FOCUS will be remembered for being a band that brought instrumental music back to the charts in early seventies. This was exemplified by the yodelling epic “Hocus Pocus” and the beautiful “Sylvia”, and – at the time when Britain entered the “Common Market”, blazing a path for European music in both the UK and America, where they had hit singles as well as albums. They also had Jan Akkerman and Thijs vanLeer, two of the best instrumentalists in rock. Jan Akkerman, Focus’ guitarist, quit the band on the eve their sold-out UK tour in February 1976. After incessant touring and internal disputes, this shocking news was unexpected. The 1975 album, ‘Mother Focus’ received mixed reviews. Hugh Fielder wrote in ‘Melody Maker” that the band had lost their thrusting nature. Thijs van Leeuwen, the founder of the band and the longest-surviving member, was able to enroll jazz fusion guitarist Philip Catherine on the tour. He was up to speed by the time of the BBC’s ‘In Concert’ recording, March 1976. While some might miss Akkerman’s exuberance, there is no doubt that Catherine gave a competent performance. After this tour, Focus’ days were over. The group reunited for one last album, ‘Focus Con Proby.’ This featured the unexpected presence of sixties pop singer PJ Proby. Van Leer pursued a solo career, which had contributed to Akkerman’s departure. Catherine returned to jazzier music. David Kemper, who had been playing drums on many of the Mother Focus’ tracks, stepped in and returned to session work. Bert Ruiter, who had been with Focus since 1972’s ‘classic line-up, reappeared in Earth and Fire. from

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