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Paramounts' Progress (2)

Extracted from NME by Yan Friis

This second set of excerpts from New Musical Express, kindly researched for 'Beyond the Pale' by Yan Friis, covers the Paramounts' dwindling press after the first year of their recording career; as their profile wanes Yan interpolates other curiosities of the time, concluding with a brilliant assessment of the musical melting-pot in which A Whiter Shade of Pale was brewed. Additional research by Frans Steensma ([FS])

NME, January 1, 1965

Main reviews by Derek Johnson:
Save It For Me, The Four Seasons

NME Top 3:
1 (1) I Feel Fine, The Beatles
2 (2) Downtown, Petula Clark
3 (4) Walk Tall, Val Doonican

Roy Tempest advert

Big half page ad for
The Roy Tempest Organisation Ltd 13-14 Dean Street, London, W.1 (listing about 50 or 60 clients, including The Paramounts. They are listed among The Pretty Things, Georgie Fame, Twinkle, Dave Berry, Swinging Blue Jeans, The Yardbirds, The Moody Blues, Chris Farlowe and The Gonks) under the headline: Forthcoming Ballroom & Concert Attractions
Galaxy advert 3

But they are still in the weekly ad from Galaxy Entertainments. This ad is expanded on 22 January 1965 with the inclusion of The Nashville Teens, topping the list in big bold type. Remaining bands from this date are: The Nashville Teens, The Gamblers, The Paramounts, The Druids, Gene Vincent, The Outlaws, The Wayfarers

The Galaxy ad is printed for the last time in the March 26 issue of NME.

NME, January 15, 1965

Front page: full page ad for The Rockin' Berries 45 What In The World's Come Over You? (on Piccadilly).

Main reviews by Derek Johnson:
Tired Of Waiting For You, The Kinks
Come See About Me, The Supremes
Dance Dance Dance, The Beach Boys
Everybody Knows, Dave Clark Five
What In The World's Come Over You?, Rockin' Berries
The Special Years, Val Doonican
I Can't Explain, The Who

NME Top 3:
1 (2) Yeh Yeh, Georgie Fame
2 (1) I Feel Fine, The Beatles
3 (9) Go Now, The Moody Blues

From the news pages:
Dates changed for Sandie and Adam: Six changes and two additions have been made to the Sandie Shaw-Adam Faith tour, which now includes the Barron Knights, the Paramounts, the Roulettes and Patrick Kerr.

The tour now visits Ipswich Gaumont (February 23), Southend Odeon (28th), Harrow Granada (March 2), Shrewsbury Granada (9th), Mansfield Granada (13th) and Bradford St George's Hall (14th).

The two additions are Bradford Granada (February 22) and Stockton-on-Tees (March 10).

Interesting to note, by the way, that recent claims by both journalists and people like Bill Wyman that The Beatles' and The Rolling Stones' popularity in Britain was more or less equal during the last half of 1964 and all of 1965 are not correct.

In the NME poll winners, The Beatles scored more than double the amount of votes than those of The Rolling Stones.

The advance orders for the Little Red Rooster single were 300,000, while advance orders for I Feel Fine (issued two weeks later) were around 600,000.

Advance orders for the Rolling Stones No 2 album were 210,000, while advance orders for Beatles For Sale smashed the half million mark weeks before release.

NME, January 29, 1965

Some changes in the Sandie Shaw-Adam Faith-tour. New dates are Norwich Theatre Royal (March 1st) and Tunbridge Wells Essoldo (8th). Two alterations: They will now play Bedford Granada (February 22nd) and Cannock Danilo (28th).

NME, February 26, 1965

Front page: Full page ad for Alan Haven's Image (Fontana) and Victor Brox and Annette Ries' I've Got The World In A Jug (Fontana).

Main reviews by Derek Johnson:
Goodbye My Love, The Searchers
The Last Time, The Rolling Stones
Blue Turns To Grey, The Mighty Avengers

NME Top 3:
1 (1) I'll Never Find Another You, The Seekers
2 (10) It's Not Unusual, Tom Jones
3 (4) Game Of Love, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders

Why Sandie triumphed – and Adam did too, in their package (excerpt from review of the Sandie Shaw/Adam Faith package tour)

Facing an audience for the first time is a shattering experience, but Sandie Shaw soon conquered her jitters during her stage début at Leicester de Montfort Hall on Sunday, when she shared top billing with Adam Faith.

By the third number, she had the audience under control. Backed by the Paramounts, Sandie opened – without shoes of course – with That's Where It Is. She was obviously nervous. But after Girl Don't Come and a folksy Lemon Tree, and the warm applause it brought her, she was full of confidence and enjoying the experience.

Her new release, I'll Stop At Nothing, made a big impact and the applause was tremendous for her last number, Always Something There To Remind Me, and as far as Sandie is concerned, she'll remember her début for a long time to come – and so will her audience....

Yan's comment:
Poor Paramounts! During their tour with Sandie Shaw, Sandie gave two interviews to the NME. Even though she did speak about her concerts, she only did give the guys on the tour one name check – and the ones she mentioned were Barron Knights.

It is also worth noting that Barron Knights, Sandie Shaw and Adam Faith all had new singles out at the time of the tour. But not The Paramounts.


EMI new singles advert NME, April 23, 1965

Front page: photo-captions on The Rolling Stones, Adam Faith discussing something with George Harrison and John Lennon, Cliff Richard, Unit Four Plus Two. 

Plus small CBS ads on Maureen Evans' Never Let Him Go and Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues

Main reviews by Derek Johnson: 
Once Upon A Time, Tom Jones 
I've Been Wrong Before, Cilla Black 
Subterranean Homesick Blues, Bob Dylan 
Poor Man's Son, Rockin' Berries 

also reviewed: 

A Jackie de Shannon – Sharon Sheeley number provides the Paramounts with their best disc to date. Solo voice treatment of Blue Ribbons with a bouncy, mid-twist rhythm and strings. It's toe-tapping and stimulating, with a cute lyric and a gay feel. 

Slowly swaying beaty ballad Cuttin' In features an ear-catching guitar figure and appealing lyric. On Parlophone. 

NME Top 3
1 (1) Ticket To Ride, The Beatles 
2 (2) The Minute You're Gone, Cliff Richard 
3 (3) Here Comes The Night, Them 

The standard one-column EMI ad on the news pages includes The Paramounts' Blue Ribbons, Parlophone R5272 – stuck between The Glenn Miller Orchestra featuring Bobby Hackett's Pennsylvania and The Quiet Five's When The Morning Sun Dries The Dew

The more famous EMI artists are featured in a much larger ad on page 2.


NME, April 30, 1965

Front page: Small pic of Bob Dylan, big ads for The Cheetahs' Baby Goodbye (Philips) and The Rockin' Berries' Poor Man's Son (Piccadilly).

Main reviews by Derek Johnson:
This Little Bird, Marianne Faithfull
Little Bird, Nashville Teens
Tommy, Twinkle
Not Until The Next Time, Jim Reeves
Bumble Bee (EP), The Searchers

NME Top 3:
1 (1) Ticket To Ride, The Beatles
2 (6) King Of The Road, Roger Miller
3 (3) Here Comes The Night, Them

The whole bottom of the NME Top Thirty page is an ad for Paramounts reading:

Blue Ribbons 'on Columbia'

Recorded by The Paramounts on Columbia [sic], published by: Metric Music Ltd.
Bookings: NEMS Enterprises Ltd. Telephone: REGent 3261
You saw The Paramounts on Ready, Steady Goes Live on April 23rd

NME, May 21, 1965

Paramounts ad ('Ballroom attractions')

Front page: Full page ad for The Roy Tempest Organisation Ltd., 13-14 Dean Street, London, W.1, 'Europe's Largest Band Agency'. At last The Paramounts are featured on the front page, although they are placed way down at the bottom among some fifty different acts (under the headline 'Forthcoming ballroom, concert and club attractions include:'), while the main part of the ad features pics of Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders, The Trendsetters, The Banshees, The Woodlanders, The Chants, The Soul Bros and Johnnie Dee.

Main reviews by Derek Johnson:
Set Me Free, The Kinks
I'm Alive, The Hollies
Crying In The Chapel, Elvis Presley
Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, The Who
Help Me Rhonda, The Beach Boys
Strong Love, Spencer Davis Group

NME Top 3:
1 (4) Where Are You Now, Jackie Trent
2 (2) A World Of Our Own, The Seekers
3 (12) Long Live Love, Sandie Shaw

NME, June 18, 1965 [FS]

Under 'New Disc Signings':

Group drummer's solo disc debut. Phil Wainman, 19-year-old ex-drummer with the Paramounts, who frequently back Sandie Shaw, makes his solo disc début next Friday with his self-penned instrumental number Hear Me A Drummer Man (Columbia)'

(Wainman would later make a fortune as producer of all the hits by The Sweet)

NME, October 29, 1965

Front page: Full page ad for The Roy Tempest Organisation Ltd. showing the names and photos of the following 20 clients: The Chants, Mike Sheridan & the Nightriders, Game, The Cherokees, Peter Jay & the Jaywalkers, Sons Of Adam, The Dimplettes, The Ying-Tongs, Two Of Each, The Banshees, Fernando's Hideaways, The Woodlanders, The Sovereigns, The Checkpoints, Tony Colton's Big Boss Band, The Senators, The Links, The Byrd Herd, The Objects and Big Boss Men.

(All very important names in the development of rock and roll. Not.)

Main reviews by Derek Johnson:
Wind Me Up (Let Me Go), Cliff Richard
Where Do You Go, Cher
Turn! Turn! Turn!, The Byrds
My Generation, The Who
Over And Over, Dave Clark Five
Walk Hand In Hand, Gerry & the Pacemakers
Is It Really Over, Jim Reeves
Crawling Back, Roy Orbison
Turquoise, Donovan

Also reviewed:

  • Paramounts
    Main interest in You've Never Had It So Good (Parlophone) is that it was written by the Eve Of Destruction man, PF Sloan. But, although the lyric has an arresting story line, it's far from controversial.

    Performance by the Paramounts is first rate – a lead singer who really feels what he is singing, attractive harmonies, compelling guitar work and an insistent beat.

  • NME Top 3:
    1 (1) Tears, Ken Dodd
    2 (6) Yesterday Man, Chris Andrews
    3 (-) Get Off Of My Cloud, The Rolling Stones

    Letters page. 'From You To Us.' Nicci Rousse of Chelsea, London writes:

    Recently I visited Paris and took the opportunity of seeing the Richard Anthony Show at the Olympia. Although I was disappointed with his performance, which seemed endless, the show was saved by Sandie Shaw.

    I would also like to mention Sandie's backing group, the Paramounts. They were fantastic! These four boys have more talent than any other group I have ever seen or heard. Their talents were being wasted using them as a backing group. Their sound is marvellous and the drummer is something of a genius. I hope we'll hear a lot more of them. [FS]

    NME, November 5, 1965

    Front page: full page ad for Donovan's Turquoise 45 and Fairytale LP (both on Pye).

    Page 3 has a small story on Sandie Shaw:

    Tough On Sandie
    Sandie Shaw started to sing I'll Stop At Nothing. But her throat stopped her. She tried again. No good. She turned to her Paramount backing group and shouted: 'Forget it, forget it.' Then she told the packed Savoy Hotel restaurant room: 'My throat always plays me up on that number'.

    It was a rough opening for her. Her voice just wouldn't obey her. Her first number at this famous, plush entertainment centre, where so many top stars have played, was harsh and discordant. Her second, Always Something There To Remind Me, wasn't any better.

    'Thank goodness the first two numbers are over,' she told her disappointed audience. 'The first two are always the worst.'

    'Now let's start, she said, giving us her million-dollar smile. We all admired her bravery. The Clapping Song was much better. Then the disaster of I'll Stop At Nothing'.

    Barefooted, yet looking stunning with her glossy black hair, her pretty, pinkish dress with bolero top and skirt swinging freely as [some printing error here, as the sentence is not finished] She just wasn't experienced enough for the gigantic ordeal of opening in the Savoy Hotel cabaret. But top marks for trying. (Andy Gray)

    Main reviews by Derek Johnson:
    The River, Ken Dodd
    Tell Me Why, Elvis Presley
    Princess In Rags, Gene Pitney

    NME Top 3:
    1 (3) Get Off Of My Cloud, The Rolling Stones
    2 (2) Yesterday Man, Chris Andrews
    3 (1) Tears, Ken Dodd

    At this stage it is time for some comments.

    The last Paramounts-single did not get any advertising from EMI at all. The company simply lost faith in them. And I guess the group didn't have much faith in themselves either.

    The choice of material for that last single tastes of desperation. The group tried to cash in on the current protest/folk trend. And failed.

    I also question their management. Acting as the backing group for Sandie Shaw may well have given them a certain economic security. But as we have seen from the way the NME treated them, it also transformed them into a faceless unit just there to back a famous pop singer – at least that's how the media saw it.

    In fact the NME did review Sandie Shaw's concerts quite frequently through 1965, but only mentioned Paramounts on two occasions. The reason being, of course, that the NME never regarded the group as a recording entity in itself.

    They may have been a good rhythm & blues band, but there is no trace of that in the NME from 1963 through 1965. They are never mentioned (and did probably not take part) in any of those legendary package tours that criss-crossed across Britain at the time. These tours involved both famous and unknown bands. They all got their names mentioned in the NME from time to time.

    But not the Paramounts.

    Neither do they pop up in the regular TV and radio-columns in the NME. It looks like they never took part in any of those famous radio and TV-programs that made the 60s so exciting in England. And if they did, there is at least never any advance publicity. Much lesser known bands than the Paramounts are mentioned frequently.

    Something was wrong.

    And I guess Brooker took this clumsiness with him into the next stage of his career. I am of course talking about that strange summer of 1967.

    NME, November 26, 1965

    Front page: full page Pye ad for the following artists and their new albums / EPs / singles: The Searchers, The Kinks, The Honeycombs, Pat Boone, The Rockin' Berries, Sounds Orchestral, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Tony Martin, The Sorrows, Dionne Warwick, Marcello Minerbi, Bob Hope.

    Main reviews by Derek Johnson
    Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out, The Beatles
    Take Me For What I'm Worth, The Searchers
    Till The End Of The Day, The Kinks
    Thunderball, Tom Jones
    My Ship Is Coming, Walker Brothers
    Fever, McCoys

    NME Top 3:
    1 (2) 1-2-3, Len Barry
    2 (3) The Carnival Is Over, The Seekers
    3 (4) My Generation, The Who

    On the news pages: New group for Sandie
    The Shandykins Four, a newly-formed group from Stoke-on-Trent, has been chosen as Sandie Shaw's permanent backing group. They have also signed a disc contract with Pye recording manager Tony Hatch.

    The group has decided to change its name to the Streamliners with immediate effect.

    The Paramounts, who have previously accompanied Sandie, are added to the Beatles' one-nighter tour which begins next Friday (3rd).

    (The tour dates are printed in NME, 3 December 1965, in the Who's Where column:
    Beatles, Moody Blues, Beryl Marsden – Newcastle City Hall (4th), Liverpool Empire (5th), Manchester Apollo (7th), Sheffield Gaumont (8th), Birmingham Odeon (9th), Hammersmith Odeon (10th).)

    NME, December 10, 1965

    Front page: full page ad congratulating Dusty Springfield on her success in the NME annual poll.

    Main reviews by Derek Johnson:
    I Stand Accused, The Merseybeats
    A Groovy Kind Of Love, The Mindbenders
    May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose, Little Jimmy Dickens
    England Swings, Roger Miller

    NME Top 3:
    1 (-) Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out, The Beatles
    2 (1) The Carnival Is Over, The Seekers
    3 (2) 1-2-3, Len Barry

    Beatles terrific ... and rest of bill (excerpt from review of concert at Glasgow Odeon)
    ... other highlights were the Moody Blues (their stage act features belters like I'll Go Crazy as well as their slower-paced hits), who gave a performance steeped in professionalism, plus coloured artist Steve Aldo (a marvellous, bluesy voice, occasionally spoiled by over-loud backing from the Paramounts!); the Marionettes; Beryl Marsden, resplendent in a trouser suit and giving out with some terrific rockers, and the Koobas.

    The Koobas are a Liverpool group who look like breaking very big in the near future, if the strength of their impact on this top Beatles bill is anything to go by.

    Finally, full marks to the Paramounts for their musicianship. (Alan Smith)

    Nice words from Alan Smith, but I am afraid they are not worth much, because Smith's style was like that. Always polite, almost never printing anything negative. And giving the Paramounts what looks like just half a sentence at the end of a rather long piece, reveals that they didn't make much of an impression (except playing over-loud, something old man Smith was not particularly fond of...).

    NME, December 24, 1965
    Happy Christmas from NEMS

    Front page: full page ad by NEMS Enterprises Ltd. London wishing us all a Happy Holiday from The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, Billy J Kramer with The Dakotas, The Fourmost, Sounds Incorporated, The Moody Blues, Tommy Quickly, The Remo Four, Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers, The Silkie, The Rustiks, Paddy, Klaus and Gibson, Michael Haslam, The Paramounts and Brian Epstein. Main reviews by Derek Johnson:
    Midnight To Six Man, The Pretty Things
    When It's Sleepy Time Down South, Dakota Station
    Bye Bye Blues, Bert Kaempfert

    NME Top 3:
    1 (1) Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out, The Beatles
    2 (2) The Carnival Is Over, The Seekers
    3 (3) The River, Ken Dodd

    Did the Paramounts get to know the Beatles during that Christmas tour? I don't know. The NME travelled with the show all round Britain, and the Paramounts are not mentioned as being backstage, in the dressing room or anywhere else with the Beatles. But Walker Brothers are, and so is Helen Shapiro.

    I think Brian Epstein got them into NEMS. But why didn't anything happen after that? Why no more records? Especially now, as part of NEMS led by the Beatles' famous manager. That should have been a strong selling point for The Paramounts.

    While I am searching, I amuse myself with some other small finds, such as the following:

    NME reports on January 14 that there will be a new Rolling Stones-EP released on February 12 The lead track will be As Tears Go By. This EP never materialised.

    Stones-manager Andrew Loog Oldham also informs the NME that there will be a new Stones album released on March 10. Title will be Could YOU Walk On The Waters?, a title Decca refuses to accept. Oldham also promises that the album will include a special picture supplement sleeve. Tracks, all recorded in Los Angeles on in December 1965, will probably include:

    19th Nervous Breakdown, Sad Day, Take It Or Leave It, Think, Mother's Little Helper, Going Home, Sitting On The Fence, Don't You Bother Me, Ride On Baby, Looking Tired

    This album never materialised either, although some of it later was included on the Aftermath LP (in April 1966), some on a single and some on the Flowers and Through The Past Darkly compilations. And the special picture supplement sleeve idea was of course used on the Big Hits compilation in 1966. I know this belongs on a Stones web site, but it is fascinating still. NME also reports that Donovan has written a tribute to John Lennon and Paul McCartney called For John And Paul for single release on January 28. Title is changed to Sunshine Superman, but the single doesn't materialise until July 1966 (USA) and November 1966 (UK) due to a dispute between Donovan's management and his record company.

    I love stuff like this. But OK, back to The Paramounts. If we are to believe the interview Keith Reid gave the NME in June 1967, he had already met and given Gary Brooker the envelope containing the A Whiter Shade Of Pale lyrics around November – December 1965. Then they were to meet again six months later, which should be around April-May 1966, when Brooker casually told Reid that he had written a tune to the words.

    I just finished searching February 1966: no mention of them. But I found an interesting Sandie Shaw interview published February 11, 1966:

    (excerpt) ... Sandie's new group are the Streamliners and she would like me to believe that she rules them with a rod of iron.

    'I don't stand for any nonsense,' she said. 'No birds about the dressing rooms, no drinking during performances.

    'One of them came to me the other evening and said he had forgotten his sweater so I said: 'Oh that's fine, isn't it? How would it be if I forgot my dress before a performance?'...'

    I guess this says a lot regarding the working conditions that the Paramounts had to put up with. And maybe why they had to split from Sandie (or she from them). I guess the birds and the drinking was something from the past, something she would not put up with again, something that had occurred when the band in the dressing room was the Paramounts?

    Anyway, her attitude does stink. Doesn't it?

    Black American singer Fontella Bass, famous for the hit Rescue Me, had been in England on tour just prior to this Shaw-interview. NME confronts Sandie with something Fontella had said:

    'When I see people like Miss Shaw who have just made it the easy way treating people around them with contempt it upsets me.'

    Sandie's answer:

    'She said that? The immigrant!'

    Point is, of course, that if an outsider like Fontella Bass could have opinions on how Sandie Shaw treated those around her, then quite a lot of people must have been talking about it at the time.

    Still searching. Just passing the May 13 issue of NMESaw an ad on the last page:
    Play Bach notice

    Royal Albert Hall (Manager CR Hopper)
    Tuesday, 24 May At 8: first appearance in this country
    Jacques Loussier Trio, France's world famous group Play Bach
    Tickets 3/6-21/- at Hall (KEN 8212) and Agents

    Hmm, wonder if Matthew and Gary were there? If we are to trust the June 1967 Keith Reid-interview, it was around this time that Brooker met Reid and told him he had put music to A Whiter Shade Of Pale. Maybe Gary got inspired by the Loussier-concert?

    Just guessing!

    On the news pages in the May 27 issue I found this amusing snippet:

    Geneveve, Sutch to wed
    Nineteen-year-old Geneveve – whose recording of Once is No. 26 in this week's chart – is to marry David (Lord) Sutch. The couple met three weeks ago signing autographs on the NME stand at the Star Gala in Battersea Park. Both singers record for CBS.

    The news was met with amazement from Radio Caroline DJ Rick Dane who claimed on Wednesday that he was unofficially engaged to Geneveve!

    Geneveve's next single Nothing In The World is scheduled for release on July 1

    And a follow-up on the news pages June 3:

    That's show-business!
    Geneveve last week called off her brief engagement to Lord Sutch to concentrate on her singing career.

    Reading the NME through spring and early summer 1966 it is obvious that a big change is going on in the world of pop music. What was once new, young and fresh is old hat. Bands are experimenting. Members are quarrelling. There's a lot going on.

    The result being better and more adventurous music (spring-early summer 1966 classics: Paperback Writer, Paint It, Black, Sunny Afternoon, Eight Miles High). But also a big shake-up. Lots of bands are breaking up. Or members are quitting or being thrown out.

    The Kinks and The Who both almost split this spring. Band Of Angels broke up. The Fortunes change members. So does Manfred Mann, The Moody Blues, The Hollies, The Searchers and The Yardbirds. There's rumours about The Animals breaking up. Paddy, Klaus & Gibson split. Gene Clark quits the Byrds. Cliff Richard's fan club is closing down. And then Cream emerge, the first so called super group.

    But there is still nothing on The Paramounts in the NME.

    Strange. Maybe the involvement with Brian Epstein was some sort of kiss of death. Since that front page ad on Christmas 1965 the big sleep set in.

    There was some writing late winter about NEMS Enterprises cutting a deal with some big agent in the Far East (on the Philippines) making it possible for all the NEMS artists to tour over there. The NME even listed all the lucky names who would tour there during 1966. All the well known ones, including the Beatles. But also the lesser known ones. Except, of course, the Paramounts.

    NME, June 24, 1966:

    Front page: Photo captions on Paul McCartney, John & Gary Walker with Tom Jones, The Rolling Stones. And an ad for David & Jonathan's Lovers Of The World Unite 45 on Columbia.

    Tipped for charts by Derek Johnson:
    This Door Swings Both Ways, Herman's Hermits
    Can I Trust You, The Bachelors
    Silent Street, The Fortunes
    Lovers Of The World Unite, David & Jonathan

    NME Top 3:
    1 (2) Paperback Writer, The Beatles
    2 (1) Strangers In The Night, Frank Sinatra
    3 (3) Monday Monday, Mamas & Papas

    And finally some news on The Paramounts. Yes, they still exist, now being handled by Larry Page. On the last page of the NME we find the following ad:
    Page One advert

    Page One Records Ltd. Agency Division
    71/75 New Oxford Street, W.C.1 TEM 4864
    Sonny & Cher – Troggs – Bob Lind – Tony Rivers And The Castaways – Lee Drummond – The Craig – Don Spencer – Toni Caroll – The Children – The Paramounts
    Please contact Alan Isenberg

    On the news pages September 2, 1966, The first release on the Page One label is announced: The Troggs' I Can't Control Myself. The label also names other artists they just have signed: Colin Fretcher, Georgio, Lee Drummond, Don Spencer and Ken Kirkham, the Dollies, the Children and the Larry Page Orchestra.

    If the Paramounts still were functioning as a group, wouldn't it be probable that they were offered a recording contract as well, being connected to the Page One Agency and definitely finished with their Parlophone contract?

    No more on The Paramounts in the NME. And that concludes 1966; my guess is that the Paramounts broke up some time in July/August 1966.

    Yan's last words on The Paramounts:

    1966 – the end of the beginning
    So how did A Whiter Shade Of Pale transform from some lines on paper to the magical piece of music that we know?

    I think we can trace its origin through the clues left by Keith Reid in the NME interview in June 1967 (printed in the July 1 issue).

    He wrote most of the words late autumn 1965, at a time when Bob Dylan had developed into something from another world. I think Highway 61 Revisited was playing loud inside Reid's head.

    In November 1965 he gave Gary Brooker the lyrics. Gary probably didn't do much more than read them just then. He must have been preoccupied with the promises and possibilities of having signed The Paramounts over to NEMS Enterprises' agency, resulting in the group taking part in what was to be the Beatles' last British tour – in December 1965.

    Maybe The Paramounts' luck was changing?

    Not so, of course.

    Those first months of 1966 didn't even give them a chance to release another record. And by June they had moved on to Larry Page's Page One Agency. Not exactly getting top priority. The Troggs were happening.

    According to Keith Reid he met Gary Brooker about six months after he gave him the lyrics to A Whiter Shade Of Pale. My guess is that this brief meeting took place in late May or early June 1966. Brooker told Reid that he had written some music to his words.

    Now what kind of music would that be?

    Checking what was happening in England that May, there can be no doubt about what had influenced Brooker.

    Percy Sledge's When A Man Loves A Woman entered the British charts on May 12th, 1966 and became a very big hit. The song's melody-line and soulful vocal delivery was not that far from what Procol Harum would put into A Whiter Shade Of Pale a year later.

    On May 24th 1966 the Jacques Loussier Trio gave their first British concert at The Royal Albert Hall, playing Bach.

    May was also that famous month when Bob Dylan & The Hawks toured Britain and gave what might have been the strongest performances ever in rock'n'roll history (in Manchester and The Royal Albert Hall, to name but two famous dates). Blonde On Blonde was not released yet, but a teaser from the album, One Of Us Must Know (with its crescendoing mix of organ and piano and cymbals and that voice), had already been out on single for some time.

    If we put these three pieces together – the soulful moaning of Percy Sledge, the popularization of Bach and the amphetamine rock and surrealistic poetry of Dylan, we are very close to the sound that was to become A Whiter Shade Of Pale. And I think these ideas had started to cook in Gary Brooker's head when he met Reid briefly, and claimed that he had written music to the words. I'm sure he hadn't finished the piece.

    But I guess it started growing. All the more since The Paramounts obviously had reached a dead end.

    So my theory is: A Whiter Shade Of Pale was directly influenced by

    The R&B scene had completely changed. The Pretty Things released a single written by Ray Davies (of the Kinks), played with brass and were soon to write a rock opera. The Animals had broken up, and Eric Burdon went to San Francisco to waste himself on LSD. The Rolling Stones were on their way into psychedelia.

    In fact there was no need for British R&B mid-sixties style since the American originals now both were touring Britain and doing very well in the charts, be it Otis Redding, James Brown or all the Motown stars.

    And the Beatles had taken off with Revolver, and the Beach Boys with Pet Sounds.

    It was time for something new and different. And as the Paramounts folded, Gary Brooker was ripe and ready. When they met again in October-November 1966, Keith Reid had been ready for more than a year.

    I rest my case. Thanks, Yan!


    Paramounts Progress Part 1 Paramounts index Yan has also extracted copious Procol Harum journalism from NME

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