She was our ‘Venus’…
“A goddess on a mountain top, was burning like a silver flame. The summit of beauty and love and Venus was her name”. The opening lyrics backed by an unmistakable guitar and organ chord sequence catapulted ‘Venus’ by Shocking Blue to the top of the charts across the globe. The year was 1970 and the single was number one in the American Billboard Charts. By 1973 the band would go on to sell over thirteen million records before breaking up the following year.
The lead singer of the band was a young Dutch woman called Mariska Veres who joined the band in 1968, a year after they formed in The Hague. Her soul inspired voice coupled with striking looks and stage persona immediately attracted a wider audience and they were soon enjoying million copy selling success on both sides of the Atlantic.
Despite the free spirited lifestyle of so many in the music industry at that time, Mariska never embraced the rock n roll lifestyle. She never drank or took drugs and made it clear upon joining the band that she would not get romantically involved with any of the members. She was pleasantly naïve, when the bands founder and chief lyricist, Robbie Van Leeuwen shouted at her she burst into tears and rang her mother who promptly phoned the band’s manager to complain!
The label of ‘sex symbol’ never sat comfortably with her, by the end of the Seventies she had cut her hair short and wore long dresses on stage. The sad fact was that when she pursued a solo career her looks attracted more attention than her records. A string of singles from the mid Seventies onwards did not sell well and by the 1980s she was singing with jazz bands in Holland. There was an attempted reunion of Shocking Blue but according to Robbie Van Leeuwen it never materialised because of Mariska’s refusal to take part.
In 2006 Mariska Veres died of cancer. She never married or had any children. By her own admission she was unapproachable in the early days, she considered herself as little more than a doll who never found true inner happiness until she turned her back on the industry and pressures of being a beautiful woman in the spotlight. So here’s the video to her most successful single with the Shocking Blue. The lip synching is not great, it never was back then but she certainly has a presence. Forget comparisons with todays artists and imagine seeing her in the late sixties for the first time, there was just something about her…
Categories: The Music Lounge