Here is the text of Gary's Christmas message to his admirers and fans who haunt the pages of 'Beyond the Pale': please indulge yourself and click on all the links below, for a year's retrospective tour of all the wonders alluded to in the message. You may see a scan of Gary's signed FAX to BtP (typed, we understand, by Franky) by clicking here.
As we approach the beginning of a new Millennium and prepare to celebrate Christmas with friends and family, I'd like to personally thank everybody for their support of myself, Procol Harum, and the 'music' throughout the last few decades.
It's been such a privilege to have been able to have enjoyed playing music for myself, fellow lollards, and y'all. All songs have had to pass a personal test, and then have been 'passed' as 'fit and suitable' for you to listen to. Granted, the system lets a few odd ones through, but by and large, knowing them all and hearing them played by others, there wasn't too much thrown away.
Procol Harum has been very lucky to have had some incredible musicians making contributions over the years, and in that list I would include everybody from Christianne Legrand to BJ Wilson. They have all played their parts, but like actors in a play, have brought their own unique talents on board. Thanks to all of them.
When Procol released The Prodigal Stranger and went on the road, it was a humbling experience to meet and hear from so many fans that had waited so long. It made us realize that the band wasn't just part of our lives, but others' as well.
(I've just read the previous few paragraphs to Franky, and although she looks like a Xmas tree as she's got foil tied in her hair doing 'highlights' Beverly, my greatest fan and critic agreed they read like the Queen's Speech!) [annual Yuletide TV broadcast by UK monarch to 'subjects']
Well, nothing changes there! I've always taken the written word rather seriously and the music that sometimes goes with it. Yet anybody who knows me personally will know that I'm the opposite of that most of the time – ask Bill Wyman!
In thinking of Bill Wyman, I've had some great tours this year with him and the Rhythm Kings, fantastic players and great company, my two self-penned songs with them on tour, Lead me to the Water (the band, Beverley and Janice giving the 'true' reading) and A Whiter Shade of Pale with Frank Mead on soprano sax being just magic moments for me amongst a vast experience.
Playing A Salty Dog with orchestra and band in Australia was so exciting every night. Franky and I loved it there – just figuring out how to get back again and see Chris and Vicky who hosted such a wonderful welcome for us and Procol fans, and all the great people we got to know. Thanks to all those 'down under'.
The highlight of the year (although it was to me just another
fantastic moment) was preparing to play in Guildford with Procol and the
orchestra. September in the open air is not something I'd get
into again but 'Kali' was
smiling at grinning at
the band for the umpteenth time and with only a few hours'
rehearsal and one quick run-thru with the 'Monty' [ie with 'the full Monty' … the
full works]. Bravado won through and it was a fantastic
night for the band, especially Mat Pegg,
Geoff and Mick.
Certainly a heart full of inspiration from the meeting at the Civic
Hall on the eve.
At the end of the year/century/Millennium I feel there's lots more to come – it's exciting! – Live gigs, new studio releases, and more gems from the archives – I look forward to it all.
A very merry Xmas and Happy and Successful New Millennium to everybody, with special thanks to Jens, Roland, Diane, John and Christine for their special efforts.
God Bless you all
PS thanks to all that bought the AWSoP CD for BJ's fund.
Other Christmas greetings from Gary Brooker to BtP: 1997, 1998, 1999