Gary Brooker sits at a white baby-grand in a Danish television studio, playing one verse and one chorus of AWSoP. His right hand plays some of the organ ornamentation from the record; his left reproduces the bass line in full. Applause from the studio audience. The interviewer is the well-known radio and TV producer, Hans-Otto Bisgaard, the man who presented such bands as Led Zeppelin (then still 'The New Yardbirds') and Deep Purple in Denmark before anyone in the UK had any idea of the significance of these two great acts.
GB Thank you very much! Wooh!
H-OB Gary Brooker, Whiter Shade of Pale ... [In Danish] Here comes the man who once upon a time wrote and sang this and many other songs with his band, Procol Harum. [English with Danish subtitles] Welcome, Gary. We could spend a lot of time talking about the old days but we would like to talk about your being in Denmark right now.
In connection with the Royal Danish Ballet.
Yeah, well the reason I could come here today was that I've come here to rehearse a ballet which I got commissioned by the Royal Danish Ballet to write, and I finished it a few months ago: we've been rehearsing it, and it's going out ... it starts at Det Kongelige Teater on the 20th of December.
That's right. It's the first time you've ever done music for a ballet?
Yeah, first time I've written a dance song, I think
Yeah? It's strange to think, because Procol Harum and the other things you've been involved with has always been large orchestrations and big music.
Yeah, I think we've got a reputation as a bit of a kind of classic rock and um a certain amount of majesty in there somewhere although I couldn't really see it, sounded like clever rock to me. But, um, I thought I might have got an offer like that perhaps when we did that Edmonton album with an orchestra, I mean that was in about 1973, I think.
And it took fifteen more years before you were approached? How was the deal set up?
Very poor money! (laughs)
No I mean you were approached ...
... I was approached by the director: he said, um, they've got a New York choreographer called Laura Dean and, er, we'd like you to write the music for this Royal Danish Ballet project, about a twenty-five minute ballet. I said, 'Are you sure you've got the right telephone number? Gary Brooker of ... you know, that one.' 'Yes, yes. We've talked about it, we know who you are.' I said, 'OK, I'll do it.'
Good, good. What's the plot in the ballet, because sometimes there is a story.
Sometimes there is stories in ballet, and this is what I thought as well, and I spent quite a long time thinking up a story, and thinking up some music, but this ballet is more ... Laura Dean's style is ... I think she uses contemporary classical ballet steps, if that's possible (laughs), in a minimalist way, and I think it's more ... it's more an attempt to get a few different thoughts out of the rhythms than perhaps they've been used to doing in the Royal Danish Ballet ... they're very Bournonville classical style, this is going to be a bit different for them. It's a bit wild.
So in fact there was no story for you to write the melody for?
No, I just had to think up ... just like writing a long song, really.
Yeah, had to start from the beginning.
OK. Gary the premiere, the world premiere of that ballet is the 20th December
This year, yes
. so you'll be back for the premiere?
Yes. (Deadpan) I've got to come on the 'bus, because there's not much money available. I'll be here. (see also here)
Ok Gary. And we would like to have from you one more song, from ... I think it's from the Procol Harum Grand Hotel album?
It used to be A Rum Tale, Gary, how is it today?
Well it's still A Rum Tale, if I can remember the chords, because you've put me on the spot now, haven't you?
We'll give you a chance.
Gary plays A Rum Tale, discarding the transposed instrumental break.
[In Danish] Thank you, Gary Brooker who is visiting this country due to the fact that The Royal Theatre is staging a ballet by him a few days before Christmas.
Thanks to Axel Leonhardt and Niels-Erik Mortensen
Other pages concerning the Brooker Ballet