Golden Earring was formed in 1961 in The Hague by 13-year-old George Kooymans and his 15-year-old neighbour, Rinus Gerritsen. Originally called The Tornados, the name was changed to Golden Earrings when they discovered that "The Tornados" was already in use.
The name Golden Earrings was taken from a song, originally sung by Marlene Dietrich in 1947 and a hit for Peggy Lee in 1948, with which they opened their concerts. Initially a teenybopper band, Golden Earrings had their first chart success with their debut single Please Go, recorded in 1965. It reached number 9 on the music charts in the Netherlands. Unsatisfied with Dutch recording studios, the band's manager and co-discoverer Fred Haayen arranged for the next single to be recorded at the Pye Records studios in London. The record cut at Pye, That Day, reached number two on the Dutch charts, having been prevented from rising to number one by The Beatles' Michelle.
In 1968, the band earned their first number one hit in the Netherlands with the pop song Dong Dong Diki Diki Dong. This was followed by a successful psychedelic album Eight Miles High, which featured an eighteen-minute version of the title track, itself a cover of the 1966 hit song by The Byrds. The live version, which could last 45 minutes, was considered by some to be a highlight in their first and second American tours.
Golden Earring embarked on their first major US tour in 1969 - 1970, and were among the first European bands to do so. Due to American influences, their music evolved towards hard rock, and they performed along with Led Zeppelin. Between 1969 and 1984, Golden Earring completed thirteen US tours. During this period, they performed as the opening act for Santana, The Doobie Brothers, Rush and .38 Special. In the early seventies, when Radar Love was a hit, they had KISS and Aerosmith as their opening act. They enjoyed a brief period of US stardom but were unable to secure further chart success until 1982's Twilight Zone. After a disappointing reaction in the US to When the Lady Smiles in 1984, Golden Earring turned their focus towards Europe where they continue to attract standing-room-only crowds. Golden Earring has recorded over 30 gold and platinum albums and singles, and a number of artists like U2, White Lion, R.E.M. and Bryan Adams have covered their international hit and rock classic Radar Love. In total, over 200 covers exist of this song.
Golden Earring is known for powerful live performances, performing over 200 concerts a year, mainly in home country The Netherlands and occasionally in Belgium, Germany and the UK. Their energetic live performances have led to several live albums. Live, recorded at London's Rainbow Theater in 1977, 2nd Live, 1981, Something Heavy Going Down, 1984 (also released on DVD as Live from the Twilight Zone.) Last Blast of the Century, a live registration of their last concert of the 20th century, is available on both CD and DVD.
While Golden Earring has almost faded from the international concert scene, they still maintain a core group of loyal fans abroad, and their music is still played on US, Canadian, British, Australian and other radio stations. However a new American or European tour is something the band is undecided about, although their 2003 record Millbrook USA was recorded in Millbrook, New York state, at the studio of fellow-musician Frank Carillo, which indicates the band has not lost touch with the US.
Golden Earring celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2006 and has been performing almost continuously ever since its start in 1961, and in the same line-up since 1970. It is one of the oldest rock bands in the world.