Jan Akkerman – “Hocus Pocus”
Guitar World|April 2021
Focus | Moving Waves, 1971 | Guitarist: Jan Akkerman
By Chris Gill

Trivia question: who was the first Dutch guitarist to record a song called “Eruption”? The answer is not Edward Van Halen, but rather Jan Akkerman, who recorded “Eruption” with his band Focus in 1971 for the album Moving Waves (titled Focus II in Europe), although Focus’ song was a sprawling 23-minute prog-rock concerto based on the tale of Orpheus and Euridice instead of a blazing solo showcase. Akkerman’s performance on “Eruption” is certainly dazzling, but the song that mesmerized fans of Euro shred guitar long before Schenker, Roth, Van Halen, Malmsteen, et al. is the album’s scorching opening track, “Hocus Pocus.”

Driven by a heavy distorted guitar riff punctuated by jazzy major 7th chords and ripping hyperspeed solos that explored harmonic minor and Hungarian minor scales, “Hocus Pocus” was a showcase for Akkerman’s proto-shred style back when Ritchie Blackmore was still noodling around the pentatonic box. In between the riffs and solos were a bizarre assortment of auditory oddities, including yodeling, flute playing and whistling accompanied by accordion. An edited version of the song became a Top 10 hit single in the U.S. in 1973 and was certainly the last time an instrumental guitar song with accordion, flute and yodeling charted on the Billboard 100.

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