Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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Procol guitarist Richard Brown: BtP interview

Draw your own conclusions


Claes Johansen's Procol biography, Beyond the Pale offered most Procoholics the first inkling that anyone had played guitar in Procol Harum before the days of Ray Royer. This was Richard Brown, about whom a 2000article in The Brechin Advertiser revealed more background.

BtP contacted Richard in the early days of the present century and, over the course of a few e-mails, obtained a vivid impression of that 1967 background, here presented in a four-part interview. Because his testimony didn't entirely tally with various other well-known chronologies of the band's early days, however, BtP sat on it for a while, eventually sending it to Matthew Fisher and to Gary Brooker for their comments. Matthew's response (verbatim wording lost, thanks to Hotmail!) was something to the effect that Brown's memory was not entirely reliable. Gary didn't send a written response, but mentioned in conversation that he thought Brown had played only generic blues numbers at audition, no Procol material at all (It is presumably Brown who 'went back home the following day' according to a 1976 ZigZag interview). So regrettably Brown's apparent insight into early Brooker/Reid material is by no means watertight.

Richard Brown was eventually called as a witness in the Whiter Shade of Pale lawsuit in which, to BtP's surprise, this then-unpublished interview was cited: Brown was cross-examined in detail by Andrew Sutcliffe QC, for the defendants. Clearly if everything he'd told BtP had been taken seriously in court the trial verdict might have been rather different, so fans reading it now are advised to treat all that follows with a grain if not a pillar of salt.

As with all the material on this website it is offered as an interesting part of the Procol Harum story, but it's up to the reader to decide what truth, if any, it may contain. Brown mentions playing with Barrie Wilson, for instance: and BJ didn't join the band until 19 July 1967 on the departure of Bobby Harrison: Brown may perhaps be inadvertently grafting the well-known names of Fisher and Wilson on to other less celebrated musicians whom he met briefly in a Procol context. BtP relies on the discretion of each reader to 'draw your own conclusions'.

Part 1
Reminiscences: repertoire ... Reid ...
Part 2
Prospects with the band
Part 3
Rehearsing with Morris on organ and Wilson on drums
Part 4
Fisher in, Brown out ... living-conditions chez Guy Stevens

Richard Brown's page at BtP


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