Procol Harum

the Pale

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Geoff Whitehorn

davelee surveys his pre-Procol recording career

Back in the midst of time, there was a band called Free. After they split, their young, gifted but troubled guitarist Paul Kossoff formed a band called Back Street Crawler, who made two pretty good albums, Back Street Crawler, and 2nd Street. Also in the band was noted keyboard player and songwriter John "Rabbit" Bundrick, who had joined Free for their final album, Heartbreaker. Vocalist was Terry Wilson Slesser, bass was Terry Wilson (!), and Tony Braunagel was on drums.

After Kossoff's tragic death, Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ertegun suggested the band continue with another well-known guitarist, ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor ... or they'd be dropped. Despite being broke, they declined, instead recruiting Geoff Whitehorn, previously with the band "If" and with Maggie Bell.

Wilson said of Geoff, "We hadn't seen anybody that really knocked us out or that we could get along with personally till Geoff came along. The guy's done more tours of the States than I had. He hadn't toured England until he joined Crawler! He came to the audition wearing these old blue jeans and every part was covered in patches. He's probably one of the most together professional musicians that I've ever worked with, and he's so creative."

The band abbreviated their name to Crawler, and the eponymous first album, Crawler, was released in 1977 on Epic (S EPC 82083). Despite being well-written, superbly recorded, and receiving good reviews (****1/2 review in Sounds, 16 July 1977), it struggled in the year of disco, punk rock and new wave. The band toured with Boxer and Moon in a successful three-band package tour. Their distinctive live sound was dominated by Whitehorn's guitar and Rabbit's swirling keyboards. Geoff is reported to have worn "blue flashes in his long, unruly hair". He contributed only one song to the album, One Too Many Lovers.

They then released Snake Rattle and Roll, a slightly more commercial album, that received a lot of airplay, but limited sales. They continued to tour extensively, but eventually split c1979. Geoff's contributions to the second album were poignant, How Will You Break My Heart and Where Is The Money?; broken hearts and money, or lack of it, were themes in many of Crawler's songs, which were mostly written by Rabbit (the rest by Terry Wilson).

These two studio Crawler albums contain arguably Geoff's finest recorded moments, and they are a must for any Geoff Whitehorn fan. Interestingly, the two albums make up 76 minutes of music, which would fit nicely on a single CD if anyone was doing a re-release ... just a thought.

Recently released (1997) is Pastime Dreamer on the Red Steel label, a 72 minute live album from the late 1970s. Available from Terrapin Records who "commissioned" the album's release. Geoff Whitehorn also appears on Rabbit's solo albums, Same old Story, Run For Cover and Tour Guide, none of which I've heard, but, if they feature Geoff and Rabbit, are no doubt worth investigating.

Thanks, davelee

Geoff Whitehorn's page at 'BtP' Pictures of Geoff with Crawler Procolers' session-work

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