Procol Harum

the Pale

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home

' Cringe with Embarrassment'

Strauss and some fossilised mushrooms

Beverly Peyton has been Gary and Franky's hair-dresser and friend for many, many years. This is her account of another whimsical episode involving the Commander ...

This is a little tale that has given me a lot of laughs throughout my life whenever I think about it. I also hope it will bring some amusement to other fans.

Cringe with Embarrassment

Other than when Procol Harum were on tour, I never did know when they might simply pop into town and true to form one day, Gary called and said,

'I have something I'd like you to hear.'

The Maestro had something for ME to hear? That had never happened before, but when he inquired as to whether I had a tape recorder, I thought I would die. Surely the lack of one would prevent me from one of those chance in a lifetime moments. How could I not have a tape recorder? Being the fan that I was, I should have been prepared for such a moment and had I such an amount financially, would probably have hired a studio just to hear whatever it was that he was about to present to me.

But to my surprise and delight he said, 'not to worry', that he 'would bring one with him.'

'Well!' I thought, 'this must be really important and obviously something he's very proud of.'

Now I was faced with a dilemma ... what to serve? He said he had already eaten and being in full support of my hair salon, Procol Hairum didn't allow me room for much else than working, and touring with them when the opportunity would allow. One of my staff suggested that I prepare stuffed mushrooms.

'Sound good,' I thought and proceeded to follow her instructions. I had no reason to mistrust her judgement here as she was an Italian and aren't they all good cooks? Now, before I go on here, I wish to clarify what you Brits must be thinking about now. In my travels with Procol Harum, I came to learn the word 'stuffed' means something rather naughty in your country. That's not the case here. A stuffed mushroom in the States is a very common appetiser ... but I digress.

Before long, I heard the anticipated knock at the door. Seconds prior, I had sampled one of these sorry-looking mushrooms at which point I thought ...'these taste as bad as they look.'

The first few minutes were spent catching up on how everyone was. I always had to know that, which then led to Gary telling me about the tape he was about to play for me. It appeared he had been commissioned by the Austrian counsel or something to that effect for the re-write of his version of The Blue Danube!

'Oh my God!' I thought and openly expressed, 'What an honor Gary! Out of all the musicians on earth, you have been personally asked to repeat after Strauss?'

This elated me as much as he appeared to be with the result, and the fact that he had indeed been asked. Well, my anticipation grew as we fumbled for an open wall jack which nearly led us back into the hall and away from any furniture. As we took our respective seats on the floor, the music began and as usual, Gary and the band had created a feast for the ears. I asked to hear it over and over.

Somewhere around the third or fourth listen, I apologised for my manners and asked if he would care for something to drink, and bravely offered up some stuffed mushrooms. As I emerged from the kitchen with a tray of what now resembled a cross between a geological museum display and some rather nasty pieces of ... well, you get my drift, I immediately began apologising for my lame attempt at trying to prepare something from scratch and in haste.

I could see the quizzical look on his face as the gentleman in him graciously reached for one of these putrid looking items.

'Isn't this going well,' I pondered. 'So far he's had to sit on the floor and now these?'

With that in mind, he garbled, 'Oh!' and added, 'These are awful!'

Well, I rolled with laughter that night and I roll with laughter each time I remember that evening, but most of all I remember hearing that wonderful arrangement that Gary brought out of his way, just for me to hear; and I am so grateful that I have it to grace my stereo.

More pieces from Beverly

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home