A musician of nearly legendary prowess, Jan Akkerman for a time eclipsed Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck among reader polls in England as the top guitarist in the world. Akkerman was born in Amsterdam, Holland, and showed his musical inclinations early, taking up the guitar while still in grade school. His taste and interests were extraordinarily wide-ranging, from pop/rock to classical, with room for blues, Latin, and other influences. He joined his first band, Johnny & His Cellar Rockers, in 1958, at age 11, which included his boyhood friend Pierre van der Linden on drums. Later on, the two were members of the Hunters, an instrumental group whose sound was heavily influenced by that of the Shadows. He acquired a special interest in the lute while on a visit to England during the mid-'60s, during which he saw a performance by legendary classical guitarist Julian Bream, whose repertoire of medieval works also fascinated Akkerman. This interest, which broadened to embrace a fixation on medieval England and its countryside, later manifested itself in such works as "Elspeth of Nottingham" from Focus III.