Procol Harum

the Pale 

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home

Chris Cooke

The Survivor Tells his Tale

It's been a while since the last update at 'Beyond the Pale' about the state of health of Chris Cooke, following his very serious stroke in Autumn 2018.

Posts on this page are Most Recent at the Top ... the original news is at the bottom.

Gary Brooker and Chris Cooke meet for a pub lunch in October 2019.

Gary tells BtP he was very happy to find Chris in good spirits, standing with the aid of a single stick. 'He's got a lot of strength, and he needs it, given his plans!' says Gary.

One of these plans is to be able to ride a bicycle ... and we wish Chris every success in realising this ambition.

Photos thanks to Franky Brooker

Chris's wife Eliza wrote, in March: ‘It turns out Chris had two strokes, never one to do things by halves ...’.  In Chris’s own words, in a recent phone call, 'I was pretty much a vegetable for the first few months' … and it’s clear that, though there may be a long, long way to go, he has equally come a long, long way already.

Having recovered movement to his left side, he has been relying on a Zimmer frame, but using a Rollator for trips out, and is currently making big improvements walking with a stick. The walking progress has been hindered a tad by arthritis in his left knee, but it continues to be positive. BtP learnt that he has recently been out for a pub lunch with friends, getting in and out of a car.

Because the right side of his face is not moving, his jaw won’t open far (and his right eye won’t return to ‘eyeball central’) but he recovered speech quite early. This was, in Eliza’s words, ‘a relief, since the point-to-a-letter card was like playing Scrabble with no tiles and, as Chris’s spelling has always been eccentric, it was hard work’.

She points out that the jaw issue ‘hinders his speech a little – he sounds like he is doing a bad ventriloquist imitation – but once you get tuned in, it’s fine.’ Certainly BtP recently found no difficulty in a recent telephone conversation with Chris, over some twenty minutes: he seemed much his usual self, positive, amusing, and with all critical faculties firmly intact.

A few days back we received this e-mail from Chris, which gives a stirring and heartening account of his current state of mind:

‘Sometimes you come to a crossroads in life and you realise if you look in one direction you can see that I used to be a rambler, used to be a bird watcher, used to be involved in music, used to be a biker: but if you look in the other direction you see that looking forward you are now a survivor …and what that brings is yet to be discovered and enjoyed.’ 

Picture of Chris taken on 12 July 2019.

He adds, 'Walking on a floating pontoon was not easy, as it tends to bounce; also, while I look pregnant, I am actually wearing an ECG monitor under my tee-shirt.'


'Beyond the Pale' is very sorry to bring sad news about Procol Harum's stalwart manager, Chris Cooke: these are the words of Eliza Richardson, his wife.


Whilst we were on holiday, Chris has had a stroke. After returning to the UK he remains in hospital, in intensive care, on ventilation. Currently he cannot speak or move his left arm or leg.

He has had blood and lung infections, which have only just begun to respond to a lengthy course of antibiotics.

This has come as a terrible shock and surprise. Recovery is going to be a long, tough process and the outcome at this stage is very uncertain.

Readers will appreciate that Chris's e-mail address is not operational at present.

For the moment, please use for any Procol management business.

Rather than contacting Eliza for the time being please use, and 'Beyond the Pale' will forward messages when appropriate. 

Many thanks to everyone for your understanding and kind cooperation.

Chris died in June 2021

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home