Group 1850: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 14, 2022


516) Group 1850 — “Zero”

Mystical Dutch space-psych ’68 A-side from Group 1850 — with accordion. And they never did LSD! Per Lenny Helsing:

Between 1966 and 1976 Group 1850 blazed an unforgettable path across the Dutch music scene. With mercurial singer/keyboardist Peter Sjardin at the helm, they made some of the most dark, daring, strange, subversive, mind-altering, barrier-smashing progressive music of the era.

Klemen Breznikar notes that:

[T]horoughly weirder-sounding contenders for infamy upon the [Netherlands’] charts . . . includ[e] the . . . monolithic utterance[] which . . . ‘Zero’ . . . would bring forth. These types of hugely experimental, forward-thinking, heavy song ideas would also find their way onto the group’s debut long-play record “Agemo’s Trip To Mother Earth” . . . .

And Richie Unterberger adds:

Group Eighteen Fifty is an interesting, if sometimes exasperating, late-’60s Dutch band who ranks among the most accomplished and original Continental rock acts of the era, though they made little impression in English-speaking territories. Starting as a more or less conventional beat band in the mid-’60s, they had taken a turn for the more psychedelic and bizarre by 1967. Determined to drive into the heart of the psychedelic beast, their songs (performed in English) are quite eclectic for the era, shifting from doom-laden tempos with growling vocals to sunny, utopian passages with breezy harmonies. The group could be roughly labeled as a mixture of the early Mothers of Invention . . . and Pink Floyd without much of a sense of humor; their songs are intriguing and not without powerful hooks, and the lyrics ambitious (if often inscrutable) . . . .

Drummer Beer Klaasse reminisces that:

One event was very influential in particular on Peter Sjardin. It was in 1967 in Paradiso, Amsterdam. That night, Pink Floyd performed in Paradiso and we were asked to be their support act and now 52 years later I recall every second of that evening! Because we were support act, we could stand on stage, so when Pink Floyd was playing, I stood two meters behind them and saw and heard everything that happened that evening. It’s one very special evening in my life . . . .

When I joined the band they were totally clean, not even a beer, but than we met a group of Dutch poets who were a few years older and performed with jazz and poetry, but they wanted to do, Beat and Poetry with us and one of them gave us our first blow and haha, now 55 years later I still like it. But LSD and other psychoactive substances none of us use. . . .

Shortly after the opening night of Paradiso in Amsterdam on the 30th of March 1968 [same concert mentioned above?], we were supporting act of Pink Floyd. The dressing rooms in those days were behind the stage down the stairs in the cellar of the building. And while Pink Floyd were performing, we came upstairs and stood on stage two meters behind them watching them. Can you imagine what an experience that was for us?! On that night we were inspired by Pink Floyd and we slowly started to change our music, we started to improvise more since that night and our songs became longer. . . . On the 24th of September 1967 we had another spectacular gig in Amsterdam in “The Concertgebouw”. On that night we were supporting act of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention . . . . One year later we supported at “The Concertgebouw” in Amsterdam another special musician. We were the support act for Janis Joplin!!!

By the way, Klaasse explains how the band got its name:

Before I joined the band, they already existed and called themselves “The Klits”. On the first of January 1966 they asked Hugo Gordijn to become their manager and he decided that they need another name, because “The Klits” went to far according to Hugo. The singer, Peter Sjardin, had an old watch from his grandfather with the year 1850 engraved on it and they decided to call themselves Groep (is dutch for group) 1850. . . .

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