dubbed 'an honorary member' of Procol Harum by BJ
Wilson, here relates the events of a dazzling and
bewildering evening of shear joy in the band's company.
Never let it be said that I am not a stickler for detail. Recently however, one very astute fan and friend of Procol Harum has brought one single fact to my attention that has narrowed down when it was that the band and I may have first met. It looks like I was off by a year, give or take a few months, but I doubt anyone will hold that against me, let alone PH; as it appears more and more like we have known each other since birth!
The closest I can arrive at having met PH would be the same weekend as the Atlanta Pop Festival. Given the events and reports surrounding the night before, it would calculate not only with other concert dates that followed, but with BJ having said, "Wow! This is nice here!" Procol Hairum, the salon, then opened in April of '71.
Having clarified that, I would like to relate a very proud moment in Procol Harum's life that they cabaled to include and then first surprised and later dazzled me during and after a concert at Ithaca State College way back in 1972.
Initially, I had believed this particular concert had fallen near my birthday, but thanks to all the researchable history at BtP, my memory now tells me it was a poster that I had lifted entering the venue that validates my shoddy memory! The reason being, I just could not resist making memorabilia of the advertisement at ISC of the staging of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, which would coincidentally be showing the same day my birthday would fall on. And of course, the event being coupled with a concert by PH would make it all the more unique to me ... or so I thought. ;-)
Naturally, it was the success of Live at Edmonton that catapulted PH back on the road and I was ever so grateful when they didn't seem to mind, on occasion, my tagging along. So without hesitation, I found myself headed for Ithaca and points unknown if I could survive one of the worst flights I could ever recall being on.
My arrival landed me close to concert time (I was just glad we landed!) so it was a quick refresher and on to meet the band. I seem to remember that hotel being a very rustic, but quaint, Howard Johnsons.
PH always had / have a wonderful subtle energy about them. Always proper, always gentlemen, but when it came to performing, they were / are gamers all the way. The venue never seemed to matter and if it did, they never let on unless there were sound problems.
Normally, I would hang toward the back of the concert hall, sometimes backstage and sometimes I would meet up with Keith, but this particular evening I decided to sit with the audience which were mostly on the floor for this concert. I found myself a spot as close to the stage as possible and waited for those opening notes.
No need to explain how thrilling it was to find myself listening to the band I loved so much performing live once again. All of a sudden, Barrie rose from his drum kit and approached the center microphone.
"Hello Ithaca!" he said to a rousing chant of 'rahs' accompanied by applause. "Tonight we have a very dear friend by the name of Beverly in the audience. She's opened a hair salon called Procol Hairum and if you're ever in Riverdale, go and have yourselves a haircut!" He then proceeded to spin around showing off his recent haircut and added, "Great, isn't it?" Needless to say it was a very spirited moment and one that had me realising that osmosis could very well indeed be performed with a floor if necessary. ;-)
Following most concerts we would sometimes gather in some common area or venture out, but on this occasion it was decided everyone would meet at my room. Within an hour, the doorway became quite busy so I simply left it open and greeted everyone from a corner comfy chair. Before long, it was evident to me that there were an awful lot of people entering, some of whom I wasn't sure I knew and they all appeared to be headed straight for me.
Alan led the way, arms behind his back. I remember thinking, "What is going on?" With that, Alan released one of his arms and handed me a gift-wrapped package.
"What's this?" I asked.
"Open it," was the response.
As I began to unravel this awesome gesture, I could hear what seemed like everyone speaking at once. That subtle energy was just a tad more pronounced now and each one of them seemed to be excitedly describing the success of Live at Edmonton and how they wanted me to have something to complement the Gold Record they had received. Then I heard someone say,
"Sorry, we haven't been anywhere long enough to have them engraved."
There before me, lay a stunning pair of gold-plated haircutting shears.
It was all I could do to hold back the tears that still stream from my eyes whenever I think of that incredible touching night.
Thanks again Guys!
Kings, to me, you'll always be. ;-)*
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