The band was also joined by Rob Kruisman, who became the new bandleader. Later that year also Rick Van Der Linden (keyboards) joined the group. He was a classically trained musician who finished Conservatory and had played with several jazz- and popgroups, one of them was the Occasional Swing Combo. They met each other, because both bands played at the same gig. Van den Broek was impressed by the playing of Van der Linden and asked him to join Ekseption. In 1968 the band entered the Loosdrechtse Jazz Concours and won the first prize, a record deal with Phonogram.
At the end of the year the band was about to record their debut album with producer Tony Vos. By this time Alta and Griek were replaced by bass guitarist Cor Dekker (he died in 2005) and drummer Peter de Leeuwe. As the first single "Beethoven's The Fifth" was chosen and it became an instant hit for the band. The follow up singles "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Air" became big hits as well. Because of this chart success Van der Linden became the new bandleader. In 1969 Kruisman left the band because he was not happy with the new musical approach. Shortly after that also co-founder Van Kampen left the band (he dies in 2003). He left the music business, and became a music teacher.