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Mariska VeresDecember 2, 2006 – Mariska Veres was born on October 1, 1947 in The Hague. Her father was the famous Hungarian Romani violinist Lajos Veres, and her mother, Maria Ender, was born in Germany of French and Russian parents. In the early childhood years Mariska often accompanied her father on the piano along with her elder sister Ilonka.

She began her career as a singer in 1963 with the guitar band Les Mysteres. In 1965 she joined the Bumble Bees, the Blue Fighters, Danny and his Favourites, then General Four in 1966, and the Motowns later in 1966. In 1968 Mariska was invited to join Shocking Blue to replace singer Fred de Wilde who was called into the armed forces.

A reincarnation of The Bumble Bees had performed at a party where Veres’s stunning appearance and powerful vocals attracted the attention of Shocking Blue’s manager and publisher. He talked bandleader van Leeuwen into having Veres replace de Wilde. “She had a very impressive voice, quite different from all the other girl singers,” van Leeuwen recalled: “She was rather like Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane. Once she joined, everything happened very quickly. The first single we did was ” Venus” in 1969. In one year, everything we dreamed about happened. It sold millions around the world and gave other Dutch groups a belief in their own potential.”

With its acoustic guitar intro, piano riff and haunting vocals by Mariska Veres – most memorably on the chorus, “I’m your Venus, I’m your fire, at your desire” – the single “Venus” made the Top Ten across Europe in 1970, including the UK, and reached the No 1 spot in the United States. It turned the striking-looking Veres, with her big, blue kohl-lined eyes, high cheekbones and long jet-black hair (which was actually a wig), into a sex-symbol.

They gained worldwide fame with their hit single “Venus” which even now, 50 years later is still a tune used in many TV commercials. The song would go on to make it to number one in the American Billboard chart two more times – in 1981 by cover band Stars on 45 and in 1986 in a version by girlband Bananarama.

Shocking blue split in 1974, during which time they had released a further 15 singles and 10 albums, scoring hits including “Never Marry a Railroad Man”, “Hello Darkness”, “Blossom Lady” and “Eve and the Apple”.

Veres embarked on a solo career, with occasional help from van Leeuwen. The label of ‘sex symbol’ never sat comfortably with her however and by the end of the Seventies she had cut her hair short and wore long dresses on stage. In the late Seventies, they considered reforming Shocking Blue, which went as far as recording a track called “Louise”, which remains unreleased until today., They did play a couple of concerts in 1984. In 1993 she started the jazz group The Shocking Jazz Quintet recording an album ‘Shocking You’. From 1993 to 2006 Mariska performed in yet another reincarnation of Shocking Blue.

Despite the free spirited lifestyle of so many in the music industry at that time, Mariska never embraced the rock-n-roll lifestyle. She loved cats, never drank or took drugs and made it clear upon joining the band that she would not get romantically involved with any of the members. She was pleasantly naïve and quite sensitive; when the band’s founder and chief lyricist, Robbie Van Leeuwen shouted at her at one time, something he was infamous for, she burst into tears and went to the nearest telephone to ring her mother who promptly phoned the band’s manager to complain!

Mariska died from cancer on December 2, 2006 at age 59