Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Palle Bas Christensen

'Walking around in my dreams'

Photo by Gary ShepardWith great regret 'Beyond the Pale' has to announce the unexpected death of Palle Bas Christensen, optometrist, musician and Procol Harum fan from Køge, Denmark, during the night of Wednesday 16 January 2008.

Palle Bas played an important part in the fan-musicians' activities in Southend and London in July 2007. Travel arrangements meant that the Danish Palers couldn't rehearse with the Palers' Band for our full four days in Southend; but when they did arrive, en masse, midway through our preparations, Palle's warm humour, individuality and good nature were immediately apparent.

In run-up correspondence with BtP he had modestly rated himself as an 'amateur ensemble' bassist, but he turned out to be an excellent five-string player with a lot of experience in various kinds of rock music, quite a bit of it heavier than the Procol repertoire – as some of his 'hardcore' accessories testified! 'I don't read music,' he noted, 'but I have very big ears, and have used them for about some thirty years in my musical life.'

He arrived immaculately prepared; having learnt a good deal more than his relatively small allotment of numbers – he was prepared to fill in for others, or just sit out graciously, composing his diary. ' I'm ready to be understudy in about seven of the other songs ... the music is so wonderful so during rehearsal at home I have just played and played them all ... until they are walking around in my dreams.' He also sang in the chorus, and his range of stylish leather hats did a great deal to enhance our visual interest in performance on stage at St John's Smith Square, both with The Palers' Band and with The Palers' Project. Photo by Martin Awsop

Afterwards he wrote, with typical enthusiasm, 'What a journey it has been, discovering much more into the music. Playing together with – or just listening to – all you magnificent musicians, has been a great time, joy, fun and experience, and will remain in my memory for the rest of my life. If I could have one wish for the future – it would be really nice to meet/play with all of you again on another journey.' Sadly this is not to be; yet there is no doubt that we would have welcomed him to play a much larger part in any future Paler excursions.

In our social 'down-time' Palle confided that his life was at something of a turning-point: he was contemplating returning to a free-lance career in optometry. The exigencies of this change put paid a few months later to his tenure in Denmark's Procol Harum Project, where his solid and capable work had been much valued and admired. Nonetheless 2007 was 'my musical dream' for him, and we are proud to have shared some of that dream with him, playing the music he loved.

He mentioned that his diary dealt in part with 'a major project of some personal development, the amazing power that the Procol Harum music has been in my life for the past three months,' and promised that  '... when thoughts, feelings and all other stuff have been researched and stored ... it will be an honour for me to contribute to the website.' His insight would have made a very interesting addition to these pages.

Palle Bas is survived by his girlfriend Nina, to whom we send our sincere condolences, as we do of course also to his family and to Søren, Poul, Benny and Claus, his former band-mates. A memorial service will be held on Thursday 24 January at 1 pm at the church in Herfølge south of Copenhagen. Søren, Poul, and Claus will perform A Whiter Shade of Pale at the after-church refreshments. For those who cannot be there in person ... play a suitable Procol Harum record at suitably high volume and give thanks for our departed friend.


Søren Borello writes:

Thank you to every one of you for remembering Palle on his last journey. Claus, Poul and I were there to join the funeral service. In the church the preacher led off her speech to Palle and to us all by describing how Bach wrote Air on a G String – especially talking about how the bass was played, and of course how Palle should become a bass-player playing this bass. She also talked about Ecclesiastes 3 where it's said that there's a right time for everything: a time to be born, a time to die and so on. A beautiful sermon where she described Palle as this person who lived his life 150% – and in that way he might have burnt his candle at both ends. She ended the sermon with quoting a wise man to have said: Remember you are going to die – in other words remember to live today. The organist ended the service by playing Bach's Air on a G String – it was very beautiful.

At the funeral feast afterwards in Køge Claus, Poul and I (unfortunately Benny was unable to be there) played our expanded version of A Whiter Shade of Pale as we always do with three verses (the one with the mermaid and Neptune) acoustically – Claus on my Ovation, Poul on a few drum-things and me on a grand piano, singing. So wherever Palle was, he must have been shining – and may he shine on forever.

Nina sends her love to you all. She is deeply touched by all your words and thoughts. Thank you to you all.


The Palers' Band

 Procol Harum Project

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