Harry Vanda (born Johannes Hendrikus Jacob van den Berg on 22 March 1946) is a Dutch-born Australian musician, songwriter and record producer. He is best known as a member of the 1960s Australian rock band The Easybeats.
Vanda's family migrated to Australia from the Netherlands in 1963, and settled in Sydney. Vanda, who had been a guitarist with the Hague-based band The Starfighters, came to fame in 1964–65 as the lead guitarist of the popular Australian group The Easybeats. In the same year he met rhythm guitarist George Young in a Sydney migrants' hostel. In 2007, Australian Musician selected this meeting as the most significant event in Australian pop and rock music history.
In 1966, Vanda began a successful and enduring writing partnership with Young; together they penned many of The Easybeats' 1960s recordings, including their major international hit, "Friday On My Mind".
After The Easybeats disbanded in 1970, Vanda & Young moved to the UK and continued their writing and performing partnership.
In 1973, Vanda and Young returned to Australia and took over as the house producers for leading independent record production company, Albert Productions, and publisher J. Albert & Son. From 1974 onwards they enjoyed huge success in Australia and elsewhere, writing and producing hits for a number of popular Australian groups and solo singers, including John Paul Young, Cheetah, Stevie Wright, Ted Mulry, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, William Shakespeare, Mark Williams and, most notably, AC/DC. AC/DC included George Young's brothers, guitarists Angus and Malcolm Young. Vanda & Young produced landmark albums such as Let There Be Rock, Powerage, If You Want Blood You've Got It, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, High Voltage/TNT, amongst others.
They also had major international success with their own studio-only project Flash and the Pan, achieving many hits round the world over a 15-year period, particularly in Europe where they had many chart topping records.
By the late 1990s, Vanda and Young had left their longtime partnership with Albert Productions, and they both retired from the music industry. However, in 2005, Harry Vanda started Flashpoint Music in Surry Hills with his producer/engineer son, Daniel Vandenberg, setting up one of Australia's premier private studios. The studio has produced bands such as The Wrights and 'British India'.
Harry Vanda has been twice married. His first marriage was to Pamela Joyce Higgins at Bankstown, New South Wales in 1964. A son, Johan (John) was born in Sydney in 1965 although tragedy struck when his wife Pamela died suddenly in early 1966. The son was brought up by Harry's parents, who had moved back to Holland. Harry's first son John married a Dutch woman, Esther Oesterholt and Harry has two grandchildren in the Netherlands, Mariska and Christian van den Berg.
Harry Vanda remarried in the early 1970s to Miss Robyn Thomas and they had two sons, Daniel and Simon. Harry Vanda and his family have been living in Sydney since 1973.
Vanda used a 1964 Hofner Verithin 1574 with Bigsby tremolo and 511 pickups, before switching in 1965 to a Gibson 345. In The Easybeats, Vanda also often played a cherry-red Maton 12-string electric guitar, which he donated to the collection of Powerhouse Museum in Sydney in 1999. In addition, Vanda owned the red Gretsch Jet Firebird double cutaway guitar that was given to George Young's younger brother Malcolm. This guitar, nicknamed "The Beast", saw numerous modifications and was Malcolm Young's primary guitar throughout his career in AC/DC.
Selected list of songs written by Vanda and Young
- "Friday On My Mind" - The Easybeats, David Bowie, London, Gary Moore (1987), Richard Thompson
- "Good Times" - The Easybeats, INXS & Jimmy Barnes (1986)
- "Evie, Parts 1, 2 & 3" - Stevie Wright (1974), Pat Travers Band (1978), The Wrights (Australian band) (2004), Suzi Quatro
- "Hard Road - Stevie Wright, Rod Stewart
- "Black Eyed Bruiser - Stevie Wright (1975), Rose Tattoo (2007)
- "Love is in the Air" - John Paul Young (1978)/(1992)
- "Standing In The Rain" - John Paul Young (1976)
- "I Hate The Music" - John Paul Young (1976)
- "Yesterday's Hero" - John Paul Young (1975), Bay City Rollers (1976)
- "Down Among the Dead Men" - Flash and the Pan (1978)
- "Hey St Peter" - Flash and the Pan 1976
- "Walking in the Rain" - Flash and the Pan, Grace Jones
- "Waiting for a Train" - Flash and the Pan
- "Midnight Man" - Flash and the Pan
- "Runnin' for the Red Light (I Gotta Life)" - Meat Loaf
- "Show No Mercy" - Mark Williams (1990)