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About The Phantoms

The Phantoms were one of the best of a large number of early to mid-'60s rock & roll bands from central and northern Europe. They played a highly successful European continent equivalent to the British Invasion sounds coming out of the U.K. The quintet started out in college, Roald van der Horst (guitar), Ad van der Ven (guitar), and Fred Gundlach (drums) getting together initially in 1962. They their first performance as a trio in Belgium, entertaining a beer-drinking audience using an amplifier cannibalized from an old radio, with a total power output of about six watts. From that humble beginning, they soon added Wally Sout (bass), and Martien van Rooy (vocals) to their lineup. Their repertory was a wide one, encompassing rock & roll, pop, and folk, mostly with an American influence, but also reflecting some of the music coming out of Europe, including such British phenomenon as the Shadows' instrumentals. In mid-1963, however, they discovered the music and, more important, the approach to the music of the Beatles, and were among the earliest rock & roll bands in the Netherlands to embrace their sound. By the summer of 1965, the Phantoms were successful enough to get a recording contract of their own, making their debut with "Jack the Ripper," a rock & roll novelty tune lifted from the repertory of Screaming Lord Sutch -- despite a strong lead vocal performance and a tone mixing hard rock and a goofy chorus, it was no more than a local success. But a few months later, they recorded James Brown's "I'll Go Crazy," an American hit that had been covered in England by the original Moody Blues (whose approach they very much emulated). This became their breakthrough hit, charting nationally after the Phantoms performed it on television, and they were suddenly getting bookings all over the country, and attracting promoters in Germany as well. And the Phantoms were suddenly being booked to work alongside the likes of U.K. singing star Dave Berry at the Sports Palace in Ghent. A brace of follow-up singles appeared, of which the most successful was the Sout/Van Rooy original "Tormented." And a self-titled LP -- which was comprised half of covers of British and American rock & roll and R&B numbers and half of originals by Van Rooy and Sout -- was released in 1966. The group was booked on a tour of England, which marked the high point of their international career. The original lineup lasted until 1966, when Van der Horst quit to join his father's business. Wally Sout later switched to guitar, and Paul Reekers joined on bass. The group made some inroads in Germany and England, but by 1969 they'd called it quits. Their work was later reissued on CD in Germany and Holland, and has proved quite durable with audiences who have heard it in the 21st century. ~ Bruce Eder