Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Gothic Harris, 19542004

Allen Edelist's tribute

Gothic's memorial service will take place on Sunday 15 February at 1:00pm at JT Oswald Mortuary, 1020 Camarillo St., No. Hollywood, (818) 769-0021. It's going to be 'kind of unstructured. Harris would not have wanted anything formal. People will be free to speak about him, or whatever.' Note that Gothic's given name was William Nathanial Lessin II


Allen sends BtP this tribute to our friend Gothic Harris, who died in LA on 10 February. Photos of Gothic, playing Procol music onstage at BB King's Blues Club, by Jill McMahon.

I met Gothic a few years ago at Jeremy Gilien's studio as they were the first of the LA Palers, along with DJ Number 6, to get to know each other outside of The Beanstalk.

I realised early on what a gifted musician he was as I heard and on a few occasions watched him play. He could play any instrument and did so with flair and emotion.

He was around a few times when Jeremy kindly took me into his studio to record for the Palers' Projects and was always a delight to converse with.

I recall our dire straits in the summer, when the slow motor of the Palers' Band Leslie wasn't working: Gothic and Jeremy went out of their way to bring JG's Leslie to BB King's as we feared that should Procol themselves appear at out party Matthew Fisher wouldn't have a proper setup.

For technical reasons, incompatibility disallowed its use. But as I listen to the Monday evening version of One Eye On the Future, One Eye On The Past, I can't help but recall that, when Gothic was asked to play the Hammond portion, he heard a version once and sat down and recreated it almost perfectly. He would tell me that he had it covered prior to our performance. And he did so, brilliantly.

As late as a little over a week ago I saw Gothic for the last time. If you looked at him, he appeared older than his 49 years. Jeremy had just played a cut they had recorded with their band, Village. And that night, again Jeremy would talk often of Gothic's musical talents, from playing to singing.

Just prior to leaving the studio that evening to collect my younger daughter from a classmate's party, my wife and older daughter had spent about a half hour at the studio. During a brief discussion, Gothic said that the LA Palers' experience was one he hoped to relive.

One this occasion, like many others when Jeremy and I would talk about Procol, Gothic would say something like, "I know that song." Jeremy would sing a few bars or play it on a keyboard and then Gothic would say, "Oh, yeah." And play it with proper structure and verve on piano or Hammond.

That evening, prior to saying our goodbyes, I mentioned In Held. Gothic went to the piano and played it, as I recall, through Grand Finale. Again I was amazed how he just recalled the entirety of the song.

As we left, we shook hands and hoped for a Village show and another Palerfest.

While Gothic never appeared to be in the best of health, his kindness, generosity, and musicianship will be missed. He was truly the musician's musician. And I was always amused that here was a guy named Gothic who played Procol.

It is 4:35 am. I have awoken from a deep sleep over an hour ago. My first thought was to write this tribute to an acquaintance I admired. I wish everyone who reads this could have felt Gothic's presence and grasped a piece of his soul like I did.

As my emotions are frail now and I wipe the tears away, I will forever remain touched by my Fellow Traveller.

Be in peace, my friend!

The Palers' Band

 Gothic performing with Village in LA

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