Dutch band Shocking Blue.
On February 7th, 1970 the number one song on the Billboard Chart was “Venus” by Dutch band Shocking Blue, which the band released as a single in late 1969. Tom Jones quickly followed with his own cover of “Venus” on a self-titled compilation album put out by Decca in 1970. Sixteen years later, Bananarama got the top spot on the Billboard Charts with their energetic version of “Venus.” The weird kids loved Shocking Blue, too: Krist Novoselic of Nirvana was once quoted referring to Shocking Blue’s Klaasje van der Wal as “a bass god.” Compliments don’t get much better than that, do they? In fact, Nirvana’s very first single on Sub Pop was a cover of Shocking Blue’s “Love Buzz.” The Prodigy also covered the song with samples from the original song.
Shocking Blue experienced a lot of success thanks to “Venus,” “Mighty Joe,” and many of their other psychedelically-tinged singles, though “Love Buzz” really didn’t get through to their fans—but vocalist Mariska Veres did. Veres’ voice had both the deep, sensual tones of Cher, and a strong similarity to Jefferson Airplane powerhouse, Grace Slick. Veres’ good looks didn’t exactly hurt the band’s popularity either. Known for her long black hair (which was in truth an incredible wig), huge green eyes enhanced by massive lashes and black eyeliner, and her groovy outfits, Veres was impossible to ignore. After replacing original Shocking Blue singer, Fred de Wilde, Veres would help the band score their first gold record with the success of “Venus.” Veres wasn’t new to rock and roll when she joined Shocking Blue at the age of 21; she had been performing with bands in and around The Hague since she was sixteen. Shocking Blue hung around until 1974 when the band called it a day. Veres dove directly into a solo career but wasn’t able to recapture the same hit-making magic as her collaboration with Shocking Blue produced.
Mariska Veres was sadly lost at the way-too-young age of 59 in 2006.
Veres posing with a gold record in Amsterdam.
The captivating Mariska Veres of Shocking Blue.
Shocking Blue performing “Venus” on ‘Top of the Pops.’
Shocking Blue performing “Mighty Joe” on the Italian television show ‘Speciale Per Voi’ (Special for You) hosted by Renzo Arbore.
Nirvana kicking the shit out of “Love Buzz” in Austria, 1989. Chad Channing is on drums.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Feed your head: Grace Slick’s isolated vocal track for ‘White Rabbit’ will blow your mind
Fuzzed-out Japanese psych band The Mops cover The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and The Animals
Incredible early Nirvana gig at a tiny East Coast goth club, 1990
Bananarama covering the Sex Pistols might be the punkest thing ever