Unsteady Freddie writes to 'Beyond the Pale'
(6 November 2005):
Here are five shots from my visit to BJ on 27 October 2005. Included is one with me and Sue Wilson. I guess when one visits a graveyard it's supposed to rain?
Barrie is at rest in Corvallis, in the beautiful state of Oregon. The first shot is of the cemetery looking down towards the grave site.
It was a deeply touching moment for me
I spoke to Barrie, I believe, about three or four days before ... well, you know ... and I sit here in tears as I type this – finally a chance to re-connect with him – and let him know I still think of him all the time.
Sue is as beautiful as I remember her – we haven't seen one another since the late 1970s; I showed her a bunch of letters from BJ that I still have ... very moving moment, obviously
She and I approached the grave, and she told Barrie, "Your old friend Freddie's here ... and he misses you so much."
And I got on my knees and kissed that grave marker, and it felt good and hurt like hell at the same time ... so much emotion running through me I cannot tell you.
She told me that "Barrie loved me," and that she and Barrie used to speak about "How I made them laugh." Pass the tissues, please!
What stands out to me when I remember BJ’s playing are two sides of his technique – that classy, softer side (I’m thinking A Salty Dog); and that amazing way he played, to quote Sue, “as if he were two or more drummers" (I cannot help but think of Whisky Train).
I told Sue that Gary always makes a reference to BJ when Procol perform A Salty Dog, and she suggested that's because it was played at Barrie’s funeral service, and touched everyone.
In closing, reflecting back, Barrie and I both, unfortunately, were notorious for our 'excessive' behavior – and I won't and don't have to elaborate, do I? Hey I was in the record business (Chrysalis from 1978–1982) – so that speaks for itself!
If life were fair, I’d be lying in the ground somewhere today as well. But, a loving higher power has steered me in a more spiritual direction since 1998. No drugs, no alcohol: can hardly believe it myself. So, Procol Harum was actually 12-stepping me and I did not even know it – now, my mantra is, "Ain't gonna ride that whisky train, throwin' my bottle down the drain". God, I only wish Barrie was riding the same train with me ...
"Please show these pictures to BJ’s fans and friends via the Procol Harum website."
Thanks Freddie: you made that pilgrimage for all of us.