Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Dave Ball … guitarist, author

Half  Hippie Half Man • the frank and hilarious autobiography

April 2012:
Further down this page you can read the first news we published about Dave Ball's autobiographical writings – well, it's been eleven years but it's released now (23 April) and you can
download it from or (the book is in Kindle format: if you don't have a Kindle reader, you may download a reader application for PC, Android or Apple from Amazon)

Dave writes to 'Beyond the Pale' (April 2012): 'I am in the process of finishing the standard E-Pub format – which will run on eg iBooks, Blio, Sony (I think), and so on. This version will feature imbedded graphics and such like goodies – pictures and photographs where appropriate. Kindle was simply not ready for this. I expect to complete this within the next three weeks.

BTW: the book comes right up to date ... much has been added since the extracts below were featured at BtP: we quote: 'It is the 22nd April 2012 at 19:32 hrs. right now, and my Solo Album – Don’t Forget Your Alligator”; this Book – Half Hippie - Half Man ; together with a Bedlam Album are all due for release tomorrow (so you had better hurry up and say good bye then! Ed.) It is a completely new phase of my life, and it is all very exciting. As soon as this is all squared away and all the bits and pieces are out in the (online) market place, I begin the preparation work for my next album and the next book (well, the sequel to this, which learned tome I have already started!)'

September 2001:
BtP was delighted to get a long, friendly call from guitarist/author Dave Ball during his September return to the UK from New Zealand, where he now resides.

Part of his trip has been devoted to preliminary negotiations with three London publishers, who are at present considering Dave's very amusing autobiography. This is a racily-written account of his Birmingham childhood, his rock and roll apprenticeship, his big-time breaks with Cozy Powell and with Procol Harum and his gold-selling album, to say nothing of his astonishingly varied career thereafter, in countries round the world.

It deals frankly and warmly with family life, various partnerships, and even with playing in the Palers' Band – including the all-night socio-economic summit at the Jarvis Hotel – and it has an entirely extraordinary conclusion worthy of Douglas Adams. Where it differs from conventional rock biographies is in its variety, unpretentiousness and wit, though it does possess a fair share of classic on-the-road revelations and surprises, which will make it a must-have for the Procoholic.

An early draft of the manuscript attracted Gary Brooker's attention, who put Dave in touch with a publishing contact. Matthew Fisher has also read and enjoyed a preliminary version. BtP will doubtless have more news on publishing progress when Dave has had longer talks to the various editors. His favourite at the moment appears to be the excellent independent SAF Publishers, who also published the Procol Biography by Claes Johansen. Meanwhile we twisted Dave's arm for a few characteristic extracts …

Sutton Coldfield: Catholic frogs and a stunt budgie
Our new house at 190 Rectory Road was quite splendid. It was a detached house with its own garden, which lead to a park which had magnificent woods and fields to play in. There was a local cricket ground that had a beautiful thatched pavilion (until it got burnt down! Not us… honest!) 

The trees in the woods, many of them hundreds of years old, were better than any Disney World. A superb stagnant pool resided at its heart. Every year it became the breeding ground for the local frog population, and the shallows would be overflowing with the semolina-like frogspawn … 

Dave takes pocketsful of frogs to Communion … numerous pets expire … heart-stopping times for Dinky the budgie … read more of this extract here

Sports: Dave Ball in training
I was never a keen sportsman in those days. Some kids just seemed to be natural gymnasts; ball players and athletes. The only sport I could say I excelled in was … 

Dave waxes philosophical about human stature … read more of this extract here

Procol Harum Seek Tall Guitarist With View to Long-Term Relationship
Something like that anyway. People often ask me if I had been a big fan of Procol before I joined them. Well, the truth is, I had loved A Whiter Shade of Pale and enjoyed Homburg and Salty Dog immensely, but I knew none of their other stuff, nor even that they still existed. 

I did actually have a brief encounter with them back in 1967. My band of the day – Chicago Hush –were shopping for flower-power clothes … 

Dave meets Procol in hippie days … samples of the Brummie accent … auditions with Gary and Keith … 'why me, do you think?' … read more of this extract here

Toujours L’Amour - Osaka
Those of you familiar with PH music may recall a tune called Toujours L’Amour. It is a hopelessly romantic song and we decided that it deserved to have a cocktail drink named after it. So, in our hotel in Osaka with a willing barman, fully stocked bar, no expense limit and some of the most dedicated drinkers the British Isles could throw up we set to the task … 

Dave specifies exactly how to make this cocktail … some Vietnamese weed … Bringing Home the Bacon three times … a bollocking the length of Hamletread more of this extract here

Me and the Press, or The Press and I
Another amusing event related to interviews and publicity generally. After the Edmonton album was released we were naturally anxious to get good reviews from the music press. Chris Wright, our Manager, came out to somewhere in the mid-west to see us and to bring news of the press reports. We had been reviewed by all of the major British music papers including Sounds, NME and Melody Maker. Chris was relating the gist of the reports in a dressing-room before a gig. I happened to be out of sight … 

Chris Wright drops a clanger … gasps of incredulity … read more of this extract here

Since leaving the UK Dave has also been working on a volume of verse, Without Rhyme or Reason, many of whose poems would have made excellent pseudonymous contributions to our Too Many Poets feature (perhaps they did??). In Reid Between the Lines, for instance, we get a hint of the Ballistic motivation to write:
  Keith wrote once in times gone by
Write it down – it might be read
He may be right, but who knows why
Best I do it before I'm dead.

As Dave has a large amount of artwork produced over the years, there's a possibility that he may eventually come up with a book combining that side of his talents with the verse-writing.

But his career as a musician is by no means on hold. He has been writing songs in preparation for a solo album, which, he reports, will feature a variety of styles of music: he is looking at present for a record company to take an interest in that project. He also reports that the Big Bertha and Bedlam CD re-releases have been reprinted … BtP will of course be reviewing these when the label gets round to sending promo copies!

Dave Ball's page at BtP SAF Publishers …visit their site

Dave Ball – his book, his album, his fine art

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