Procol Harum

the Pale

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Matthew Fisher with Lord Sutch

To Procol from the Roman Empire

The following article comes from The Man Who Was Screaming Lord Sutch by Graham Sharpe, published 2005: thanks, John Greenway. Order it direct from Amazon by clicking these links: Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Amazon Canada.

"Screaming Lord Sutch had played at a benefit concert for the widow of Johnny Kidd. Taking to the stage in a chariot, and clad in toga and laurel wreath, Sutch now billed himself as Caesar Sutch and his Roman Empire Ritchie Blackmore, Carlo Little, Tony Dangerfield and Matthew Fisher were his cohorts. The new incarnation lasted until April 1967 when all but Fisher announced their departure...".

In April 1970, he [Sutch] appeared at the Country Club in Hampstead. Caroline Boucher covered the show for Disc "...His Lordship took the stage just after nine. The entrance lobby was lined with Hell's Angels and piled with recording equipment. The band was Brian Keith of Plastic Penny on trombone, Sid Berry (ex Cliff Bennett) on sax, Spencer Davis on guitar, Ritchie Blackmore and Nick Simper, with Matthew Fisher on organ and Carlo Little on drums. Periodic accompaniment was provided by Keith Moon...".

[Matthew Fisher] played in the Roman Empire from Dec 1966 to April 1967. Recorded Whiter Shade of Pale with Procol Harum (that's Fisher playing the evocative opening bars not Gary Brooker) but stayed in the Empire (for financial security!) until that single took off: 'We parted on amicable terms. I'd always planned to move on to get a Hammond organ and some well paid work.'

Nicknamed 'Ethel' by Carlo, who used to have a go at Fisher for playing classical music when warming up for gigs. Says Sutch 'caused an awful lot
of things to happen and gave an awful lot of people a start'.

In the 1990s, Sutch contributed a number of lots to Phillip's Rock and Pop Memorabilia including Lot 447: "Packard pump Harmonium organ with carved wooden case, foot pedals and stops. In full working order. Used onstage by Sutch and Procol Harum in recording and stage work. One detects, perhaps, a Matthew Fisher connection here as that early luminary of The Savages went on to join the chart-topping Procol. However, the 200 to 400 price tag deterred would-be buyers".

Matthew Fisher's page at BtP

A similar story about 'Ethel' on Hammond


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