Procol Harum

the Pale

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... now I hear a different drummer ...

More on Bill Eyden and 'AWSoP'

The following appears in the April 1998 issue of the British music magazine, Mojo:

Welcome to the Pete Best Club

It's fate's cruellest blow. You leave a band; they make it big. Russell Newmark tells the story of four West London drummers who coulda been contenders ...

Following are brief stories on Doug Sandom (played with The Who and was fired when the others discovered he was nearly 30), Mac Poole (offered a job with Led Zeppelin and turned them down [as did BJW - jm] ), Bill Eyden (see below), and Carlo Little (played with The Rolling Stones and left to join Screaming Lord Sutch [one of MF's early bands - jm]) ... coincidences in the music world abound, don't they? 

Here's the Eyden section:

Name: Bill Eyden

Who [sic] did he play with? Procol Harum

What happened? Called in for the Whiter Shade of Pale session, Bill picked up a 15 guinea session-fee, while the group's own drummer Bobby Harrison picked up royalties for a record on which he didn't play.

Where is he now? Bill still plays jazz gigs, and teaches drums at schools in Ealing, West London.

'One day I got a phone call at home from producer Denny Cordell, who I knew from Georgie Fame, asking me if I was available for a session. He sent a demo over, I listened to it, and went over there that same afternoon. I made a quick sketch for the fill-ins etc., then I just played it the way I felt it should be.

'The other drummer [Harrison] was there – I can still see him sitting over in the corner. But I don't think I was even introduced to him. I did a number of sessions in those days; whenever you went in for one, you didn't know what would come out. This time, it all happened so suddenly. The press got onto it and came round. Denny Cordell had put them on to me, telling them the other guy was getting all this money, and I wasn't. They start asking questions, and you start thinking, Crikey, yes, why aren't I getting a rake-off? I felt pretty sick. You can go in for a session where all the music's written out, but if you're called in and you make something of it, that's different. That record definitely has the Bill Eyden feel. The drumming is an integral part.

'When I hear it, now I just think "There's that tune again". It doesn't mean a lot to me, really. If I'd got a bit of a hand-out, I'd be a [sic] more enthusiastic! They never asked me to join or anything. If they'd asked, I might have gone, but that afternoon was the only time I ever saw them.'

Thanks to Joan May for sending this to BtP. There's a sort of endearing inevitability about her post-script ... 'I wonder if Eyden knows that Matthew Fisher probably didn't make any more money than he (Eyden) did from that song (yet), or that BJ Wilson became PH's drummer soon after that session. I wish that Eyden had been the drummer on Prodigal Stranger. I think he did an excellent job on AWSoP – mainly by being tasteful and not interfering with Matthew's magic melody.'

More about Bill Eyden AWSoP page The Drummer's Tale

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