Procol Harum

the Pale

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Frank Mead, Procol Harum's saxophone-player

8 January 1953

Photo of Frank by Matt Pegg

Left-hand photo by Matt Pegg; right-hand photo of a younger Mead, spotted at the Thames Delta Exhibition. Same bloke ... wonder if it's the same sax?

Frank Mead, superb and convulsive sax / flute / harmonica / bones player, has often been seen on stage in Gary Brooker's company : he's a long-standing contributor to No Stiletto Shoes and to Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, in both of which ensembles he has of course played A Whiter Shade of Pale along with other occasional PH / Brooker pieces.

On Saturday 6 May 2000, however, UK audiences had the chance to see The Rhythm Kings guesting on Jools Holland's Later on BBC2, during which Gary played a mesmerising AWSoP at the piano, featuring very light backing from Jools on Hammond, and a fabulous soprano sax solo from Frank Mead, and so it was that Frank came on stage at Guildford, 17 September 2000, to play it again, in the context of the highly-extended four-verse Pale that we heard at that time. He later returned to play alto with the band for New Lamps for Old. Five years on, his name appeared among the players in the Gary Brooker Ensemble for the gig in Guildford Cathedral. When Gary Brooker assembled his musical guests to perform 'The Lost Songs of Brooker and Reid', Frank was the reedsman again.

These admirable incursions alone, however, would not qualify us to list Frank among the personnel of Procol Harum; the fact is that his name was also to be found on the signed t-shirt that was offered as the raffle prize at the Beyond the Pale Convention on 16 September.

BtP asked him, at the following weekend's No Shoes Gig, if he were in fact now 'a member of Procol Harum'.

'I was very happy to be one last weekend,' he replied.

Incidentally ... we hear that in November 2002 the Frank Mead Band, playing and recording in Germany, is closing the show with A Whiter Shade of Pale ...

More Procol personnel

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