Procol Harum

the Pale

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Ringo's All-Starrs, 1999

Kelseyville, 6 March

Terry Earlywine recently sent BtP this article about a close encounter with a musical hero:

Last weekend with my wife and friends I went to see Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band at a small resort in northern California. The show, though it started late (typical), was absolutely fantastic. Ringo picked a great combination of musicians for this tour.

Of course my reason for going was to see the skipper (GB) belt out the classic Procol tunes. And that he did, and more. His back-up vocal and keyboard playing (KORG sampled piano etc. and B3) for the rest of the band reminded me how much of an all-round musician he is. The chemistry of the band was great! They all seem to get along like a bunch of school buddies.

The most surprising song of the evening to me wasn't the Procol tunes, though they were by far the best-written and performed, but the Cream tune I Feel Free. The combination of Jack Bruce and Gary Brooker was so incredible it sent chills down my spine. Behind them with counterpoint vocals were Todd Rundgren and Tim Capello which showed the strength of this group's vocal power. Needless to say it was fun had by all right up to the tenth or twelfth standing ovation.

The next day while checking out of our room, who should come casually walking up to the check-out desk next to me? None other than Gary Brooker.

Not at all prepared for the situation, I immediately started looking for something for him to sign. Having forgotten my mint condition Shine on Brightly album and sharpy pen, I was getting desperate. Both armpits started pouring like open faucets. Finally I turned to him and told him how great the show was. His reply was, 'Thank you. Yeah, it's been great fun.' I said, 'I guess you're off to Berkeley from here?' He said, 'Yes that's right'. I said that was the last place I had seen him. He said, 'Oh yes, you mean the Greek theater in '95.' I said no, I missed that show, but had seen him in the 70s at Berkeley Community Theater. His reply: 'Oh yeah, the 70s!' with a smile, 'We played there a lot in the 70s.'

Starting to feel more comfortable, I decided to ask, 'Are there any plans of another Procol revival tour?' JUST then both counter clerks interrupted the conversation and that was it ... until my wife walked out of the lobby with her girlfriend, both with big smiles on their faces.. I asked, 'what happened?' 'We just had our picture taken with Gary Brooker!'

Apparently they cornered him in the hallway and my wife's girl friend asked a passer-by, 'Would you take a picture of us with Gary from PURPLE Harum?' My wife, aghast, along with Gary in harmony of course, said 'PROCOL!' Gary said it twice: 'PROCOL, that's Procol!'

My wife said he was such a gentle soul, it was a real treat. They also got his autograph and presented it to me.

I'm Happy!

More Ringo / Gary dates

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