VERES (1947 - 2006)
With its acoustic guitar intro, piano riff and haunting vocals
by Mariska Veres - most memorably on the chorus, "I'm your
Venus, I'm your fire, at your desire" - the single 'Venus',
by the Dutch group Shocking Blue, made the Top 10 across Europe
in 1970, including the UK, and reached the #1 spot in the United
States. It turned the striking-looking Veres, with her big, blue
kohl-lined eyes, high cheekbones and long jet-black hair (actually
a wig), into a sex symbol.
Shocking Blue followed up their worldwide hit with 'Mighty Joe'
and 'Long And Lonesome Road', but remain forever associated with
'Venus'. It was covered at the time by Tom Jones, the Larry Page
Orchestra and the Chipmunks, and revived to great success by Star
Sound in 1981 and Bananarama in 1986. Two years later, Nirvana,
the grunge band led by Kurt Cobain, recorded a fuzzy, menacing version
of Shocking Blue's 'Love Buzz', a psychedelic track from their 1969
album 'At Home'.
Born in 1947 in The Hague, to Hungarian and German parents, Mariska
Veres was the daughter of the gypsy violinist Lajos Veres, and often
accompanied her father on the piano. She recorded a couple of solo
singles before joining a group called the Bumble Bees.
In 1967 the guitarist and sitar-player Robby van Leeuwen formed
Shocking Blue with the drummer Cor van der Beek, bassist Klaasje
van der Wal and lead vocalist Fred de Wilde. The following year,
the Bumble Bees performed at a party where Veres's stunning appearance
and powerful vocals attracted the attention of Shocking Blue's manager
and publisher. He talked van Leeuwen into having Veres replace de
Wilde. "She had a very impressive voice, quite different from
all the other girl singers," van Leeuwen recalled. "She
was rather like Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane. Once she joined,
everything happened very quickly. The first single we did was 'Venus'
in 1969. In one year, everything we dreamed about happened. It sold
millions around the world and gave other Dutch groups a belief in
their own potential."
Shocking Blue released a further 15 singles and 10 albums, scoring
hits including 'Never Marry A Railroad Man', 'Hello Darkness', 'Blossom
Lady' and 'Eve And The Apple' and broke up in the mid-'70s. Veres
embarked on a solo career, with occasional help from van Leeuwen.
In the late '70s, they considered re-forming Shocking Blue, going
as far as recording a track called 'Louise', which remains unreleased,
but they did play a couple of concerts in 1984.
Veres loved cats, didn't smoke, drink or do drugs and told the
members of Shocking Blue when she joined that relationships were
out. Reflecting on her early fame, Veres told the Belgian magazine
Flair: "I was just a painted doll, nobody could ever reach
me. Nowadays, I am more open to people."
Perrone, The Independent)