Golden Earring - a band whose recording career has spanned five decades! - are known principally for their massive 1973 hit "Radar Love
", which is arguably the weakest track on their enormously under-rated 1973 Moontan
album. Running to some 9 minutes 16 seconds, "Vanilla Queen" was inspired by a woman of about forty lead vocalist Barry Hay saw on the club circuit. Hay was born in 1948, all the other band members were of the same or about the same age, and forty seems positively ancient to a twenty something rock musician at the height of his powers! In a certain parlance, vanilla refers to the way people dress, in particular dressing down rather than up, ie everyday clothes.
Hay scribbled a couple of lines and was told by lead guitarist George Kooymans that the nascent song sounded like it was about Marilyn Monroe. It develops when the narrator meets the Vanilla Queen in a dream sequence, which is supplemented by samples of Monroe's voice from the musical There's No Business Like Show Business
The spoken phrase "What's your name, honey?" is used by Monroe in the song "Heat Wave", and the phrase "Well, in simple English I am..." is used in a prelude to the song "Lazy
", which like the rest of the score was written by Irving Berlin.