Interview Between Guest Disk Jockey 'Number Six' and Geoff Whitehorn – uclaradio.com Procol Harum Marathon #3 – 02 December 2001, here presented in two episodes, of which this is the first. Of course we have compressed the sound clips to aid downloading … the original broadcast quality was impeccable.
First .mp3 excerpt : starting out in music
This is Number Six at uclaradio.com and it is December 2, 2001 and we are very delighted to have the great guitarist, Geoff Whitehorn on the show today with us. Geoff, I understand that you took violin lessons as a child, but perhaps weren't that fond of the lessons and then took guitar at age 11. But when did you know that you really wanted to be a professional musician?
Ummm … that's a really weird question. I don't think I ever did, sort of necessarily want to become one. I just kind of did by default, almost. I played violin very, very badly as a kid. Excruciatingly. Hated every second of it. You know, the whole thing of being taught to do something. We all hate being taught, right? I think there's a little revolutionary in all of us. At whatever age. So I mean, I'm going back to kind of, I don't know, 1958, 1959. This is horrible. I hate this. The instrument hates me and we're making these noises like cats being neutered together … what on earth am I doing this music thing for? However, you learn by default, you learn how to read music, get to understand some of the theory of it. And the guitar came naturally because the guitars are easy. They have frets. You don't have to find out where the notes are. They're kind of there. And again, long story short, the guitar kind of took over from the job that I was doing when I left school. I was making more money playing the guitar than doing the job.
And so it occurred naturally that you then went into music. I guess.
Yeah. It was almost …sounds terribly, cynical, but ... there weren't enough hours in the day to pursue my day gig …Which was a really … not the greatest job in the world, but it was okay. Uhm…there weren't enough hours in the day to pursue the day gig and the night gig.
Second.mp3 excerpt : young Geoff, the Procol fan
Now I understand that you've been a long-time fan of Procol Harum even before you were involved with the group. How did you first get hooked up with the band, with Procol Harum, and then join it?
Oh, it was … I think I was recommended via one of their technicians, funny enough. When Procol reformed in 1991, a friend of mine called Dave Saunders, who was a real good keyboard technician - he became a real good technician. He used to work for me as a guitar tech back in the early 80s. I think he became … he worked for Stevie Winwood. He had a real good knowledge of MIDI stuff eventually and I think he ended up working for Gary and Matthew, round about the reformation of Procol, obviously in '90. And you know Tim Renwick kind of did the gig to start with after Rob decided he didn't want to contribute to the performing ensemble. And my name just came up, I think. Procol were looking for a guitar player, basically, who wasn't kind of a session guy.
And you'd followed Procol Harum for many years or been a fan of theirs?. I'd heard that.
A major fan. I've got all the stuff from vinyl from the year dot. From the first time around. When Whiter Shade of Pale became obviously the huge hit that it was in summer of 1967, I was doing my school exams for the end of the first phase of high school. They were called GCEs. I mean, I was 15 just going on 16 when Whiter Shade of Pale kind of ruled the world. But obviously I mean that was kind of a freak record 'cause that was a very small part of what Procol Harum's music was about. I didn't know that. I just thought it was a great record. But I certainly got into what they did and obviously realised that Trower was, you know, a fairly serious player, a fairly serious blues guitar player and I mean Rob's playing from say 1967 to 1970 or '71 just developed beyond all recognition and I became, apart from Procol Harum, I became a big Trower fan, before he went out on his own. It was just wonderful from album to album listening to Rob learn to play. If that makes any sense.
You certainly have contributed greatly to the group and they're obviously very, very lucky to have you.
Third .mp3 excerpt : recording with Procol Harum
You always look like you're having such a great time, and so much fun playing with the band, and you're pumped a new energy I think into the guitar work. I especially enjoy the new live album One More Time. I think you're absolutely terrific on that and certainly enjoy listening to that album. What do you like best? Are you happiest on stage or in the studio? What turns you on the most?
With Procol we … I haven't really done much studio work. To be honest. A couple of contributions to the orchestral album.
Right, the Symphonic Long Good Bye.
Yeah. And obviously you know we do have the live album which is one concert from Utrecht which I think, if memory serves, was the day before Valentine's day.
One More Time.
Yeah. And it happened to be a really really good evening; the penultimate concert on a very long European tour.
It's a great sounding live concert. It's a great album.
It was done purely for a kind of outside-broadcast for a Dutch or Belgian radio station. And as you say, it was just a great performance; it was the penultimate gig. The next gig and the last gig of that tour was in Paris the following night on Valentine's day. All our wives were coming out and everybody was kind of, you know, was up for it, and it was just a really good night. Worked very, very well.
Fourth .mp3 excerpt : future Procol recordings?
Any plans for new studio recordings from Procol Harum? When I spoke to Gary Brooker on our first show a couple of months ago, he had suggested that there might be some new studio recordings from Procol. Is there anything happening in that regard?
Well he keeps hinting to us that there might be something in that direction, also. We live in hope.
So do all the fans. I think we're all waiting.
Yeah … I think you really have to understand that obviously there's Gary, and there's Matthew and there's Keith. And the rest of us, whether we're in the band or out of the band – are fans. We're waiting for the next move as well.
I hope so. Because, you've played some wonderful songs, live, that have not appeared on albums. The one that I like especially that has been resurrected is So Far Behind, which sounds terrific. And I know that there are quite a few songs that are sitting in vaults as well and hopefully we'll hear some new material as well. So, your fans are waiting also.
You know, there's some stuff that was recorded for Prodigal Stranger that got half-way to completion. There's that. Also, for example, we're going to Scandinavia and Poland in ten days or so.
Right. You're about to go on another gig, right?
Yeah. It's hardly a tour, but it's three or four concerts just before Christmas, just to keep our hands in, which is really nice. But I mean Gary … and I don't know if he's teasing me or not … I still can't tell after ten years … and we get on great. But he says, "Well I think I'd like to do the whole of In Held 'Twas in I, for Poland.
That would be great.
Well, I know it would be great, but I don't know whether he's joking or not. So I'll learn it, you know. I'll sit down and learn it and then he'll go … "No, I don't really fancy doing that." That's kind of the way it works. You know. I remember the day that I kind of got the official - 'Yes, We'd love you to play with Procol Harum' and Franky handed me a pile of CDs and said, "Here you go, boy, learn these. Learn all of these and you'll be okay with these boys." And yeah…There you are. Most of it – well not most – probably a third of it, I knew anyway having had the vinyl in the first place. And on you go. And you learn to read between the lines with Brooker and Fisher and Reid. 'Cos these are guys who kind of know: they have nothing to prove.