Procol Harum

the Pale

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The Paramounts at play

Your chance to own this marvellous piece of memorabilia!

This evocative photograph was taken onstage during a Paramounts performance at the 'Shades' coffee-bar in Southend-on-Sea, downstairs in the cellar club was owned by Robin Trower's father, Len Trower. By the estimate of drummer 'Little Mick' Brownlee, it was taken in the early 1960s; Bassist Diz Derrick assures BtP that it must date from after 1963, when he joined the band; he had begun working for the BBC when he left school, and this gig postdated that job. Gary Brooker (pictured left, at an unseen vocal mic and upright piano: how did the band manage to get the latter down the cellar stairs?) would therefore have been about nineteen.

Mick Brownlee was playing on one of the first Black Pearl Premier kits to be produced (Gary Brooker still possesses the receipt for the deposit Mick paid upon buying it, new, from local music shop Hodges and Johnson). This kit had its Paramounts début at 'The Cricketers', now known as Club Riga, a venue well-known to followers of Gary Brooker's various bands.

From this picture it's not possible to identify the gear being used by bassist Diz Derrick, but it appears to be a solid-bodied instrument, quite unlike the one he was using by the time the famous Paramounts Selmer advertisement was photographed. Elsewhere at 'Beyond the Pale' Diz is credited with playing an Epiphone Rivoli, but Diz himself (now a classical musician specialising in the flute, which he took up in 1968) can't recall what he's playing in the picture himself, but advises BtP that he remembers playing 'not a bass guitar at all, but an ordinary guitar, tuned down' at one stage. Robin was playing his 'Country Gent' through a small Selmer amp, raised off the floor on a crate to improve sound transmission, with two small additional speakers to enhance the treble end: note that one of these proto-tweeters is equipped with a pair of Shades! One can't be sure what model this combo is, but the centrally-placed Selmer logo was an unusual variant featured between 1961 and 1963 on a few products such as the Professional, the Stadium, and the Selectortone, whose power rating varied between 8 and 15 watts, and whose prices were 30, 53 and 65 guineas respectively.

The cartoon of the band, in the background, was painted by a Paramounts follower, and until recently it was still extant and in the possession of Len Trower. It seems to depict Trower in his blond-haired phase; unlike the cartoon, Robin is not wearing a tie at this particular session, but Mick is; his neckwear in the cartoon seems to have a life of its own. But the cartoon figures are a good deal more animated than the real musicians, who are constrained by a very tight stage; eye-contact is somewhat difficult, with the singer and pianist facing away from the rest of the band. Diz appears to be studying Robin's guitar, maybe because visual cues are important in a situation like this where there don't appear to be any monitors. The two power cables in the background would not pass muster in today's health-and-safety climate!

Fantastic picture, in any case. Many thanks to Mick Brownlee for letting us see it, and to him and Diz Derrick for additional information. RC

Bid for a signed copy of this picture on eBay ... auction ends 4 October, 17:11 BST!
All proceeds go to 'Bosom Pals', the Southend charity combating breast cancer

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