Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Gary Brooker

The situation in Cape Town and beyond • May / June / July 2012

Gary Brooker on the telephone

BtP spoke to Gary tonight (5 July 2012), and found him on very good form.

Gary Brooker, 23 May 2012‘I’m a lot better than I was! Taking it easy, on doctor’s orders: got to do what I’m told, can’t mess about,’ he said, and later in the conversation, ‘Just annoyed that I missed a whole month since my birthday. Still, always look on the bright side (good song, that) …’

GB had routine follow-up appointments with his GP and with a specialist yesterday, who confirmed that things were much better than they’d been at his last examination in South Africa. Gary said he was ‘feeling better by the day, really looking forward to Skagen,’ (several forays into an authentically-Danish pronunciation of this placename) ‘and then Atlantic City for the start of the US junket.’ There would be, he said, ‘Plenty of opportunity to rest, between shows, on the ’bus.’

Gary closed by saying that he’d been online and seen all the heartening fan support; and that he’d see us all at the Wuppertal Convention in 2013.

Franky and Gary Brooker write (26 June 2012)

Just thought you might want to have some info on Gary for the fans! Gary and I went to London today to sort out his visa for the US tour. We had to be there at 8am which is so early, we left home at 5.45am. He still get tired easily due to the medication that he must take for a while. He's doing really good and in great spirit: next week he's getting the boys down for a rehearsal in the barn, to test his head. It was a nasty fracture. He was so disappointed that there was no show in SA. I think people don't realise what he went thru, to end up in ICU for a mugging that went wrong. [Gary takes over] Hello RC – GB here as phone rang for Franky Brown. I'm perkier than I felt after my b'day – no fault of mine – and look forward to the weeks ahead. A bientôt. Cmdr Gazza MBE Brf ... and Franky

Reasons to be cheerful, Part II (18 June 2012)

Procol manager Chris Cooke telephoned ‘Beyond the Pale’ on Monday 18 June to update all Gary Brooker's fans, following his return to the UK. As we type, The Commander is enjoying a curry, drinking a glass of wine, and ‘feeling very happy’. As Chris put it, ‘Being at home will be the best medicine of all.’

Following his spell in the South African hospital Gary has lost a little weight, but his wife Franky Brooker ‘will soon make sure he puts that on again’. The two of them went for a walk this afternoon, following Gary's medical check by his own doctors. ‘It's good to be out of the hand of the insurers,’ said Chris, ‘although it must be said that the South African doctors were exemplary.’

It now emerges that Gary didn't just fall, in Cape Town, and the incident is now a matter of investigation by Cape Town police. From the statements of those able to report the night’s events, it has become evident that Gary had his drink spiked in the hotel bar, and the assumption is that the motive was robbery.

The main point that fans will want to focus on, however, is that Gary is home and ‘improving very quickly’, buoyed up by all the messages of support that fans are continuing to send in via Facebook. He’s looking forward now to Procol Harum's rehearsal before the band sets out for the summer's engagements in Denmark and the USA.

Chris Cooke writes (15 June 2012)

'Gary leaving hospital in Cape Town tomorrow and flying back to UK arriving Sunday. In good spirits and well on the mend. Looking forward to a good curry.'

Franky Brooker writes (9 June 2012)

' ...Gary's out of [Intensive Care] and into a ward this morning, all tubes and needles removed from his body. He's in good form and recovering very well. On Monday he will go for another scan and hopefully the doctor will give us a good report. I can't wait to have him out of there and come back home. Roland, I let you use your imagination if you want to let the fans know about Gary. I know lots of them are worried. He is just very sorry Procol never got a chance to play in SA ...'

Reasons to be cheerful (3 June 2012)

Procol Harum manager Chris Cooke telephoned ‘Beyond the Pale’ on Sunday evening, and in the course of a twenty-minute conversation offered many details, about Gary Brooker's progress following his accident in Cape Town, which we feel sure will offer much solace to the many concerned fans around the world.

It seems that Gary is receiving excellent and good-humoured treatment at the Christian Barnard hospital in Cape Town. His condition was stable when he received a scan on Friday, and another scan is scheduled for Tuesday 4 June. The medical team is already sufficiently optimistic to authorise the booking of flights home for Gary – accompanied by his wife Franky Brooker, who has flown out and is staying nearby – from 14 June onwards. All being well Gary will spend a few days convalescing, between his discharge from hospital and his flying home

Press reports that Gary has been kept under sedation are not, it seems, wholly accurate: the truth is that he is still on the intensive care ward so that his condition may be monitored, hourly, to guard against the possibility of infection. As things stand, there is no plan for surgery, and he is in ‘the moderate zone’ as far as the medical team is concerned.

It's not just the medical staff who have been a terrific help. Big Concerts International have been ‘very good indeed’ and Chris particularly mentioned Attie van Wyk and his staff, ‘who have been brilliant’. Regarding Procol Harum’s summer tour, Chris reiterated that ‘ … we don’t anticipate any problems with future commitments.’

It seems that The Commander is already feeling grumpy that he can neither have a glass of wine with his dinner nor smoke his pipe on the ward: ‘a good sign that he is well on the mend,’ says Chris. We do understand, however, that Gary's discharge from hospital is conditional: they won't let him out until he has sung A Whiter Shade of Pale to the nurses and staff.


Chris Cooke writes to BtP (30 May 2012)

'Gary fell in his room this morning and hit his head on the hard floor. He has a small fracture to the lower left side of his head. He also has the usual problems that are associated with such a fall. We are treating this seriously, however on the doctors' scale it is at Serious end of Moderate.

'But be assured he will be OK.

'However he can’t fly home for ten days, which is somewhat inconvenient. So the band are disappointed in missing a show, which is the first time for many years, but we do expect business to be back to normal in time for the next shows.

'Gary is still sedated, but I will see him before lunch tomorrow, and the band will be seeing him in the afternoon, before we return to London.'

Gary Brooker MBE | Procol gigs, 2012 | Press | Gary's own account

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