there, than as an official release. We only recorded one show, and that was it, really. It's been a learning and confronting experience for us too, playing our songs this way.

What are your favourite tracks?

- Always a difficult question, as the songs I enjoyed playing do not necessairily have to be the best tracks on the album. But here you go: Only you and I know, When Hearts Grow Cold.

A few thoughts about your 35th anniversary?

- Time flies.

Which excites you more, composing or performing?

-Without composing I probably wouldn't perform. Composing is what I do best. But I appreciate performing more than I used to in the old days.

Are you winning new fans?

- I don't know, I'm not counting. But I can say that the age range of our audience is surprisingly wide, we have a lot of younger fans that weren't even born when we started, and probably got to know us through their parents (well, they couldn't have heard us on the radio, that's for sure).

Of course our fan base dates back from the 70s. And with so many lineup changes, it's obvious that you can't please everybody. Especially older fans hold on to the past. And I can understand that, but life is about change.

Current Lineup: Ton Scherpenzeel (keyboards, vocals) Pim Koopman (drums, vocals) Edward Reekers (vocals, percussion) Cindy Oudshoorn (vocals, percussion) Rob Vunderink (guitars, vocals) Joost Vergoossen (guitars) Jan van Olffen (bass)

Official myspace site:
Offical band website:

This Post has 1 Comment Add your own!
Doefie - 20 November 2007 at 02:36

Hi Ted,

Thanks for your kind reaction to my Kayak fansite! I had already read your interesting interview with Ton some time ago (even in a Dutch translation, I think?). Keep up the good work, and if you have any questions concerning Kayak, just let me know!
Jeroen, The Netherlands

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