Procol Harum

the Pale

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Gary Brooker: artist in profile

John Tolanski introduces Brooker and Douglas Adams

Introduction, from The Barbican Centre, London: 7 December, 1999

[tape cuts in] ... to introduce this event because it goes back to 1996 when Gary Brooker gave a concert with Procol Harum and the London Symphony Orchestra here at the Barbican centre. That concert was recorded. You canít buy it. You canít go and pay for it and hear it anywhere other than one place. I donít know whether you know that that concert was recorded. An archive recording was made by the Music Performance Research Centre. The reason Iím talking to you is until Christmas of this year Iím still running this side of the MPRCís affairs.

Now those of you who know the Barbican Library know that if itís a place you do know, itíll take you about a half minute to get there. If you donít know, itíll take you about half a day from here. Itís actually in the centre just round the corner. And that concert that Gary Brooker and Procol Harum and the LSO gave in, I think, February 1996 is in the Barbican Library. You can go and hear it and hear the whole concert. And so because MPRC is a charity and is an archive, a unique archive of concerts, operas, all kinds of music that has been performed in this country for the last sixty years, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity if we could invite Gary Brooker to come and talk about his life and hear a little bit of that concert in this eveningís event. And I was delighted when I was informed about eighteen months ago that he had agreed to do this.

So Gary is here really as a very charitable person tonight. And with him, weíre very, very delighted indeed, is his very old friend, Douglas Adams, the writer, novelist, and broadcaster who rose to world fame about twenty years ago with A Hitchhikerís Galaxy [sic] and many, many, many other things which I unfortunately canít tell you about now.

[Buy Douglas Adams publications from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Amazon Germany or Amazon Canada]

The shape of the evening is this. First of all, youíre going to see a very short compilation, about fifteen minutes, of films that Gary has specially made, specially made for today. Heís brought some films out of his own archive at home. They need no introduction because they will show themselves and youíll, I hope, recognise most of what you see. It really is a sort of thirty-year history of Garyís life, really. It starts, I think, about 1968, 1969. If Iím wrong, Douglas and Gary will contradict that when they come on the stage here. And itíll be showing right up to his very latest things that heís been doing recently.

And after that, I shall hand straight over to Douglas Adams, who will come and talk with Gary for the rest of the evening or as long as we can talk here. And at the end, if thereís time and if you want to, do ask some questions because the facilityís there if you want them.

So enough from me. Letís have a look at this special film that Garyís made specially for tonight which will look back on his career over a period of thirty to thirty-five years.


To film sound: A Whiter Shade of Pale
Voice over film: Take a drive down memory lane ... [it's a commercial for the Ford Mondeo, a kind of motor-car] ... 

Thanks, Jill, for the typing

Brooker at the Barbican 1999: index page


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