“Venus” is a 1969 song written by Robbie van Leeuwen. In 1970, the Dutch rock band Shocking Blue took the song to number one in nine countries. In 1981 it was sampled as part of the Stars on 45 medley. In 1986, the British female pop group Bananarama returned the song to number one in seven countries. The composition has been featured in numerous films, television shows and commercials, and covered dozens of times by artists around the world.
Shocking Blue version
Shocking Blue in 1970
Released in late 1969 as a single from the group’s second album At Home, Shocking Blue’s single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 7 February 1970. RIAA certification came on 28 January 1970 for selling over one million copies in the US, garnering a gold record. Worldwide, the single sold over 7.5 million copies.
The song’s lead vocals are performed by Mariska Veres. The song’s music and lyrics are written by Robbie van Leeuwen, the band’s guitarist, sitarist and background vocalist, who also produced, along with record producer Jerry Ross. Van Leeuwen originally miswrote the line “…the goddess on the mountain top…” as “…the godness on the mountain top…”. This was corrected in later versions. The Hohner electric piano on the release was played by Cees Schrama.
Van Leeuwen was inspired by “The Banjo Song”, a composition by Tim Rose that set Stephen Foster’s lyrics to “Oh! Susanna” to a completely new melody.
“Venus” was remixed and re-released by dance producers The BHF (Bisiach Hornbostel Ferrucci) Team in May 1990, scoring the group a Top 10 hit in the UK and Australia 21 years after the release of the original. The remix featured a hip house rhythm and samples. An instrumental version was also released independently under the producer’s alias “Don Pablo’s Animals”. The instrumental version (credited only to Don Pablos Animals – without referencing Shocking Blue) became the highest charting version of the song. The single began with a sample from James Brown’s 1988 hit “The Payback Mix (Part One)”. This release of “Venus” peaked at number 4 on the UK Singles Chart and number 8 in Australia in 1990.