Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Something Magic on Long Island, 10 May 2003

Ray Mealie trades with Mark Brzezicki

Ray Mealie writes to BtP (May 2003)

Photo of the original poster from 1967, autographed by Gary, Matthew, Geoff, Matt and Mark at the IMAC on May 10, 2003

Being a Procol fan since 1967 and attending many of their shows, this one was special to me. My son Joe is employed at the IMAC as a lighting and sound director. Many thanks to him, Mike and Kathy the owners of IMAC for allowing me to become part of a magical evening.

Through their graciousness I was allowed to go backstage before the show and meet my lifelong heroes. Upon finally meeting Gary Brooker and introducing myself, my befuddled brain didn't seem to operate. You just don't know what to say to a friend you have never met.

I showed him an original poster from the first album and asked him if he would autograph it for me. He seemed a bit amazed that I would have such a thing after all these years. He signed it and asked if I would like Matthew's signature also.

I replied, "that would be wonderful." Matthew Fisher came out from backstage, shook my hand and signed my poster. His reaction to the old keepsake seemed the same as Gary's. Matt and Mark also signed it (see illustration)

I pulled out an envelope, and told Gary that I had brought these things for a laugh. I emptied the contents on a table. Behold, a 45 RPM record of Homburg and Good Captain Clack on the 'B' side, an 8-track of the first album and an 8-track of A Salty Dog. Gary asked if I was going to sell these things. I must have looked astounded when he asked that question. I looked at him and replied, "No way. These are part of my life."

Mark Brzezicki, drummer and collector of old American luxury cars noticed the 8-tracks and asked if he could have one for his '78 Lincoln with a factory-installed 8 track deck. My first reaction was, "No". Then I thought about it and said to him, "You can have it if you let me play your drums." I told him I've been playing for forty years. His reply was "Sure, but not tonight." I understood and said he could have the Salty Dog 8 track.

The drumsticks Mark signed

I figured what the heck, what could be a better home for that antique than in a car owned by the drummer of Procol Harum? He couldn't thank me enough and said that he will always remember that that tape came from an American for an American car. It was meant to be. He did autograph two drumsticks for me (illustrated), that my son Joe supplied me with. We talked for a while about cars and his collection. He's a really nice guy as well as Gary, Matthew, Geoff and Matt.

Ray Mealie holding the signed sticks at his vintage 1965 Gretsch kit

Ray gets to grips with The Unquiet Zone

I couldn't find Geoff for my final autograph. They told me he was indisposed at the time. I did manage to catch up with him after the show. I told him he was a great guitar player and he replied with a bow and a thank you. I left the backstage area and said, "Thank you gentlemen, good show." To me it was not a good show, it was a Great Show! A once-in-a-lifetime, magical experience.

The sound and lighting at the IMAC was amazing. Never let the small size of this theater discourage you from attending any shows there. The acoustics are unbelievable. The band performed flawlessly. The little story Gary told during the show about him and BJ seeing the Northern Lights touched my heart. BJ Wilson is sorely missed, but Mark Brzezicki and Procol Harum will carry on and I thank them for it.

Over the years they have given me a song to sing, a thought to ponder and a joke to laugh at.

Thank you Procol Harum.

Thanks, Ray!

Procol Harum concerts in 2003: index page


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