In the spring of 1969, two ex-members of Swiss band Egg & Bacon, lead guitarist Danny Andrey and bassist Teddy Riedo, formed a new band, Ertlif. The name derives from a mysterious magician and alchemist rumored to have been almost successful in turning ordinary stones into gold; they lived in the forest of Teutoburg at the time when the woodlands were full of fauns, goblins, and leprechauns. After sessions with numerous musicians from other Basel bands, James Mosberger (ex-Only Ones, ex-Countdowns) joined the band on keyboards, followed by drummer Hans-Peter "Bolle" Borlin (ex-Countdowns) and lead guitarist Martin Ruder (ex-Fresh Pastry), uniting the cream of the Basel music scene.
Right from the start, Ertlif played only their own original compositions and enjoyed performing live. The two guitars meshed with Mosberger's Hammond organ to create a characteristic Ertlif sound. In August 1971, Ertlif became the only Swiss band invited to appear at the monster pop concert in Munchenstein. Ruder left the band in October 1971 and was replaced by Englishman Richard John Rusinski (ex-Autumn Symphony), an experienced lead singer with an expressive voice and dynamic stage presence. Ertlif were, in essence, the first Swiss progressive rock band, and they used Mellotron and synthesizer at live concerts. The members' instrumental virtuosity made the group one of the nation's top acts, and Ertlif became one of the very few bands to obtain a recording contract.
Following a big tour through Switzerland, an LP was produced in August 1972 in just three days. The album was launched in October together with a single, resulting in radio interviews, television appearances, and much press coverage. The band began its promotional tour with three consecutive nights of sold-out shows at the legendary Atlantis in Basel. Guitarist Robi Suffert (ex-Gad Fly) replaced Andrey in June 1973, and Ertlif expanded for a short time with Andy Gerber (violin, piano). In July 1973, the band returned to the studio to record its song "Plastic Queen" for the Swiss rock sampler Heavenly & Heavy: Mixed Swiss Rock Candies. In January 1974, drummer Urs Schumacher (ex-Gad Fly) replaced Bolle and, by the autumn of 1975, Jurg Lutzelschwab (ex-Gad Fly) had taken over the keyboard duties from Mosberger. The music became more rhythmical with a stronger accent on the lead guitar.
Ertlif continued to perform up to 1978 before disbanding to seek fresh challenges. The band re-formed in August 1992 with original bandmembers, and subsequently added guitarist Andy Seghers to the lineup. Performing live on an intermittent basis into the new millennium, Ertlif also released the CD Illusions in 2001.