Rolling Stone, May 8, 1975
Rick Wakeman and Procol Harum aren't talking these days. Procol was set to appear with headliner Wakeman and Gentle Giant recently in Cincinnati. The Procol members made it but their equipment truck didn't, breaking down somewhere in West Virginia. Gentle Giant came to the rescue – seemingly – when they agreed to let Procol use their instruments. But then, just before show time, Wakeman vetoed the loan.
'Wakeman's people thought that Procol playing with Gentle Giant's instruments would somehow hamper the show, mess up the vibes,' said promoter Cal Levy. Levy said a 'pretty ridiculous scene' ensued backstage as the Procol members and Wakeman's road crew argued. According to a spokesperson for Procol's management firm, lead singer Keith Reid [sic] attempted to take the stage after Gentle Giant's set to explain what was happening – only to be turned back by Wakeman's crew.
Then, according to Levy, the Procol members 'got real pissed, cleaned out the wine and split.' Their non-appearance wasn't announced until Wakeman had performed.
But our story doesn't end here.
Reid and piano-player Gary Brooker drove directly to WEBN radio, where they lambasted Wakeman for his 'egotistical and unreasonable' behavior. Wakeman, riding back to his hotel at the time, had the station tuned in; he became incensed. Upon entering his room, he rang up WEBN and demanded equal time. He, in turn, blasted Procol's 'lies'. Procol Harum returned to Britain shortly afterward and were unavailable for comment; a Wakeman aide refused to talk, imploring, 'It's over with, let's forget it.'
Thanks, Mattias Gidlof
More concerts ... more about Procol and Wakeman sharing a stage
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