This great article was produced by Evert Aaij and appeared at Audio Creative in 2005. Please note that all (c) are with Audio Creative and the author.

If anyone has influenced my musical development in my youth, it is Rick van der Linden. Exceptional Classics. I soon came into contact with his music and his arrangements of classical works. My parents had the famous Ekseption collector Ekseptional Classics in their record collection. It was especially the jazz influences and improvisations that fascinated me enormously. He was also the man who motivated me to keep taking piano lessons, because I wanted what he could do. Unfortunately I was never able to achieve that. But if you have the honor of standing next to him once while he plays, the inspiration comes naturally!
Rick van der Linden was born in Badhoevedorp in 1946 but soon moved to Haarlem. There he took piano lessons at the age of thirteen, soon won three piano competitions and played works by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Mozart and Mendelssohn with major orchestras. After the gymnasium he went to study at the conservatory in Haarlem. In 1967 he graduated and received honorary certificates for Piano, Church Organ, Harmony and Counterpoint. He immediately started working as a teacher at the same conservatory. Although he was always interested in music styles other than classical, it was that job as a teacher that fueled that even more. Due to the many different fields of study of the students, there was more interest in jazz and pop. It is 1968 when Rick is asked to join Ekseption.


Ekseption started out in 1958 as a school band called The Jokers. The band plays pop music of that time, rhythm & blues and jazz. In 1965 the name changes to Incrowd, but it appears that there is already a band with that name. In 1967 it becomes Ekseption. When Rick van der Linden takes place behind the keyboard in 1968, the band also consists of Rein van den Broek (trumpet and flugelhorn),Tim Griek (drums), Cor Dekker (Bass), Rob Kruisman (Saxophone) and Huib van Kampen (Saxophone, flute and guitar). Tim Griek soon decides to stop and is replaced by Peter de Leeuwe. Griek later produced Brainbox and André Hazes, among others.
With Rick van der Linden in the ranks, the band is playing better and better and they are soon at the Loosdrecht Jazz festival. A renowned and prestigious festival where only acoustic, so unamplified, was played. When Ekseption comes in with a Hammond B3 and a pair of Marchall amps, organizer Max van Praag taps van der Linden on his shoulder and says: “If you make too much noise I’ll kick you out! We can’t have that here….”

It will not come to that because they win the festival. However, that presents a problem for jury chairman Tony Vos. The prize is making a single led by Vos. The band was not well known, actually only played in Haarlem and the surrounding area and they hardly had material to play an LP full. So they went into the studio and they came up with a version of the song Barnicle Bill the sailor. A carnivalesque folk song about a sailor who goes past the whores in every harbor . Rob Kruisman sang the part of Barnicle Bill and Rick van der Linden that of the hookers. “The first and the last time I sang” says van der Linden later in an interview. Phonogram in all their wisdom decides this is not appropriate.

But Rick van der Linden had been toying with the idea of making arrangements of classical pieces for some time. But it took something else to actually start using it. It was the English band The Nice with keyboard virtuoso Keith Emmerson who gave the idea to develop this. The Nice had a big hit with an adaptation of Leonard Bernstein’s America. A song from The West Side Story. And the song also features pieces from Dvořák’s new world. They go to a concert of The Nice in 1968 with the whole band and are impressed.

Shortly afterwards they are asked for a big festival in Haarlem. The intention is to perform an arrangement of a well-known classical piece with the North Holland Philharmonic Orchestra. But a few weeks before the festival, the orchestra decides not to play with a pop group. The festival continues, but without Ekseption.

Ekseption 78 is indeed released in 1978. The gold cast, in virgin white, on a gold sleeve. But success is not forthcoming and it will not be a gold record. Rick van de Linden and Rein van der Broek are making an album together under the name Cum Laude. This is unexpectedly very successful and is awarded a gold record.

The next album doesn’t do anything either. Dance macabre mainly consists of re-recorded Ekseption classics and they were not waiting for that in 1981. Of the old Ekseption members only Rick, Rein and Dick play along. The band was further supplemented by the former Kayak members Max Werner and Johan Slager. In 1989 the very last Ekseption album is released. In the old line-up and again the concept of Dance Macabre. And so with just as little success. They play live in small halls and bulb sheds. And there is still little incentive to continue. In 1994 Ekseption will be 25 years old and a live CD will be recorded. Cor Dekker and Peter de Leeuwe are not there. A number of concerts are given in Germany. If one evening the concert goes badly and with difficulty, the plug is definitely pulled from the band.

Beethoven’s Fifth

The arrangement of Beethoven’s fifth that Ekseption had made for the festival was recorded in the studio. The Fifth became the lead single. But unfortunately the single does not catch on. Only when Tony Vos’s wife, Veronica DJ Tineke, starts playing the song does it start to become more and more popular. It eventually takes almost 6 months for the song to roll into the top 40. That’s where the song ends up in third place! The concept has been found, the first success is there, time for an album!

In 1969 the first self-titled album is released. The album naturally contains the necessary classical pieces. In addition to The Fifth, there are arrangements of Kcatchaturian’s Saber dance, Bach’s Air, Falla’s fire dance, Gerswin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Saint Saens’ Dance Macabre. Little X Plus is the only own composition and shows that the men can also write and arrange good music themselves. The album is a huge success. And immediately the band plays throughout almost all of Europe.
The next two singles, Rhapsody in Blue and Air, are also a success. They also do well on stage. But that is not only due to the musical qualities of the band. Rick van der Linden’s unimagined stage act in particular is doing well with the audience. He never sits still. In other words, he’s not sitting at all. In no time at all, the stool has flown backwards several meters and is raging over the keys like a wild rage. Meanwhile, van der Linden has more or less been appointed as the band’s musical leader. He had plenty of ideas.
Rick wants something big and more own compositions. But there are differences of opinion within the band and Rob Kruisman and Huib van Kampen decide to leave the band. Van Kampen enters music education and Kruisman can be seen in various bands with the Gigantjes and Carlsberg as the most important achievements. There is no replacement for van Kampen, who often played guitar. The role of Kruisman is taken over by Dick Remelink. A striking personality who had more roots in pop and rock.

“Let’s be honest, they weren’t the best musicians in Ekseption. I always say: put the best musicians together in a group and they knock each other’s brains out. They are all soloists and they all want to play their part. A Band has to fit together like a puzzle and that’s how Ekseption was in that formation. Peter de Leeuwe, Cor Dekker, Dick Remelink, Rein van den Broek, and me. It was a unit,” said Rick van de Linden.

Personally, I think differently about that. It was certainly a unit, but children of men, how could those men play! The parties of Rick van der Linden, Rein van der Broek and Dick Remelink are of course striking. But pay attention to the genius and virtuoso bass lines of Cor Dekker and put on Bach’s Air and concentrate on the subtle and beautiful percussion of Peter de Leeuwe.
Despite the busy tour schedule, they are soon working on a new album. And as said; it had to be big. On the previous album all credits went to the whole band, now everything is written and arranged by Rick van der Linden. It became Ekseption’s great masterpiece…

Beggar Julia’s time trip

In 1970 Beggar Julia’s time trip is released, a concept album about the time travel of Julia who comes into contact with various composers and music styles. On the album, drummer Peter de Leeuwe was temporarily replaced by Dennis Whitebread. It was never clear to me what the reason was. Michel van Dijk takes care of the vocals and Linda van Dyck, then a singer with Boo and the Booboo’s, tells the story in an almost touching English with a Dutch accent.

The album opens with only the wind section, supported by a tuba with a folkloric melody, which is soon followed by a piano concerto by Tchaikovsky. But the atmosphere soon changes as Linda van Dyck begins to tell the story. Sound effects can be heard in the distance while not a single synthesizer is used on the entire album. If you listen carefully you can hear what it is: Three cymbals recorded on top of each other. Furthermore, an overdriven Hammond organ and the Tony Tone were used for the effects. I don’t know what the Tony Tone was exactly. All I can tell you is that it was an electrical device developed by Tony Vos. You could make all kinds of effects with it and it was first used when making a pause music for radio Veronica.

In the meantime, Michel van Dijk takes over the story in the beautiful song Julia, after which the years pass by. Julia sees Albinoni and Bach compose with the music of the Adagio and Italian Concerto respectively, the album’s only single. The time of the great classical composers ends with a piano concerto by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The song Pop Giant takes Julia through pop, funk, jazz and soul music.

An organ must roar!

The end of the album is a big wish from Rick van der Linden. The king of all instruments; the church organ.

And just the way he liked to hear it, with all registers open. “An organ must roar” he said in an interview with Leo Blokhuis. “In Haarlem they had to close the cracks in the wall that the lowest register had drawn in. Which instrument can do that? Isn’t it just the organ?”

Commercially, the album is a reasonable success and gets a lot of appreciation. The work is awarded an Edison.

Expression 3

That same year, the next album is already in the record stores. Simply called Ekseption 3. Peter de Leeuwe is back behind the drums. Michel van Dijk decides to quit because he finds the band far too instrumental. Van Dijk is later singer of Brainbox and Alquin. The new singer is Steve Allet from the group Ginger Ale.

The album is a musical interpretation of the booklet Le petit prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and it quickly reached the number one spot on the album charts. The single Peace planet is also a mega hit. Commercially, Ekseption 3 is the band’s most successful album. It is also the album with the most vocals. But also the last album with vocals.

The song On the Sunday they will kill the World is one of my personal Ekseption favorites. Based on Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# minor, van der Linden created an almost perfect pop song. In 2006 the Swedish Gothic Metal band Draconian made a, as far as I’m concerned, cover of the arrangement by Rick van der Linden.

Will it stay with 3 good albums?

We have already paid attention to bands and artists who have made three, often legendary, albums. Was it over with Ekseption after three albums? It certainly wasn’t over. The band made two more albums in this line-up. Ekseption 4 and Ekseption 5 are not bad albums but lack the real magic of their three illustrious predecessors.

Ekseption 4 is dominated by the 15 minute long Piccadilly Sweet. A piece that van der Linden wrote for orchestra and band. The Royal Philharmonic orchestra was recorded in London and the band later played their parts in the Netherlands. Molope is also striking, a Jimmy Smith cover with its own middle section.

At number 5 is A la Turka (Piano Sonata no.11 in A, K.331 by Mozart) Ekseption’s last hit. And as if they knew it would soon be over, a tribute to the band that was such a great inspiration. For Example/for sure is a cover of a song by The Nice.


Cracks begin to form in the tire. Especially Dick Remelink and Peter de Leeuwe don’t make life easier for the rest of the band while touring. When De Leeuwe has forgotten his passport for a performance in Germany and the band has to cancel the performance, that’s enough. Both gentlemen are kicked out of the band and replaced by Jan Vennik on Flute and Sax and Peter Voogt on drums. The album that follows is Trinity. Success does not come.

It is the newcomers Jan Vennik and Peter Voogt who insist on having more input in the repertoire. But van der Linden stands his ground. He thinks the Ekseption sound is Rick van der Linden. The quarrel gets to the point that Rick van der Linden is kicked out of the band. Van der Linden immediately filed a lawsuit to protect the name Ekseption. But the moment the judge makes a ruling and determines that the band name Ekseption is exclusively associated with Rick van der Linden, van der Linden has been replaced by Hans Jansen and they are touring Germany. There is also a new album. And all under the name Ekseption. They make two albums after which the band changed the name to Spin.

The white engine

Musically, Rick van der Linden does not sit still and soon he is playing with a band again. And what one! But we’ll come back to that later. Although the heyday seems to be over, Rick van der Linden has not gone unnoticed at home and abroad.

He plays together with Vangelis, of which unfortunately no recordings have survived, and he is a guest musician with Brand X, Phil Collins’ hobby band.

But the commerce also has an eye for the keyboard virtuoso. Such as the “Milk, the white motor” campaign with the then wife Penny de Jager, who of course knew all of the Netherlands from Top Pop. But there is one company that Rick van der Linden uses to bring their latest product to the attention worldwide: Yamaha…

The Dream Machine

Yamaha came up with a revolutionary instrument. A combination of a Synthesizer and an organ with three manuals and bass pedals The instrument was also equipped with two impressive loudspeakers as standard. One of the truly revolutionary features was that it was fully programmable.

The GX-1, as it was officially called, was immediately nicknamed The Dream Machine. Whether it was Rick’s effort I don’t know but soon there were a number of famous users including Keith Emerson, of Lake & Palmer , John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Abba. And of course Stevie Wonder.

Our local Yamaha dealer also had the opportunity to give a demo with Rick van der Linden. It was a Wednesday afternoon that I will never forget. The street was already busy and in front of the shop window a large group of people was looking at the window. Rick was in the shop window with his GX-1! Despite the crowds I managed to get in and after a while I was standing right next to Rick van de Linden. Wide-eyed and probably open-mouthed, I watched those virtuoso fingers racing across the three keyboards. He lets you hear as much of the device as possible, interspersed with solos from the Ekseption repertoire. And at the back of the store was Penny de Jager waiting with a cup of coffee until hubby is ready.

My enthusiasm is even greater when it was announced that Rick had recorded an album with this instrument. Unfortunately it is a dragon of an album. Yamaha had of course also demanded that it should be accessible to a very wide group. So not the violent improvisations that we were used to and that he did use that afternoon during the demonstration. It had become a weak promo record. After a little research I found out that Rick van der Linden only used the GX-1 once for his own work and that was on the album Ekseption 78. Although I have the idea that I hear it on Trace’s third album. But there’s nothing about that in the credits.


Did someone there say Trace? Already during the period of Ekseption 5 Rick van der Linden was working on a new project. A trio that you can rightly call a super group because Rick hadn’t asked the least musicians. The best Dutch drummer Pierre van der Linden from Focus, and Cuby and the Blizzards bassist and guitarist Jaap van Eyk. They’ve been playing live for some time, especially in Germany before the first album comes out. In the article from the music Express from 1974 on the right it says that the band is called Ace. This was soon changed to Trace because that band name already existed. They also say, “it borders on the unbelievable”. I can’t think of a better description.

The debut album is released in September 1974. When the first notes of the album sound you immediately think “Ah, Rick van der Linden”. The album starts out recognizable like one of the first Ekseption albums. But soon something changes. There is a drive and a power that reminds you of Emmerson Lake & Palmer. The music becomes more experimental and, I say emphatically, sometimes seems improvised. But, as usual from Rick van der Linden, everything was carefully thought out and arranged. It is the unbelievable enthusiasm that radiates from it that gives that feeling. Although there are indeed classic pieces used, you do not notice that. You also discover that Deep Purple was not averse to Bach. Just listen to the guitar solos of Child in time and then to the opening track of the Trace album.

Like a puzzle

Three of the best musicians together who don’t beat each other’s brains because they all want to play their solo. A puzzle that is 100% correct. The album sounds like they’ve been playing together for many years. This album is also very well recorded. The percussion in particular sparkles and has incredible dynamics! I can confidently say that this is Rick van der Linden’s absolute masterpiece. And is one of the very best records in Dutch pop history. Unfortunately no Rick album will be released that will reach this level or that of the old Ekseption.


Trace makes two more albums. Pierre van der LindeTrace – Birdsn is going to play with Focus again and so there has to be another drummer. It will be the still relatively unknown English drummer Ian Mosley.

The second album Birds really misses Pierre van der Linden! Mosley is a very good drummer but really a session drummer. The unity of the debut album is gone. The music is good but lacks the passion and energy of its predecessor. After Trace, Mosley played with Steve Hacket and Curved Air, among others. In 1984 he became the drummer for Marillion.

The White Ladies

The third album is a repetition of the concept of Beggar Julia’s time trip. The album The white ladies is based on the legend of the white women. The concept is indeed a copy. With a narrator and separate songs that flow into each other. The band consists of 7 members and a string ensemble. The band now also includes three former Ekseption members. Van der Linden asked Cor Dekker, Dick Remelink and Peter de Leeuwe to play along. But it’s all a bit “sweet”. Beggar Julia’s time trip was real art. The white ladies is kitsch.

In 1977 and ’78 there was some commercial success with a project together with Robbie van Leeuwen of Shocking Blue. Under the name Mistral they made synthpop while that term didn’t really exist yet. The second single Starship 109 reached ninth place in the top 40 and stayed in that list for 8 weeks. As a music lover you would rather not dwell on this, but yes it is part of history.

Ekseption comeback and inglorious decline

Even in this time, it is his then manager who encourages Rick to contact Rein van der Broek again. The relationship was seriously cooled at the time after van der Broek continued to play at Ekseption while Rick van der Linden was kicked out. One evening at Rick’s house there was a long talk and the argument settled. It was even decided to make another Ekseption LP. But Rick had one condition for that; in the golden occupation of yesteryear.

Ekseption 78 is indeed released in 1978. The gold cast, in virgin white, on a gold sleeve. But success is not forthcoming and it will not be a gold record. Rick van de Linden and Rein van der Broek are making an album together under the name Cum Laude. This is unexpectedly very successful and is awarded a gold record.

The next album doesn’t do anything either. Dance macabre mainly consists of re-recorded Ekseption classics and they were not waiting for that in 1981. Of the old Ekseption members only Rick, Rein and Dick play along. The band was further supplemented by the former Kayak members Max Werner and Johan Slager. In 1989 the very last Ekseption album is released. In the old line-up and again the concept of Dance Macabre. And so with just as little success. They play live in small halls and bulb sheds. And there is still little incentive to continue. In 1994 Ekseption will be 25 years old and a live CD will be recorded. Cor Dekker and Peter de Leeuwe are not there. A number of concerts are given in Germany. If one evening the concert goes badly and with difficulty, the plug is definitely pulled from the band.

Sad ending

Cor Dekker fell into a black hole after Ekseption. A very important part of his life fell into ruins. He became addicted to heroin and when the money ran out, he also started working as a dealer. He goes astray and ends up in jail. He was released in 2005 due to his ill health. Six weeks after his release, Cor Dekker died at the age of 57 from bladder cancer.

Rick van der Linden continues tirelessly, despite his ailing health. He is mainly concerned with his great passion, the church organ. In 1994 he also meets his new love Inez. Inspired by her special voice, Rick lets Ekseption rise one more time. In a completely new line-up with Inez and unknown but talented musicians.

He didn’t enjoy it for very long. Due to his diabetes and bad kidneys it is becoming increasingly difficult. His legs have trouble keeping up with his fingers as he sits behind the keyboards of a church organ.

Last words

In December 2005 Leo Blokhuis has an interview with Rick van der Linden in preparation for a documentary for the top 2000. Leo wrote a column about it in the music magazine Revolver.

This comes from the Matthew Passion, he says. The piano sings to him. Mache Dich mein Herze rein. A few years ago, he never thought he would be able to do this again. But he kept practicing and playing and practicing and playing. He ends up with Cent Mille Chansons, which I know from Frida Boccara. Bach, he says, provides the notes. And we can do whatever we want with it. He has imprinted Bach’s biography in my head for a while. He digs for the years. He seeks support from Inez for the details. He reaches for his piano for the illustrations. He plays Air. The jazz improvisation and the harpsichord solo from Ekseption’s Air. Faster and faster, more concentrated. Until he gets back to the starting theme. Look, he says. And then you’re home again.

A few days later he was struck by a cerebral infarction and on January 22, 2006 Rick van der Linden died of the consequences.

Of the other members of Ekseption, only Dick Remelink is still active as a musician. Rein van der Broek has long since left the trumpet in the willows. Peter de Leeuwe had many mental problems, also as a result of his hearing damage. Already during the Ekseption time he sometimes said “It’s like I have my head in a sink, everything sounds like that.”. He had been living in a nursing home in Heemstede for some time, in his room surrounded by Ekseption’s gold records. He died on February 5 of this year at the age of 66 after a cardiac arrest.

The end of an era

.Although musically that era had already come to an end for me. But Rick van der Linden has always remained a hero. Even if it was not my taste, there was always admiration. It was mainly the first three Ekseption LPs and the first from Trace that are high in my list of favorites to this day and are regularly on my record player. I myself have always had the idea that Trace’s debut album was closest to Rick van der Linden’s musical dream. In which he could let himself go completely, surrounded by the best musicians in the Netherlands. And then finally repeat that quote from Rick: “Bach gives the notes. And we can do whatever we want with it.”