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Contributors by alphabetical order of surname – longer pieces continued on separate pages
'Hi Roland, thank you very much for sending
this through. It is very touching and I have shared it with the whole family.
Dad always spoke fondly of the Procol fans
and would not miss a chance if he could help it to hang out with what he considered a community of good people who shared his love of music.'
Poul Achton [Denmark]
With the news of Dave Ball’s passing, the first thought that came to my mind, after the initial flow of tears, was : “How lucky I am to have met Dave in this life!” And, so are all of us here – were it only for a brief moment or encounter!
Let me take you back to Southend, July 2007; I was a member of a happy coalition, the Danish tribute band Procol Harum Project, formed by Søren Borello in 2006, inspired by the Palers’ gathering in Lejre, Denmark that same year.
We were fairly ambitious, and loved playing the great music of Brooker and Reid. And, although we had built up a neat repertoire of about ten songs and felt comfortable with them, it was still a HUGE boost, when Søren was contacted by Roland and Jens and we were invited to join the 2007 Palers' Convention and celebration of Procol Harum's 40th anniversary – in Southend and London!
In the months preceding this wonderful event, I became a part of the wonderful project of Jens and Roland’s admirable task of arranging the whole affair, coordinating everything, including, of course, matching the combinations of musicians, from gifted amateurs to hardcore professionals, for the many songs to be rehearsed and performed. One of the participants, who was presented on our mutual homepage, was a guy with a big grin on his face – to be honest, I didn’t know him at the time, and the fact that he presented himself as “ Le Comte de Bollocks” did NOT make him more familiar ...
Read the rest of Poul's article here
Michael Ackermann [Germany]
Das erste mal, dass ich Dave traf war am 07. 07. 2007 beim Gaffenberg
Festival (nahe Heilbronn). Bezogen auf die Procol Harum – Historie zu einem sehr
späten Zeitpunkt. Er war auch dort um seine ehemalige Band Procol Harum zu sehen.
Leider hatte ich nie die Gelegenheit das "line up" von Procol mit ihm live
erleben zu dürfen. Damals, 2007, hatten wir den gleichen Arbeitgeber, die
Deutsche Bank. Er arbeitete in Frankfurt, ich in Wuppertal.
Es ging mir ebenso wie wohl allen anderen Fans, ich war sofort angetan von seiner einnehmenden und humorvollen Art! Schnell hatten wir weitere Gemeinsamkeiten ausgemacht: Wir waren beide Widder (Aries) aus dem Jahre 1950, er eine Woche älter als ich. Da musste man sich ja gut verstehen.
Bis zum nächsten Wiedersehen sollten weitere 6 Jahre vergehen. Roland hatte mich informiert, dass Dave auch zur Fan-Club Convention nach Wuppertal kommen würde, obwohl ihn seine schreckliche Krankheit schon plagte. Ich bewunderte seine so positive Einstellung zum Leben. Welche Freude war es, diesem "Riesen" (in jeglicher Hinsicht) innerhalb der knappen Woche in Wuppertal mehrfach zu begegnen. War es in der Townhall, bei den Proben mit der Paler's Band oder aber auch bei dem tollen Abschluss der After Show Party. Obwohl er sich nie in den Vordergrund drängte, zog Dave alle in seinen Bann.
Ich kann nicht behaupten, ihn gut gekannt zu haben, aber die Nachricht von seinem viel zu frühen Tod hat mich zutiefst erschüttert. Er wird mir immer in lebendiger Erinnerung bleiben.
The first time I met Dave was on 7 July 2007 at the Gaffenberg Festival (near Heilbronn): in terms of Procol Harum history, very late. He, too, was there to see his former band, Procol Harum. Unfortunately I had never had the chance to see the 'Dave Ball' Procol line-up live. At that time, in 2007, we had the same employer, Deutsche Bank. He was working in Frankfurt, I was in Wuppertal.
I had the same experience as all the other fans – I was immediately taken with his charm and humour! We quickly identified other things we had in common: we were both Aries from 1950, he a week older than me. We were bound to get on.
It was six years until we met again; Roland had told me that Dave would be
coming to the fan club convention in Wuppertal, even though already afflicted by
his terrible illness. I admired his positive attitude to life. What a joy it was
to meet this 'giant' (in every sense) on several occasions in that short week.
Although he never sought the limelight, Dave captivated everyone. I can't claim
to have known him well, but I was deeply shocked by his so-untimely death.
Memories of him will always stay with me.
[Trans. Peter Christian]
Charlie Allison [Scotland]
Dave Ball. What a great guy! I have been very touched by all the detailed tributes sent in by fans who had met him and played music with him (you lucky people!). I am ashamed really to have so little to say, except I met him a couple of times and the last time at Wuppertal he immediately remembered my name ... some people are very blessed with this faculty.
He talked mainly about how much he was enjoying making music with the Palers' Band ... I think he may have used the words 'nutcases' (but my memory may be suspect!) ... and I asked him about his art (some of which was on display) and his amazing life, which had taken him to live in Australia. He had that easy-going friendliness I associate with Oz – my cousin's partner is from Sydney and Dave Ball was very like him - and Dave seemed to have time and patience for everyone.
I bought some of his music and have recently been going through his You Tube 'retirement pieces' - I've been so impressed with his range of music-making on so many instruments and his natural humour, warmth and love of life, his genuineness, his lack of maudlin sadness or bitter regret (perhaps David filmed these clips during a period of optimism and remission?).
David Ball was only in Procol Harum for a short time and most of us never saw him play live until those recent BtP events in Smith Square or the Palers' events. But his performance at Edmonton – all of which is captured on one of the finest live albums in the whole rock catalogue – is there to be heard for ever more. The legend is that he got carried away during Conquistador and they had to do it a second time (he's a legend! I reckon his playing of Whaling Stories and all through In Held is brilliant – much much better than that German TV show video where all the band looks a bit tired and emotional at times (perhaps the lack of an audience and these pseudo-psychedelic special effects makes it a strange gig to watch?).
The whole re-recording of the Grand Hotel album but leaving his recorder contribution on there ... and the record sleeve with Mick's head grafted on Dave's lanky body are stories that few band histories can match. And we can still catch a glimpse of him in one small inverted image! (Actually I was quite sorry to see the 'reveal' of the collection of the Dave Ball pictures as they should have been seen. I just loved the mythology which left something to the imagination). That he could have possibly fallen out with BJ Wilson in the mid 70s is strange, as they would have seemed natural 'partners in crime' in the enjoyment and celebration of life. Maybe now up in that celestial Fillmore they might have struck up a renewed friendship? Certainly there are a lot of great people to make music with up there!
Then there's that fine article in the Express, when he talked about his cancer. Typical of the man.... and typical too how his irreverence may have stood in the way of the Macmillan charity using his undoubted charisma further.
Dave Ball – what a man! What a lot he packed in! Would that we all had all those 'strings to our bows' ... and some of his grace and good humour which endeared him to all who met him.
Lastly – I saw the party invite from his family! It would appear all the Balls have a philosophy like Dave – live life to the full, and celebrate their talents and humanity. I hope that they had a grand day and recalled many happy memories.. Dave made a strong impression to those of us meeting him just fleetingly. He must have been a real giant to all of them.
Look around this tribute, and Dave Ball's page at BtP. His excellent self-portrait with tuxedo and rose (very Grand Hotel!), the 'elegant guitarist' photo with the scarf and (most of all) that picture with the yellow duck on his head ... well, show them to anybody and they will instinctively know he was someone special, a true artiste. R.I.P.
Antonio Costa Barbé [Italy]
My friend Dave: how giant and gentle was he!
Richard Beck [USA]
It is no exaggeration to say that Dave became a beloved figure amongst the Procol fans and musicians. His infectious affability and confounding humility endeared him to us all. I came to understand that Dave's persona was like an onion whose layers must be peeled back to realise what a prolific artist he was. His archival memory seemed boundless and lent itself to cementing his status as a world class raconteur and humanist.
As a guitar player myself, I developed a deep appreciation and admiration for his skills as an extemporaneous soloist. I can think of no better word to describe him than 'fearless'. A fifteen-minute blues solo seems to flow unfiltered from his heart and gut straight through to his fretboard and out of an amplifier, with no discernible hint of repetition.
How grateful I am to have had the pleasure of sharing a stage with Dave Ball for four Procol songs with the first Palers' Band back in 2000. He was as gracious and charming and as funny as a man could be. During an intermission, his towering frame leaned in to my ear and said of my guitar work, "Top stuff". That simple, classy gesture was classic Dave Ball! He graciously signed one of the chord charts I had provided to him at rehearsal and included a brief personal note to commemorate the occasion.
Later that evening Dave joined a few of us at a restaurant table back at the hotel. I had the chance to tell him how I had first laid eyes and ears on him when Procol Harum played at the Overton Park Shell in Memphis. He actually remembered that concert and the venue and had a story or two of his own to share from that gig. I wish to thank him for that precious and indelible memory.
Read the rest of Richard's article here
John Bobin [UK]
I met Dave Ball twice and he was an engaging and friendly man. The first time we met was at a rehearsal for a Palers' Project band gig, prior to a PH concert in London. I had been asked by Roland Clare if I wanted to contribute to the Palers' gig but sadly I was already playing elsewhere that night. Roland asked me if I would like to meet the Palers at the rehearsal so I went to the studios in Southend. He introduced me to Dave and we sat in the sun outside the studios on the steps, chatting about this and that. I asked Dave various questions about his musical career and he was also interested in my rather more modest experiences.
Anybody who met Dave will tell you that he was very easy going and a gentleman. I next met him at the PH Union Chapel gig. I'd gone to the gig straight from work, in a business suit. Dave made a beeline for me, said hallo and then laughingly told me off for wearing a suit. He said it wasn't very rock and roll! This neatly echoes the sentiment on Geoff Whitehorn's famous T Shirt; "Happiness is never having to wear a suit." Dave and I sometimes had Facebook exchanges though I regret to say I never met him again in person after the Union Chapel gig.
He was a great guitarist and a warm and affable man.
Luiz de Boni [Brazil]
I met Dave in Wuppertal, 2013. I was the last one to sign up for playing in the 2013 convention, I hadn’t been in any other one before, and when Roland sent me 'my' set list I just couldn’t believe it: am I going to sing Conquistador with Dave Ball on guitar?! My knees started shaking! What a responsibility, share the stage with him…what is he like?...will he like the (bad) way I sing?
But when Dave first entered the rehearsal studio on Tuesday, it was 'love at first sight'! A calm, kind and gentle man, impossible to dislike! We got on together really well and one of the first songs we started practising that morning was exactly Conquistador! He grabbed his guitar and started playing sitting at the top of the amplifier, still finding the right notes to play, since he hadn't ’t played that tune for a long time!
One thing that I’ve instantly noticed (as the other Palers also did!) is that Dave was taller than me, even sitting on top of the guitar amp! I came close to him, and said about our funny height difference; he then started joking on me, saying he was a puppeteer and I was his puppet… "Hey Luiz, say hello to your friends!” said he, taking a position behind me and touching my back like a pro puppeteer would do! And I, of course, started acting like his puppet...!
During that wonderful week at the Arcadia Hotel we met at the lobby every
night after dinner and had some beers in the bar where he told us long and
captivating stories…it was hard to leave him and go back to the room!
Then for my surprise, since I didn’t know this side of Dave, in the day of the Convention itself, Saturday at the Barmen Club, I saw Dave surrounded by his paintings, books, sculptures, funny stuff and T-Shirts! Needless to say I bought three of his T-Shirts (I still got them!).
The show was a huge success, Conquistador was one of the best performances the Palers did that night (you can watch it on YouTube) and I can say we became real friends. We were always in contact through Facebook since then…we will all miss that 'half hippie half man' fellow …
Elizabeth Bryson [USA]
My first time getting to know Dave Ball was in Wuppertal, Germany in 2013 with the Palers' Band. As many of us Palers did, I spent quite a bit of time with him at rehearsals, in the bar at the hotel and then backstage during the night of the Palers' Band performance. He was very kind to me from the first time we met, when he first arrived at rehearsals. He was very kind to everyone as far as I could see.
Obviously, music was the connection and the main attraction for the Wuppertal gathering – Procol being the main attraction and then various musicians from various countries getting together to perform with the Palers' Band. All of it intermingled wonderfully. I got to see various other sides to Dave as the week went on – most enjoyably experienced with cups of tea at rehearsal and most especially with numerous glasses of wine (or beer in his case) late at night in the hotel bar. I'm guessing that if it was up to Jens, Dave and I the bar would not have closed!
Back to the music, everyone there clearly knew, he was a brilliant musician. I've got a great memory of singing All This And More during the Palers' Band performance in Wuppertal with Dave on guitar – a very special musical moment for me indeed.
However, there was so much more to Dave than playing the guitar... I was fortunate to have spent some time with not just a great musician but also a great storyteller and an artist who created wonderfully clever cartoons and ingenious paintings. All of that was a gift, but the biggest blessing of all was getting to know Dave as a friend, if even for a little while. He was quite unique, thoughtful, very funny and most definitely cheeky!
He also offered some very wise philosophical life advice – staying true to yourself. He was a big man physically but even more – a big soulful presence as a person, and I will be one of the many who will truly miss him.
God bless you, Dave
Stewart Bryson [USA]
I met Dave Ball for the first time, with my wife Elizabeth, in Wuppertal, Germany two years ago at the hotel bar. Even though he had been a member of Procol Harum, he seemed quite comfortable sharing stories of all sorts of topics ranging from music to philosophy and many others. He had a wonderful wit and irreverent sense of humor, but what I most appreciated about Dave besides his powerful musical prowess was his generosity to give his time to people who viewed him as more than just a bandmate of Gary Brooker, but also as a friend.
Prior to the Palers' Band performance I saw him hanging out in the Hallway behind backstage for a breather. He talked a bit about his bout with cancer. He was very philosophical about what it all meant to him in the grand scheme of things. There was no 'Woe is me' or 'Why Me'" attitude toward what must have been an enormous challenge. He attacked his illness the way he would attack a solo on Conquistador. He would live and die on his own terms to the best of his ability. I was touched that he would be so candid, not in a chest-thumping way, but in a very determined way.
I cherish that conversation and the time we were able to spend with Dave, having a pint or two and telling grand stories. Dave will always be remembered by us in the happiest of terms and as a friend, although for too short a time.
Gary Celebre [USA]
I only got to meet Dave on a personal level briefly at a Procol concert way back when ( I helped him hail a cab on 3rd Avenue. in NYC ).
Our relationship grew fondly as Facebook mates, and we shared a lot of humor and laughs together as well as sharing ideas. He once gave me advice about our rehearsals with my band, 'Broken Barricades'. He said screw the rehearsals, play what you feel: it will all come together!
Hey, my daughter became very close with Dave as well sharing art work and music, considering he was thirty years her senior or so.
As you may know, last year before the Long Island convention the rehearsals were here at my place. I asked Dave if he was going to come and if he needed a place to stay I could accommodate him. His reply was, "It sounds great. I'll let you know but have some personal issues that may get in the way and may not be able to come to the convention."
What is most disturbing, I sent him a Birthday wish only to read the next day that he was no longer with us
I knew he was fighting cancer, but this was a total shock.
My heart to the hearts of the Ball family, for a really great guy!
Dave, you will be missed by all!
Marvin Chassman [USA]
My first memory of seeing Dave (aside from onstage in 1972 at my first Procol concert) was in Guildford in 2000. I was outside talking to someone who noticed that Dave had just sat down at a table inside the hotel bar. Not used to seeing rock stars up close, I probably had a surprised expression as I turned to look and there was Dave, frantically waving, as if he were the one spotting one of his musical heroes.
Meeting him that weekend and during Palers' Band rehearsals in 2007 in Southend and 2013 in Wuppertal, I got to know him better. He was always very friendly, a great story-teller, as well as quite a guitarist. It was an honor to be part of the same band he was in for those occasions.
I'll certainly miss him. Gone far too soon.
Roland Clare [UK]
When Jens and I asked Dave Ball to give the keynote ‘Talk to Fans’ at the Wuppertal Procol Convention in 2013, we wanted to ensure that all the partygoers … not just the 3am diehards who would gather round him in the post-show bar … should experience and enjoy the hilarious cocktail of warmth, wisdom and wildness that invariably cascaded from this most gregarious and affable of men.
In that respect – as in all others during our
fourteen-year friendship with Dave – he delivered, in spades (and in that
curious half-Antipodean accent). A couple of self-accompanied songs from
fine solo album, Don’t Forget Your Alligator, numerous rock’n’roll
anecdotes, some self-deprecating career notes … and these ingredients were
fearlessly accompanied by a warts’n’all account of what was then
his ‘brush with bowel cancer’.
Grateful to be in remission, Dave told how he had offered to put himself forward – to the MacMillan Cancer charity – as ‘the face of bowel cancer’, an ambassador for the positive, undaunted attitude that characterises a survivor; and he was perhaps a little bit miffed that he hadn’t been taken up. But then he actually showed us ‘the face of bowel cancer’ – as filtered through the Ball funnybone and gurning addiction – puckering his mouth into a perfect likeness of the sphincter at the opposite end of the digestive tract. Small wonder he didn’t get that particular gig.
Read the rest of his article here
Tito Davila [USA]
I just remember one day in Southend during a break in Palers' Band rehearsals, I believe Don Milione started doodling with Repent on the Hammond.
I started playing along on drums and other instruments joined in. Suddenly, Dave Ball walks in and picks up the guitar.
I was obviously shaking in my boots, but the moment he started playing the feeling was electrifyingly. There was a sudden rush of pure energy and delight that shot through my body. My mind was totally blown.
I was not only hearing the music, I was living it and it was Dave's awesome guitar work that did that. All unplanned and spur of the moment like catching lightning in a bottle.
Jeremy Gilien [USA]
A lovely chap.
Had the honor and pleasure of playing Simple Sister alongside him in the Palers' Band, and sharing a long cab-ride from Victoria Station to Tufnell Park whilst he regaled me with stories of life on the road with Procol Harum, and I told him my experience of jamming with John Lennon.
Will always have fond memories of that.
Henrik Gøttrup [Denmark]
I remember, with fondness, meeting Dave in Copenhagen, chatting about guitar-playing and enjoying a wonderful PH concert.
After that we occasionally had a digital chat about many other things.
Dave was always very kind and interested in so many other things, not necessarily musical.
Ian Hockley [Oman]
I first met Dave in 2007 when he pitched up in Southend for the Palers’ Band rehearsals. Musically, his talents went before him but what I didn't know until we finally spoke was that he had spent some time in Oman in the late 80s working for the Royal Oman Police. A few enquiries around the place and it turns out that many people here knew him and still remembered his wit, candour and not least his colossal height!
We had many late night chats and he used to tell me about the gigs he used to organise in the Jebel Mountains with his band 'Rashid Goes to Nizwa' and the parties he used to have at 'Ball Acres', his house in Madinat Qaboos, a nice leafy upmarket suburb in Muscat. I showed Dave a recent picture of his house in MQ and it's the same house that one of my colleagues lived in for a few years. Even stranger, the immediate neighbour over the road from this house played in Procol's Rainbow show in 1972. (Another colleague – Chris Thomas – played in the Barbican show with the LSO in '96). Sabco Sue, Dave's girlfriend here in the 80s is still about and runs the Sabco shopping mall. Small, strange world isn't it ... what One-Eye would call 'the continuum.'
Dave retained great affection for Oman and very sadly the opportunity for the return visit he had talked about for a while has gone. That a man of such talents, such range and capabilities should be spirited away at the relatively young age of barely 65 seems very unfair.
Dave will certainly be missed by all in the extended Procol Harum family, and beyond.
Wolfgang Lieke [Germany]
I met Dave first in 2000 – Guildford Palers' Convention – and was immediately
impressed by his personality. Not only because he was the brilliant guitarist I
knew from Procol, but also, and first of all, because of his natural, friendly
nature, unpretentious if you will, his sense of humour. He could give you the
feeling you had known him for a long time, even after some minutes. You don't
meet people of this calibre often in your life.
In all these years I had the pleasure to meet him on several occasions in England. We had much fun together, had drinks all night in the bar. We had wonderful conversations, it was great to listen to all these sometimes-unbelievable stories he could tell from his life ... and of course I had the honour to share the stage with him. Even the rehearsals were pure fun, and one could learn a lot from him – of course.
I was always very much looking forward to meeting this great man again, and it's so hard, and hurts badly, to know it will never happen again. Not here. Maybe in another place.
The picture [right: Ball, Lieke, Whitehorn] is rather precisely two years old from today. The last time we met. I miss him very much.
Neil MacDonald [Scotland]
Dave Ball's contribution to Procol Harum's history was limited but purely I think to his youthful exuberance. He was 22, I think, when he played on Procol's iconic Live at Edmonton, their biggest selling album.
It's sometimes difficult to repeat or copy perfection no matter how good you think you may be able but Dave's guitar on that album – especially Grand Finale – will always be special, it's spine tingling.
I never met you, but thank you for that moment in time. Your children should be very proud.
Don Milione [USA]
It was my privilege and my pleasure to share wonderful times with Dave. [Picture, right]
In our group of travellers, he knew that he was the first one to know when it was raining. We often joked about me being circumferentially challenged and he being vertically challenged. I felt an immediate comradery with our common joking self-berating demeaners – and if there is a spell-check in heaven, please, Dave, run this through it a few hundred times and maybe it will all make sense.
Miss you very much.
Greg Panfile [USA]
I had the pleasure of interacting with Dave Ball in person only twice, once in New Jersey, chronicled elsewhere, and again in Guildford UK. I hope our loss is his gain and that greener pastures will greet him. He was a better musician and person than I and a pleasure to have as a bandmate, even for one day. He was an open book, one that rocked, and shared some deep confidences that will never be repeated but always be appreciated, along with an undeserved compliment that I treasure. If everyone were like he, the world would be a far better and much different place.
Farewell for now Dave, in the hope that we are indeed God's and to Him we return.
Daniel Phillips [New Zealand]
I am so pleased Dave took the time to retire from his 'day job' and really
devote his final years to music – the results of which we now have forever. He
was in great spirits and typically friendly: "I will definitely organise some
gigs for when I get back. I am actually really enjoying playing at the moment –
maybe even got a bit of my 'mojo' back! Great to hear from you, Daniel."
The more tributes I read from the fans, the more I realise he was like this with EVERYONE! He always had time for people, no matter who you were, with a beaming smile on his face and a hearty laugh. He was one of the funniest people I have ever met. I was only in my twenties at the time, but it felt like I was hanging out with an eternally young spirit and someone my own age (though far more knowledgeable, and way cooler than anyone my age).
news came as quite a shock, Dave was such a fun, larger-than-life spirit and I
feel the world is a profoundly more boring place without him. I am so grateful
and feel so blessed our paths got to cross, several times and that I got to know
him, even just a little. He truly enriched my life and for that I will be
Eternally Grateful. Even more than his vast, incomparable talent I was touched
by his immense kindness and his unrivalled generosity of spirit.
He was a Giant – in every sense of the word, and although he'd never say it – in fact he would actually deny it – Yes! He was a Guitar God!
Read the rest of Daniel's article here
Gary Shepard [USA]
I have so many vivid memories of our beloved Dave Ball, I only wish I had known him so many years longer ... what an unpolished gem he was! I write this beneath his self-portrait caricature from the Grand Hotel days (he recorded the original guitar parts for that of course). The portrait is signed "To Gary, Friend & fellow Guitar Picker, Best Wishes, Dave Ball." (He once told me he got paid about $100 and dinner in Los Angeles for his work on that!).
There are other framed photos of us together in Southend, of him giving me a personal tour of Soho, Covent Garden, and Tin Pan Alley – where he picked up this guitar in a private booth in a guitar store and just masterfully wailed on it while I accompanied him on a handy nearby acoustic. It was 'Balls to the wall' and everyone who could hear loved it!
Wuppertal – what memories there as well! We sat up 'til 2 or 3 am each night in the hotel bar with Jens, Henry, several others telling tales, unfurling our sails ... great times indeed! Then the rehearsals for our Palers' Band show... how fun that Roland and I had to correct Dave of all people that he wasn't playing the riffs to Conquistador correctly! He was flummoxed over this, to put it mildly. Before our show we duelled on acoustics in the 'green room' – eventually setting into a Beatles hour ... I loved watching him watch me and latch on to music he was obviously not as familiar with. Great times! Then the show ... then the after party – with Dave, Geoff Whitehorn and I getting gloriously drunk together (pictures already posted). What memories! Dave later congratulated me on bearing most of the guitar 'burdens' in our show and doing it very well. I won't forget his kind words soon, that I can promise you.
I left with two very crafty and bizarre tee-shirts he had painted, and memories that will never go away even in his very untimely passing.
God rest ye Dave Ball, may you have as much fun 'up there' as you did down here with us ... you half-hippie you!
Unsteady Freddie Salzberg [USA]
Let me start by saying out loud for all to see/hear, I LOVE DAVE BALL! Wait, wait. Dave has left the Earthly Plane? NO! NO! NO! That isn’t fair! This cannot be true! Can it? Am I giving a dead man’s dream? You mean, it is true? NO! NO! NO! So should I be saying I LOVED Dave Ball? Go to the past tense because he’s standing upon Olympus, where by now The Heavens have opened wide, and let him come in? Answer: NO! I STILL LOVE DAVE BALL. AND ALWAYS WILL!
Have he and Barrie James Wilson been reunited by now? How fast will those two sit down and start bashing out Procol Harum tunes? Now that Dave has broken on through to the other side, he and BJ should try and locate Jim Morrison, IMHO. Jim’s music had a ‘dark side’, as of course Procol have been known to have, peaking with the Home LP. Can you imagine the music that Jim, Barrie and Dave could create? Wonder if we will be able to “download” it (and mean way way “down” from God on high).
OK, how and when did I meet Dave in person? It was after Procol Harum performed at The Schaefer Music Festival in NYC’s Central Park ...
Read the rest of Freddie's article here
Ken Stasion [USA]
My deepest sympathy to Dave Ball's family. I hadn't known Dave was ill. He was/is a true hero to me and I embraced all his creative works with the tremendous bands he was in. Dave was truly a gifted player.
I'm so much more grateful now for the time I got to hang with him in Croydon and I'll forever cherish the photo I have of us together. I know we all will always miss him. We love you Dave, play on!
The video that Charles Allison posted is so wonderful. It's all just so Dave. I wasn't aware that these videos existed. It's been such a very sad day for us all. There's no question, Dave just charmed all who were lucky enough to meet him. Really as wonderful and friendly as can be. I did see Bedlam at the Nassau Coliseum in NY and always felt so lucky for having caught that ... more so now. I know we'll all have remembrances and I look forward to reading them all.
Hans Tammes [Netherlands]
The first time I met Dave was in The Jury's Inn in Croydon, already in May 2002 [picture, right: Stasion, Tammes, Ball]. Time goes by so quick! This [pdf here] is what Dave wrote for my studio friends and me in his own handwriting, after hearing our version of Homburg , which we made for Lost In The Looking Glass. So happy I still have it !
From that moment on we had a kind relationship with nice interesting conversations about all we were interested in, with always that special humour of Dave. Every time we met it was joyful again.
The last time was in Wuppertal where he was my every-day breakfast companion . Again I noticed he was such a warm man with sometimes serious stories but always with a smile.
He never forgot my birthday till the last in November. I missed him 24 November 2014 in London. I didn't know he was ill, because I missed his speech in Wuppertal where he already gave some information about what was happening with him.
It was a shock after I congratulated him for his last birthday, while reading the next day that he passed away.
I will miss his laugh, his way of playing his guitar , and all the conversations we will not have any more. Bye my friend!
Robin Tetlow [UK]
I feel greatly privileged to have been able to meet Dave and to have had various conversations with him at Wuppertal in 2013.
It was the release of the Edmonton album back in April 1972 that transformed me from being an follower of Procol Harum to the fan that I have been ever since. Dave's guitar work on Conquistador, Whaling Stories and In Held 'Twas In I have always been central to my enjoyment of that album; and its success in every sense. Indeed to me the Edmonton versions have always been the definitive versions of these songs in particular.
How was Dave influenced by the earlier versions you might ask? Well we did discuss this. For my part, before the release of Edmonton I was vaguely familiar with Conquistador but had never heard the versions of the other songs with Robin Trower on guitar. Talking to Dave more than forty years after the event, it would seem that when Edmonton was recorded, back on 18 November 1971, his knowledge of the Procol Harum back catalogue was not much greater than my own at around that time. In particular, he told me he had never heard the studio recording of In Held 'Twas In I beforehand. In his inimitable manner Dave expounded, "I just winged it all on the night". Coming from others that might have come across as trite banality or even false modesty. Coming from Dave it seems to me to exactly capture the spirit in which he played that night; and perhaps the spirit in which he ultimately lived his whole life.
Dave's tenure in Procol Harum was of course only relatively short; but unquestionably he made a major contribution to the band's history, which must never be forgotten.
Apart from all of the above, Dave was of course also a great human being, who will be sorely missed, as others – who knew him better than I did – have eloquently testified.
I met Dave
on 7 July 2007 at the Gaffenberg Festival, Heilbronn, Germany. Al introduced
me to Dave. We had a glass of beer together there. Dave was very kind and
friendly. I will always remember him. My wife Doris took that photo of us
(I gave it the title 'Eyes wide shut' like the movie of Stanley Kubrick)
Stephen 'Doc' Wallace [Australia]
I'll never forget the day I met Dave Ball. Here was one of my heroes playing on the same stage, and I could hardly believe it. 'You play a bit like Dave Ball', I said with typical Antipodean irony, 'maybe better...' and he laughed. That was the start of a friendship which I treasured til the end. Dave has always made me feel strongly. When he called me up one time, he made me feel as honoured and privileged as I have ever felt. When recent news hit me, I took a bigger knock than I realised. Maybe I just needed to weep a lot for Dave before I could write anything.
Meeting Dave was a joy. Spending time with him in Guildford in 2000 was a highlight of my life. He spun wild stories from near and far, without the slightest hint of hubris. As a dinner companion he was the soul of grace and charm. He could effortlessly talk about anything, usually humorously. Watching him watch the band seemed strange to me, as he always seemed to enjoy the music like any aficionado; yet here was one of the pantheon looking on in admiration at the successors. We were lucky enough to be invited to the Ball household in Poole and shared a memorable dinner with Anita and Katy, before Dave's generosity got the better of him and he invited all six of us to stay over!
I can't say I knew Dave that well: but I loved the man we knew. He was endearing company, and a huge presence in our family history. So many good things happened when Dave was around, and now I feel a huge absence, and can't really explain why. There was nothing mean about Dave; his generosity and candour was fulsome, and he taught me much about dignity and graciousness. He was unforgettable; a towering presence in the world of music, and the essence of modesty. Seeing him take his rightful place again in London 2007 was another highlight. I longed to ask him how he heard our feeble attempts to follow his masterstrokes. But as usual Dave just did it and moved on.
Dave was a master of most things he tried; he could play, write, sing, draw and work computers! Seeing his web-page again reminded me of the life and vitality which Dave shared with his friends. Thankfully we can still enjoy the bitter/sweet traces he has left us.
It's hard to believe that such a spirit has passed on; but I am just grateful that he sprinkled that precious genius around, however briefly. He was loved by many and will be hugely missed by us all. And we shall never see or hear his like again, so we will try to take heart from those wonderful moments we remember. Thank you Dave for decorating our otherwise ordinary lives: you were special and we loved you for sharing some of your magic with us.
Love to all the Ball family from Stephen, Amanda, Stephanie, Elly, Abby, Emilia and James Wallace
Heidi Widmer [Switzerland]
My first Procol Harum show at the Brighton Dome dates back
to 1974 but Dave had already left them. I first met him in the lobby of the
Thistle Victoria in London on 21 July 2007 while attending BtP's Procol Harum’s
40th anniversary celebrations. He warmly welcomed me, huge smile on his face, as
if he had known me all my life. Dave was a special guest at the second show,
“Procol Rarum“: The lost songs of Brooker and Reid, and also appeared with the
Palers’ Band earlier in the day. He was a gregarious, fun-loving man who was
often around at Palers' conventions and enjoyed mingling with fans and his
Procol Harum mates. Our paths crossed again in Copenhagen in January 2011 when
my husband and I travelled there to see two Procol Harum orchestral shows at
Dave was a highly gifted, multi-talented artist and it was not only his brilliant guitar playing that fascinated me but also his fantastic paintings. In December 2010 he built his own website (www.worldslump.com) which featured his music, writing and artwork. He also intended to open an online shop for prints, posters, T-shirts etc. I never dared asking what an original piece of art would cost, as I assumed I could not afford it, but in summer 2011 I decided to order some T-shirts instead. This led into a lengthy (four months!) and funny e-mail conversation due to multiple issues, such as embroidery problems, slow service in general or a stain on one of the shirts when Dave got them from the print company. I assured him that I did not care about any delay, yet he was a man who went into the matter. Once he was so upset he threatened to go down to the printers and fire off expletives! He even considered giving me the money back but still wanted to send me the items, once they were done. The T-shirts eventually arrived and he kindly included a copy of his album Don’t Forget Your Alligator with a dedication to me and my husband.
It was very special that Dave shared his birthday with my husband’s godchild and with Eric Clapton, whose music I am a big fan of. Sadly I did not happen to see him again, as I could not make it to the convention in Wuppertal in 2013. I cannot say I knew him well but he was a lovely man and an amazing artist with a great sense of humour.
am grateful that I had the chance to meet him and I proudly wear his T-shirts.
Richard Williams [USA]
I was so saddened to read Sunday of Dave Ball's demise. My late wife, Dixie, and I so enjoyed his extreme sense of humor. Dixie complimented Dave's guitar playing as being 'Claptonesque' . Dave was well complimented and replied that he worked at "fretting like Eric. " Dixie played Mr Ball's CDs frequently after the Wuppergig. I firmly believe she developed a crush on him. She would comment with enthusiasm, "Listen to that! Listen to him play! He's great!"
We sat with Dave at the Palers' Dinner at the Stadthalle in Wuppertal Germany after the concert extraordinaire in 2013. He kept us in stitches with stories and jokes that shouldn't be repeated in mixed company!
His song GonnaDoThis, GonnaDoThat was a hit at the Palers' Convention and showed his R&B writing style extremely well.
Conquistador, from the Live in Edmonton LP, is my all-time favorite Procol tune. Dave Ball and BJ Wilson on the same tune? How does it get any better than that?
I'm so sad he's gone. What an extremely talented and funny man.
God bless you, Dave.
|Dave Ball's page at BtP||Dave's last interview: essential reading|