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Venus

by

Shocking Blue



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

The group's guitarist Robbie Van Leeuwen wrote this song. The group is from The Netherlands, which led to an interesting translation problem when Shocking Blue lead singer Mariska Veres sang the English lyrics. Van Leeuwen wrote the first line down incorrectly: what was supposed to be "A goddess on the mountain top" he wrote as "A goddness on the mountain top," and that's exactly how Veres sang it. Most listeners didn't notice, and the many cover versions corrected the error, but the result was a #1 hit with a misspoken first line thanks to a typo.
The female vocal trio Bananarama recorded this in 1986. It was one of the first songs they started performing when they formed the band.
The distinctive guitar riff was taken from The Who's "Pinball Wizard."
This was produced by Jerry Ross, who also produced another Dutch group, Tee Set, who performed "Ma Belle Amie". Ross also produced an album of orchestral arrangements of his (primarily) Dutch stable of hits, under the name Jerry Ross Symposium. (thanks, Jeff - Scottsdale, AZ)
In the US, both this and the Bananarama cover version reached #1, making it one of the few songs to do so. Strangely, in the UK both Shocking Blue and Bananarama reached #8 with "Venus" and both spent 13 weeks on the chart with the song. (thanks, Adam - Dewsbury, England)
On an episode of the MTV cartoon Beavis And Butthead, Butthead makes up his own lyrics to this but gets frustrated when he can't think of anything that rhymes with "Venus."
In Shocking Blue's home country, this never made it to #1. After the success in the States, the song was re-released, but climbed no further that #3 in the Dutch Pop charts. (thanks, Rick - Holland, Netherlands)
In 1959, Frankie Avalon had a US #1 hit with the same title. There were 2 other instances of different songs with identical titles reaching #1 on the Billboard charts. "My Love" was #1 for Petula Clark in 1966 and another "My Love" turned the trick for McCartney & Wings in 1973. Then "Best Of My Love" topped the charts for the Eagles in 1973 and a different song of the same title was #1 for The Emotions in 1977. (thanks, Rick - Calgary, Canada)
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Comments (28):

Venus by the Shocking Blue is one of those songs you kind of take for granted because it was always in the mix until you find out that the lead singer Mariska Veres has died at 59 from cancer (Dec. 2, 2006) and it makes you think about her distinctive vocals and the guitars. It's a definite classic rock staple...
- Henry, Sanford, FL
Bridesmaid for three weeks, but then on January 11th, 1970, "Venus" by Shocking Blue moved into the #2 position on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it spent three weeks at #2 but on February 1st, 1970 it finally moved into the #1 spot...
It remained at #1 for one week and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100, and for 9 of those weeks in was on the Top 10...
Sixteen years later Bananarama covered it; and on August 31st, 1986 their version also peaked at #1 (also for 1 week) on Billboard's Top 100.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
The writer of this song is not Tom Verlaine... lead guitarist (and not lead singer as also credited here) Robbie Van Leeuwen wrote this song and most of Shocking Blues music. BTW, Tom Verlaine is the much talented guitarist for Television. Not sure how he received credit for this song....
- Richard, Louisville, KY
The Bananarama remake of this song is just a wee tiny bit too bee-boppy for my tastes, yet I still like all its girl energy. The original is fabulous. The screaming in the middle of the song is perfectly animalistic in nature, accentuating the words that Venus "got what no one else has." Ah, yes, one of those girls. Sigh. We all wish we had what she had. I never saw this video until today (2013), and Mariska is a incredibly gorgeous, always loved that name, too. I have to say, tho, the video is so incredibly blah, there is no passion to match those fabulous vocals. Still, the song stands the test of time, a precursor to the woman described in "Green Eyed Lady".
- Camille, Toronto, OH
Mike, Youngstown, OH: Another song that reached #1 in two different forms was 'You Keep Me Hangin' On.'
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
"Venus" and "Shocking Blues" also means personal nostalgia for me, as I was born in The Hague in the Sixties. In the meantime I have been living in Vienna for many years. In the sixties The Hague was the Liverpool of the Netherlands producing many internationally successful pop acts like the Golden Earring, Livin' Blues, Tee Set, Earth & Fire and of course Shocking Blue. Most the groups came from the neighbourhoods in the South-West, the same area where I grew up. However it was not a personal inspiration for me. Although much later I have started to play the piano and the guitar and write songs in my childhood I was not particularly interested in pop music.
But I did love "Venus" and especially Mariska Veres' performance. Although she was the face of Shocking Blue it was Robbie van Leeuwen, who wrote the song and got the royalties. Many years after her time as a pop icon Mariska Veres worked at a callcenter together with my sister. I would be have been fun if at a pop festival in the sixties a soothsayer would have told my sister that once she would become a colleague of Mariska, who topped Billboard!
- michael, Wien (Vienna), Austria
Correction for Jeff of Scottsdale, AZ. I don't think that it can be said that Jerry Ross produced this. According to both his and Shocking Blue's biographies, he was already in Amsterdam and heard this already on the radio before it came to his attention. He signed them up immed, and then it became the hit that it was, #3 in the home country and #1 elsewhere. It was successful whilst they were on his label, but I can't see how he could have produced it. In fact, I worked with a guy in 1980 who claims to have produced it, but I have never been able to verify that.
- Chris, Sydney, Australia
I hadn't realised that Mariska Veres had died, that is so sad. I remember 'Venus' when it was released in 1970, I had just left school (in Brisbane) and the film clip, Mariska was so lovely. There was something of a 'Dutch Invasion' on the Australian charts around that time - Shocking Blue, Tee Set, Golden Earring and George Baker Selection, all with good songs - but Shocking Blue's 'Venus' was the best of them. Great riff & vocal.
David, Adelaide, Australia
- David, Adelaide, Australia
Brad, it is true, Mariska didn't speak any English at the time, and sang the song phonetically when the band recorded it. However, she was so beautiful, I'm imagining she could have sung random words from the phone book, and no one would have minded.
- John, London, ON
This is for Rick in Ft. Wayne IN: It's most likely that the group wasn't fluent in English, and that the lead singer mispronounced goddess. It doesn't matter though. It's a way cool song!!!
- Farrah, Elon, NC
The writer, Robbie van Leeuwen, admitted in 2007 in a TV interview that he knew The Banjo Song and "was inspired by it".
http://www.nicomokveld.com/audio/zolder/The%20Big%20Three%20-%20The%20Banjo%20Song.mp3
- Nico, Amstelveen, --
The song is a rip-off. It's stolen from "Oh Susanna / Banjo Song" by the Big 3 featuring Mama Cass 1963.
- caj, sthlm, Sweden
Mariska Veres died of cancer on 2 December 2006, aged 59, and was the daughter of a gypsy violinist.
- Ande, flint, MI
Jesus, that Mariska was such a babe! What a shame we have to get older and die. Far out cool song and with that stunning face fronting it, well, your imagination does the rest, doesn't it? RIP Mariska.
- Guy, Wellington, New Zealand
Sitting on danish cargo-ship "Sargodha" in january 1970 on the way from the Panama Canal to Los Angeles this catchy tune was played a lot on all the different radiostations we listend to.
Another big hit on the stations was Mark Lindsays "Arizona", so those two songs has stucked with me ever since
- Lars, Copenhagen, Denmark
This is the main theme song/jingle for Gilette's Venus, 3-blade disposable razors (the equivalent to the men's "Mach III")
Nice ads with a nice song, showing long-legged gals stretching their smooth silky legs up and out for our viewing pleasure. . .
- Cyberpope, Richmond, Canada
may you LIVE in peace? This may be a little too much to ask when you're dead
- Eric, Maastricht
I remember "Never marry a railroad man", a very good song too but the other I don't know. They also had a succes with a song called "Inkpot" or something like that. Mariska Veres had a very good voice and I'll always remember the succes the group had with "Venus", it's so good.
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
The Shocking Blue also had two smaller hits 'Never marry a railroad man' and 'Send me a postcard darling.'
- Reuben, Amsterdam, Netherlands
I am of the understanding that when this song was recorded, the group, or at least the lead singer was non-English speaking. Any validity to this? I thought that would explain 'godness' instead of 'goddess'.
- Brad, Topeka, KS
Saturday december the 2nd. Mariska Veres died at the age of 59. Mariska, may you live in peace and happiness.
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
Why "god-ness" instead of "goddess?"
- rick, fort wayne, IN
Remarkable: The intro, the guitar riff, is also used in the Stars On 45 Medley in 1981. Most of this medley contents Beatles songs.
So this 'Venus' riff topped the USA Charts three times!
- bevaart, pijnacker, Netherlands
This song has been a great succes in the Netherlands and Belgium, but also in the United States and in the UK, a very good song, it doesn't happen very often that a Dutch group has such a succes. Bravo, The Shocking Blue!
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
Cool pop tune reminds me of my youth, 70's AM radio!!
- PHIL, San Jose, CA
Not only did both Shocking Blue and Bananarama's versions of "Venus" get to #1 in the States...so did Frankie Avalon's earlier, unrelated song of the same title. I can find only one other instance of two different songs with the same title both reaching #1: "I'm Sorry" by Brenda Lee, and "I'm Sorry" by John Denver.
- Mike, Youngstown, OH
The biggest version of this song in the UK in terms of chart positions was by a short-lived dance outfit called Don Pablo's Animals, who's instrumental cover (featuring James Brown booming "We're Gonna Do A Song You've Never Heard Before!" at the beginning) went to No. 3 in the UK in July 1990
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
the lead singer ,said she would only join the band as long as the other guys wouldn't hit on her
- pete, nowra, Australia
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