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

Ten Years of 'Whaling Stories'

Michael Ackermann

In October 2002 'Beyond the Pale' celebrated its fifth birthday; but a month later 'Whaling Stories', the official Gary Brooker Fan-Club, turns ten years old. On this page its founder writes to the patrons of this website. We also have pictures of the foundation party, early portraits of Procol Harum, and ... coming soon, shots of the celebrities who have become honorary members of 'Whaling Stories'.

Dear Palers!

On 7 November 2002 'Whaling Stories', the official Gary Brooker Fan Club, celebrates its tenth anniversary. I was always very proud when Franky introduced me to many people with the words that '... it all started again with 'Whaling Stories'!

The late eighties and early nineties were very active and amazing years concerning Gary's activities. In July 1988 there was the first of the great 'Wintershall' concerts. Gary toured with No Stiletto Shoes. Already July 1989 saw the next Wintershall event with the fantastic 'Band du Lac'. In 1990 Gary started round Germany with something called 'Rock meets Classic'. There were Procol tours in 1992 and 1993, not to forget the wonderful Christmas Charity gigs in Chiddingfold. That's not all: we saw Gary with 'Night of the Proms' (October 1993 in Holland) and he hit the road with Bill Wyman as 'Willie and the Poor Boys'.

Peter Seeger started his Sixties music magazine in Germany, Good Times: there was finally an article from Dr Paul Thelen, who wrote about his journey to Edmonton to celebrate the Twentieth Anniversary of Procol's concert with the local orchestra.

So I asked Gary what he would think about establishing a Fan-Club. Gary liked the idea and promised to give me any help I needed. He never broke that promise! By choosing the name 'Whaling Stories' I combined my love for the Whales with the music of Gary.

See in this connection our hero, honorary member Captain Paul Watson from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Gary very soon named the members of this club 'The Whalers'.

When we started to grow with the number of people, Gary invited the club to stay at his barn for the days around the Chiddingfold Christmas gigs in December 1992. Of course later in the increasing number that was no longer possible!

Beside the unique experience we had with the music of Gary and his bands, the most splendid things were the friendships that grew over all borders, and are still active. It was unbelievable to me, that with all the people you met, there was a thing in common, and it was as if you knew each other for many, many years, at least from 1967 ...

I wouldn't like to miss a single friendship I was able to get throughout this Club work.

Times change, we all know that. In September 1996 a great guy named Roland joined the Whalers. I met him first on 12 August of the same year. I have still got one of his first letters, saying:

'I imagine that lots of Procol fans are musicians. I like the idea of a fan-club convention when people get up and play through the song-book, I would happily take on piano or bass - but I don't sing well ...'

Michael sings 'Barnyard Story' with The Palers' Band on their third outing, at Manchester

Everyone knows how the story went on: it ended up in the Palers' Band, and I was very happy when I had the chance to sing Barnyard Story with that great band in June 2002 at the Fan convention in Manchester - just six years after receiving Roland's letter.

End of July 1996 there was a letter from Norway in my post-box. It was posted on 20 July 1996 in Kristiansand: the stamp showed a little beaver. Another nice guy joined the Whalers: his name was Jens Anders Ravnaas. All you Palers know how the story went on: on 19 July 1997, nearly five years after the foundation of 'Whaling Stories', Jens and Roland met at Redhill on the 30th anniversary of A Whiter Shade of Pale and the idea of 'Beyond the Pale' was born. Since their existence, the new media of internet put together nearly all the people who are possessed with Gary's music: all the people who were guided through their lives with the help of that sound. They are all one big family now.

I would like to close with the hope that we will have as many good things to come in the next ten years of 'Whaling Stories' as we had in the last. It seems that we are on a good way: a new CD in 2003. Already the announcement of some concerts to promote the album. What more can we want?

Best regards to all the Palers and Whalers! Roland and Jens, keep up the good work!

Sail on, Whale on, Shine on!


More about Whaling Stories


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