Rick van der Linden was a Dutch composer and keyboardist. Van der Linden first gained fame as a member of Ekseption, but played in several other bands including most notably Trace, as well as solo. Like his contemporary Keith Emerson, van der Linden was best known for his popular reworkings of classical music by J.S. Bach, L.v. Beethoven, P.I. Tchaikovsky and other composers.
Rick van der Linden was the second of five van der Linden children. His family moved when Rick was only 5 weeks old to Rotterdam, where they lived until 1957. Rick started piano lessons at age 7, but gave them up two years later because he wasn't enjoying them. When he was 11 his family moved again, to Haarlem where Rick attended the Triniteitslyceum. At 13 his father convinced Rick to try the piano again, so he was enrolled at the highly-regarded Haarlem School of Music. Two years later he became a private pupil of the famous Haarlem professor, Piet Vincent. At 17 he entered the Haarlem Conservatory where Aad Broersen and Albert de Klerk tutored him in the organ. His own musical taste was extremely eclectic, ranging from Baroque music to contemporary rock 'n' roll, especially after the beginning of the British beat boom. Rick finished his studies two years later and in 1965 passed exams at the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag and became one of the school's top students, winning honors in piano, organ, harmony and counterpoint. Rick thought he might become a teacher at the Haarlem Conservatory.
Meanwhile in the early 1960's Rick van der Linden fell in love with rock and roll, along with jazz and ballet music. While still a student he took a job in a nightclub bar, playing foxtrots, boogie-woogie, ragtime, films soundtracks, blues, tango, pop, Strauss waltzes and cabaret tunes while studying the classical masters during the day. He also found time to write music for several local ballet ensembles. He also played rock 'n' roll and jazz piano and organ with various ensembles. In 1964 he formed his first band, a piano trio, and later a brass jazz septet which played for fun and rehearsal only (never playing any gigs). After graduation Rick joined the Occasional Swing Combo, a professional jazz septet which played extensively. Simultaneously, Rick was also touring Holland playing with symphony orchestras, and appearing as soloist in concerti by J.S. Bach, Sergei Rachmaninov, L.v. Beethoven and Sergei Rachmaninov.
In 1966 the Occasional Swing Combo shared a stage with Rein van der Broek's jazz combo The InCrowd, and van der Broek was impressed with the young keyboardist. He offered Rick van der Linden the chance to join The InCrowd, Rick accepted, and in 1967 replaced the organist Johan Timmers. Soon after, they discovered there was another Dutch band with the name "The In Crowd" (derived from Ramsey Lewis's 1962 hit of the same name) so they changed their name to Ekseption, a Dutch spelling of "exception." In 1968 Ekseption suddenly reached an impasse - having won a recording contract with the largest record label in Holland, Philips, they found their choice of a single rejected. Earlier that year, Van der Linden had seen the Nice, a British neo-classical rock trio featuring Keith Emerson on keyboards, perform in Rotterdam a version of J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and was riveted by their mixing of rock and classical sounds in the same songs. Van der Linden was inspired to combine his love of classical music with modern presentation. When his group found itself without a prospective single, he stepped forward and suggested that they cut a 45 based on the first movement of L.v. Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 and Aram Khachaturian's Sabre Dance. The resulting record became a hit in Holland and other countries in Europe, and started the band in a whole new direction, with Van der Linden as leader.
Ekseption toured heavily, mainly through Europe, from 1968 to 1974, and won critical acclaim. Rick van der Linden became the most prominent keyboard player in Holland, and a real rival - at least at home - to the likes of Emerson and Rick Wakeman over the next four years. In late 1973, however, he left Ekseption to form Ace (later changed to Trace, when they learned that a British band had the name already), rock trio along the lines of Emerson Lake & Palmer, with drummer Pierre Van Der Linden (formerly of Brainbox and Focus, and no relation), and bassist Jaap van Eick. A more jazz-oriented group than Ekseption had been, but still a progressive rock outfit, the trio cut a debut album that yielded a successful single and earned a gold record in Holland. Unfortunately, they didn't last long enough to take full advantage of that early success, only releasing one more album before calling it quits. Van der Linden had done one album on his own in 1974, entitled "Plays Albinoni, Bach, Handel", and during the second half of the 1970's, he was recording soundtrack albums (Night Of Doom). In 1978 he returned to Ekseption for the first in a series of reunions, each less successful than the last. He also played with Mistral (1977-1980, with Robbie van Leeuwen (ex-Shocking Blue)). Later he began working with Rein van der Broek in a duo called Cum Laude (1980-1989).
Rick van der Linden released several solo albums, most reworkings of classical music in the Ekseption style (In 1981, a solo album, and in 1985 issued the LP "Old Friends, New Friends"). He remained one of Holland's best known rock musicians of his generation, and performed session work with artists such as Joachim Kuhn, Deep Purple, Phil Collins, Vangelis, Jack Lancaster and Brand X. In 1995 Rick van der Linden was struck by a CVA and was partly paralyzed as a result. He died on January 22, 2006 in Groningen, and was buried in Hoogeveen.