Procol Harum

the Pale

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Gary Brooker, with Douglas Adams

Programme Notes

GARY BROOKER talks to Douglas Adams, Tue 7 Dec 8.30 pm Cinema 1

Gary Brooker, the celebrated co-founder and lead singer of Procol Harum, makes a rare personal appearance in the MPRC's Profile of the Artist series, supported by AXA, in which some of today's most outstanding performers recall their careers, with unique MPRC archive-recordings of their public, 'live' performances. Tonight Gary Brooker talks with the distinguished writer and broadcaster Douglas Adams.

The MPRC's archive-recordings are truly unique treasures of our live performance heritage, dating from the early 1930s to the present. They are not commercially available recordings, having been made solely to preserve the live occasions, which would otherwise be lost to posterity. Through special copyright agreements the MPRC can make them available for the public to listen to, and in some cases see, free of charge at the MPRC Studio in the Barbican Library, where the Corporation of London provides accommodation and staffing.

Although the rights in the MPRC's archive-recordings strictly protect them from commercial distribution, the MPRC is bringing them to the public around the United Kingdom in its National Access and Education Programme, to which its Profile of the Artist series belongs.

All Profile of the Artist events are recorded for the MPRC archive, where they reside alongside the MPRC's many recorded interviews and over 1,800 performances.

The MPRC receives support from the Corporation of London, AXA, the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, and the Musicians' Union. It receives technical assistance from BBC Resources. The MPRC has also received support from the Lottery Fund of the Arts Council, and from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has helped to underwrite its preservation programme.

The MPRC Studio is open to the public, free of charge, in the Barbican library, from 9.30am to 5.30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 9.30 am to 7.30pm on Tuesdays, and from 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays.

Further information is available from The Administrator, Music Performance Research Centre, The Barbican Library, The Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS, telephone/fax 0173089 3561, or from the MPRC website. Owing to the recent withdrawal of some support funding, the future of the MPRC's unique service is under serious threat. Any help or assistance will be deeply appreciated. If you want to help us, or know of any person who may wish to help us please write to the Administrator, The Music Performance Research Centre, Barbican Library, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS (telephone / fax 0173089 3561)

Gary Brooker had already been in a couple of high school bands when he formed The Paramounts in 1962 with his guitarist friend Robin Trower. The band were to gain a lot of respect among the cognoscenti of the burgeoning British Rock and Beat scene which was to give audiences The Beatles, The Animals, Spencer Davis Group, The Rolling Stones, and many others. The Stones, in particular, were great admirers of the Paramounts fans [sic] championed their cause by giving them guest billing on several memorable shows in the early 1960s.

Fame and fortune, however, were destined to elude Brooker until the Paramounts split to reform as Procol Harum in the summer of 1967. Their first single, A Whiter Shade of Pale, was to be a worldwide No 1 hit and the band were to make 10 widely acclaimed albums in as many years. After the Procol Harum split, Brooker continued to record several solo albums, and he also played piano and sang in Eric Clapton's band for two years during the eighties.

1991 saw Procol Harum re-formed and making the original album The Prodigal Stranger. Although the record did not set the charts on fire it did show Brooker singing as well, indeed some say better, than ever before, and it was to relaunch the group's touring activities around the world.

Gary Brooker has been at work producing The Symphonic Music of Procol Harum with dynamic new orchestral arrangements of many of Procol Harum's most famous songs performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra with guest vocalists, including Tom Jones.

In early 1996 Gary Brooker made orchestrations for a one-off concert which he played with the London Symphony Orchestra in the Barbican Hall. The show was a complete sell-out and received prolonged approbation from the audience. An archive recording of the event was made by the Music Performance Research Centre and can be heard free of charge at the MPRC Studio in the Barbican Library.

1997 saw Gary Brooker finishing work on a new album, Within Our House, which continues his innovative style of combining rock and classical music - this time the line-up was the Gary Brooker Ensemble with Choir and String Quartet.

1998 has been a very busy year for Gary Brooker. A European tour with Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band, taking in many countries including Russia, played to packed audiences, and culminated in a London show and an event at Wintershall which raised 150,000 for Charity. A few weeks later Gary Brooker toured Europe with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, a ten piece Rock and Roll / Rhythm and Blues Band which includes Georgie Fame and Peter Frampton.

For the last 25 years Gary Brooker has played an annual charity concert, which in 1998 moved to the Guildford Civic Hall with the title Gary Brooker and Friends. With the Robble McIntosh Band, the 1998 Friends included Mick Abrahams and Beverley Skeete.

Gary Brooker has also been re-mastering tracks recorded made in 1972 by Procol Harum when the band, by then all ex-members of The Paramounts, put down some songs 'for fun' under a pseudonym. The recordings have never been released, and they are now being made available for the first time on a limited edition CD called Liquorice John Death and All Stars [sic].

Douglas Adams ( was born in Cambridge in March 1952, educated at Brentwood School, Essex and St John's, Cambridge where, in 1974, he gained a BA (and later an MA) in English Literature.

He is the creator of all the manifestations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Gataxy, which started life as a BBC Radio 4 series in March 1978. Since then it has been transformed into a series of best selling novels, a TV series, a record album, a computer game and several stage adaptations. It is currently under development as a major motion picture with Disney.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's phenomenal success sent the book straight to Number One in the UK Bestseller List and in 1984 Douglas Adams became the youngest author to be awarded a Golden Pan. He won a further two (a rare feat), and was nominated - though not selected - for the first Best Young British Novelists awards.

He followed this success with The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (198o); Life, The Universe and Everything (1982); So Long and Thanks for all the Fish (1981); and Mostly Harmless (1992).

The first two books in the Hitchhiker's series were adapted into a six part television series, which was an immediate success when first aired in 1982. Other publications include Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987) and Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul (1988). In 1984 Douglas teamed up with John Lloyd and wrote The Meaning of Liff and after a huge success The Deeper Meaning of Liff followed this in 1990. One of Douglas's personal favourites was written in 1990 when he teamed up with zoologist Mark Carwadine and wrote Last Chance to See - an account of the world-wide search for rare and endangered species of animals.

He has sold over 15 million books in the UK, the US and Australia. He is also a best seller in German, Swedish and many other languages.

He currently at work on a new novel.

Douglas is a founder-director Chief Fantasist of the Digital Village, a digital media and Internet company with which he created the 1998 CD-ROM Starship Titanic, a Codie Award winning (1999) and BAFTA - nominated (1998) adventure game.

The Digital Village is currently building an online Guide (www.h2g2.COM) - the Earth edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

And, in the same hall on the same day, a big Joseph Beuys exhibition!

Index page for Gary's 1999 Barbican event

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