The most famous Procol Harum fan (and the only one to cross the footlights and perform with the band!) was Douglas Adams, the great British comic writer, technophile and conservationist. 'Beyond the Pale' wholeheartedly recommends Palers to buy MJ Simpson's fine, occasionally controversial, biography of Douglas (not just because we get name-checked!). Click directly on these links to have your copies delivered from Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany or Amazon USA
‘Hitchhiker, a biography of Douglas Adams’ by MJ Simpson, Hodder and
Stoughton © 2003, pp 69-70
Douglas' [yes, the editor has opted for this irregular form of the possessive throughout the volume] two great influences were the Pythons and the Beatles. He befriended the former, could he do the same with the latter? We have already seen how he met one Beatle through Graham Chapman in 1975. A decade later, he met another. 'A couple of years ago, I did a job for Paul McCartney,' said Douglas in 1987. 'I was trying very hard not to be utterly awestruck in meeting this guy who helped form the way I thought in the '60s when I was growing up. It didn't really work out, but he said an interesting thing. He did that song with Stevie Wonder called Ebony and Ivory, and he was saying that for a long time he'd wanted to do something with him but felt very nervous about asking him: "I can't just ring up Stevie Wonder." And his wife, Linda, said, "It's all right, you can actually ring up Stevie Wonder, you are actually Paul McCartney."' It was Linda McCartney who, having met Douglas, encouraged him to telephone Paul. The mysterious job referred to was in fact a suggestion that Douglas, Terry Jones and John Lloyd could together write the script for McCartney's short animated film Rupert and the Frog Chorus. Two of Douglas' friends, Robbie McIntosh and Paul 'Wix' Wickens, both played in McCartney's band and Douglas can be spotted in the audience in the video of McCartney performing at the Cavern Club in 1999 (Douglas took a couple of photos of the event and posted them on his website). However, to Douglas' disappointment, McCartney never became part of his social circle the way that other musical heroes like David Gilmour and Gary Brooker - and, indeed, George Martin - did. He never attended one of Douglas' parties, though Douglas went to one of McCartney's.
Curiously, despite being equally enamoured of Python and the Beatles, Douglas did not enjoy Eric Idle's spoof The Rutles. 'He thought it was a bit mean-spirited, a little bit unkind,' recalls Beatles expert Mark Lewisohn. 'I think that maybe tapped into his unease with Eric Idle's comedy. He liked Neil Innes' music though.'
Douglas' favourite Beatles song was Hey Jude, though he considered that 'too obvious' for Desert Island Discs and picked Drive My Car instead, and he made a point of listening to at least one Beatles album at least once a week. Against all expectations though, his favourite record wasn't by the Beatles: 'For my money the greatest album ever made by anybody under any circumstances is Plastic Ono Band.'
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