Christmas time is here, and 1997 will soon be history. A year that in many ways has been wonderful for us Procol Harum fans. I know it has been wonderful to me!
I got my Procol Harum website Shine On Brightly up-and-running in March, and a new world opened. My mailbox soon filled with messages from Procol fans all over the world. I used to be lonesome in my love for that wonderful music, and suddenly I could communicate with equals everywhere. The Internet is a great invention!
It was through the Internet I learned about those great Procol Harum fan clubs, still healthy and alive. And I became a 'Whaler' and a member on the Shine On mailing-list. I really appreciate what Michael and Diane and John are doing for us.
Through Shine On came the wonderful news about the 30th anniversary for A Whiter Shade Of Pale and the party in Redhill. I am grateful that I talked my wife into letting me take the trip to England. It was the most exciting days I've ever experienced, and the most wonderful moments of my life. (In case my wife reads this I'd better add 'except getting married and having my two nice children'). The concert was great. And meeting all you fellow Procoholics and most of the band-members was fantastic, a meeting between friends. I really appreciate the communication we have had and still have. Many of you have become close friends to me. The list is too long to give all the names, but many Procol Harum fans and even some of the band members have become my Net-friends.
As time went by, the contributions to the website kept coming in. Lyrics, press clips, even interviews and articles specially written for the website appeared. The Procol Harum fans are a friendly and supportive community. And another helper came along. My Internet provider here in Norway could not give me the services I wanted for the website, and Swedish Connection (you guessed right, it is in Sweden) offered their webserver for the website. And after some waiting I even got the permission to use www.procolharum.com as the domain name. Swedish Connection offered to do the necessary registrations free of charge. Thanks to Henri Lubke and the rest of you at SC!
The task of updating the website was getting bigger, and suddenly I could not make the updates as fast as new material came in. Along came Roland Clare. Roland is a long-time friend on the Net, and had always been an eager contributor to my website. Together we planned the move to the new server and the new URL. We agreed we would also need a name change, to avoid confusion with our friends in Shine On. And on October 8th 'Beyond the Pale' was launched. So now the website is an international co-operation: myself in Kristiansand, Norway; Roland in Bristol, UK; and Henri and Swedish Connection in Sweden ... and contributors from every part of the world.
Another great thing to happen in 1997 was re-issues. Last summer the rumours were on the grapevine about re-issues of Procol's first albums, complete with bonus tracks. And then somebody was talking of an Anniversary boxed set. During the autumn they all hit the stores. Suddenly out of print CDs came available, and the sound was better than before. And interesting new songs and alternate versions filled the speakers in our houses.
I could go on, and talk about Gary's touring, activity by other band members and more. but I'd better stop. This has been a very long Christmas greeting already.
So best wishes to you all. Have a wonderful Christmas and may 1998 be another wonderful Procol year! Maybe we can have more re-issues: where is Broken Barricades? And more unreleased tracks, how about Last Train To Niagara? Maybe we can finally have a Procol Harum Biography (what do you think Ron Smith?) And maybe we can meet again for a new Procol Harum reunion. That would be the top of my wish list!