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.
Hay said "Vanilla Queen" is one of the biggest pieces the band play. On stage with the dream sequence taped quadrophonically, Rinus Gerritsen plays the synthesizer, and it sounds very orchestral. Coincidentally, the Elton John/Bernie Taupin tribute to Monroe, "Candle In The Wind", was recorded the same year.
The song also inspired a sculpture called Vanilla Queen; the American artist Joseph Canger said of this work "This is my take off of the Little Mermaid statue in Denmark- the soft understated sensuality of a young female nude. I found my model for this sculpture, dancing at a club late one night. The title was taken from an old Golden Earring song about an exotic dancer, so I thought it fit."
The sculpture is made of resin, painted with liquid copper, and sprayed with a corrosive material for its patina finish. Disappointingly, he could find no better location for it than the front of his house!
Suggestion credit: Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above