Procol Harum

the Pale

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Christmas quizzes 2011/12

The truth sifted from the twaddle, and how to compute the Ultimate Answer

Each day we added three statements to the following list. Not all the statements were true! All you needed to do was make a note, from day to day, of the number of any statement that you considered to be true. Some days there were one true statement, some days there were more than one. There were never zero, and there were fifteen correct statements altogether. Detailed 'how to play' instructions were here.

We hope you didn't make any hasty decisions. There might have been small inaccuracies in an otherwise-faultless statement; and if there were, that whole statement was untrue overall. We might well have taken something that looks true, and mischievously distorted it by changing some tiny detail. And we might have selected something that looked deeply improbable, but was in fact correct in every particular.

Here are the answers, which almost every competitor must have got right, since almost all the Ultimate Answers we received were correct. Sorry it was so painfully straightforward ... won't happen again!

25 December


Procol guitarist Mick Grabham’s first real professional engagement was with Johnny Duncan and The Blue Grass Boys, who played country and western stuff.

 This is true, as Mick himself relates here


Procol Harum will perform in South Africa once during May 2012 – and once again during the following month.

This is also true: one date at the end of May, another at the start of June – see here


Procol Harum reduced to a four-piece band in 1970 so that could they pose with four semaphore flags, spelling out ‘H-O-M-E’ to publicise their new LP, as the Beatles had successfully done for their album Help.

This is not one of the legitimate explanations for the entitling of this excellent album.

26 December


Fans who saw Procol Harum’s first gig of this millennium – at Stoke Park, Guildford – assumed that the two guitarists, Mssrs Grabham and Whitehorn, were playing identical guitars: in fact, however, they were sharing a single instrument – jointly owned by Robin Trower, Dave Ball and Tim Renwick.

This is not true: Procol Harum did use two guitarists at this show, but as the set list shows, Grabham and Whitehorn occasionally played together, which would have been a clumsy prospect had they been sharing a single instrument.


Keith Reid 'played organ on a couple of numbers' when Procol Harum appeared on a bill at The Lyceum with the Rolling Stones in December 1969.

Perfectly correct: thanks to Chris Copping for clarifying the date of this gig (here).


Gary Brooker's purple tailcoat, depicted on the cover of the Live at Edmonton album, was the only item of rock 'n' roll memorabilia to survive last month's firebombing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

As far as we know, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio has not been firebombed, despite its unwillingness to elect Procol Harum.

27 December



Gary Brooker's lime-green trench coat, depicted on the cover of the Live at Edmonton album, was knitted for him by Swingle singer Christianne Legrand.

A glance at the cover of the Live at Edmonton album shows evidence of no such garment – which in any case sounds like an insult to sartorial sensibilities.


Procol organist Chris Copping – a great reader of novels – asserts that the made-up future English language that characterises the late Russell Hoban’s masterpiece Riddley Walker is ‘…almost identical to that heard in pubs in deepest Suffolk’.

He certainly does: on 15 December here. Riddley Walker is the Whiter-Shade-of-Pale-moment in the career of this brilliant Anglo-American novelist, who died so recently: completely uncharacteristic, utterly unforgettable, and tending to overshadow the excellence of so much of the other work. Readers of 'Beyond the Pale' are strongly advised to investigate!


Procol Harum was only the second British band to play live  – rather than miming – in the crater of an erupting Icelandic volcano.

Untrue: Procol's only volcanic gig took place in a long-extinct crater at Dalhalla, Sweden.

28 December



British author Sebastian Faulks mentions Procol Harum several times in his 1984 novel, A Trick of the Night.

Untrue: Sebastian Faulks does indeed mention Procol Harum in a novel, but it is Engleby.


In January 2011 Procol Harum played a total of 129 pieces live with the DR UnderholdningsOrkesteret and DR VokalEnsemble under the baton of David Firman.

True: see here for confirmation.


When Gary Brooker, Mark Brzezicki and Josh Phillips (among other musicians) recorded the Brooker/Reid song A Little Life for a charity project, Keith Reid supplied some additional words.

Not quite true – see here; the extra words (with their colourful, nasal theme) to Keith Reid's lyric were supplied by Gary Brooker.

29 December



Keith Reid offered his publishing to Chris Blackwell – who at that time employed Guy Stevens – in exchange for the fare to go to New York.

This is the case, as several interviews archived at 'Beyond the Pale' attest.


Chris Copping composed music for Suspended Sentence, pseudonymously penned by a Procol Harum fan, but the mp3 link at ‘Beyond the Pale’ no longer works.

This is also true – see here; sadly the music was lost when a server went down, and Prof Copping no longer has the original: 'Finding an old DAT that behaves and a working machine to play it on is quite an ask these days,' he observes.


Procol guitarist Dave Ball’s first real professional engagement was with Johnny Duncan and The Green Grass Gang, who played country and western stuff.

This is untrue, and is suspiciously like the statement about Mick Grabham that started this series of conundrums.

30 December



Procol Harum have now recorded at least seventeen albums of new Brooker / Reid instrumentals, which have been stockpiled for future release to provide an income for the band when the world’s financial markets finally collapse.

It is hard to call to mind a single Brooker / Reid instrumental, for obvious reasons. Seventeen albums'-worth seems entirely improbable.


Gary Brooker broke his right-hand dorsal ribs 7 and 8 while on tour in Finland with Procol Harum.

Indeed he did, as is recorded in A Faulty Log


Matt Pegg broke Gary Brooker’s right-hand dorsal ribs 7 and 8 while on tour in Finland with The Drifters.

Stuff and nonsense.

31 December



Josh Phillips is the composer of many notable television themes including Strictly Come Dancing, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, Celebrity Dog School and The Sack Race.

Josh's credits are far-ranging, but they do not include Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay as yet.


There are only two single-word anagrams in English of Geoff Dunn’s middle name, and one of them is sung in the song
Grand Hotel.

Geoff's middle name is 'Edwin' but the word 'wined' does not occur in Grand Hotel; nor does 'widen'. Perhaps some of our more creative readers might enjoy devising an extra verse that does contain these words, and perhaps anagrams of other Procolers' middle names.


Geoff Whitehorn gets composing credits for a couple of bonus-tracks on the Beyond the Beyond album, originally shelved by the record company and released for the first time in the early 90s.

This is true – as a moment's Google search demonstrates.

1 January 2012



On Wednesday 24 March 1977 Andy Warhol took a photograph of Procol Harum.

One of the reasons that this is not true is that there has been no such combination of day and date.


On Wednesday 24 March 1976 Andy Warhol took a photograph of Robin Trower.

This is verified at this page.


On Wednesday 25 March 1976 BJ Wilson took a photograph of Andy Warhol.

One of the reasons that this is not true is that there has been no such combination of day and date.

2 January



This mp3 clip may sound a bit familiar – yet these words do not go to this tune anywhere on Procol's Ninth.

This is true: it appears to be a fragment of The Poet, before it was worked out for performance, and a good while before it was committed to record as Without a Doubt.


Referring to the ‘Thames Delta’ music exhibition – to be held in Southend-on-Sea from 17 April to 6 June 2012 – Dame Helen Mirren said ‘It’s truly amazing that so much musical talent has been produced (and is still produced) from the small corner of South West Wessex where I grew up.’

This is nearly true, except that the dates are quoted incorrectly, and Helen Mirren grew up in Essex, not Wessex.


The second verse of Holding On is longer than the first verse.

Quite the opposite: see here

3 January



The night Procol Harum played Hong Kong Blues and Sex Machine in concert, Gary Brooker presented a BtP webmaster’s daughter with a silver edition of the chunky little Procol lifebelt badge that was formerly available with a gold finish: this was to commemorate her emigration ‘to go off and become an Aboriginal'.

'All this is so' (to quote Act IV, scene 1, line 125 of MacBeth by William Shakespeare). Illustrations are here


The 76-page book entitled ‘Procol Harum: Progressive Rock, Symphonic Rock, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Gary Brooker, Matt Pegg, Josh Phillips (Musician), Homburg (Song), Procol Harum (Album)’ – edited by Frederic Miller, Agnes Vandome and John McBrewster – is on sale at and consists primarily of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online.

This is true, although it may be hard to imagine why anybody would want such a publication.


A Procol guitarist claimed, of Mark Brzezicki, that ‘ … he didn't always play with a full drum kit, sometimes only a bass drum, snare, hi-hat, and a ride cymbal, and maybe one top tom, with no floor tom, no right hand tom and no crash cymbal …’

The quotation – referring to BJ Wilson – comes from an interview given by someone who probably rehearsed with Procol Harum in the very earliest days, but did not perform with them.

4 January



Procol Harum’s Still There’ll be Moore was conceived as the theme tune for a 1970 James Bond film: but it could not be used, because Moore did not replace Connery until 1973.

This is too silly to merit any comment whatever.


Customers at the Procol Harum online shop – – can choose the currency with which they order their tee-shirts, recordings, and books, by selecting GB pounds, Euros, Japanese Yen or US dollars from the little drop-down arrow box at the bottom right of the screen.

This is not true: the Procol Harum online shop works in three currencies for customers' convenience, not four as shown here.


The American release – DES-18008 – of Procol Harum's first album featured the song Conquistador on side two (second track), whereas on the British version it is the opening track of side one. The Italian version – ILP 30000 – on the other hand, relegates Conquistador to side two track four.

Precisely so, as indicated on this page and on this page.

5 January



Not everybody who has played in Procol Harum is married, but those who are married were all married on the same date (that is to say, 13 July – albeit in different years) and in the same church (that is to say, at St Magner’s, Stoke Poges – albeit to different people)

There is no such church: 'Magner' is the former surname of Procol Harum's very amiable former roadie.


'The funniest three-digit number,' according to arch-Procol Harum fan and renowned author Douglas Adams, is 359.

True ... see here ... and we make no apology for sending you to that page, which contains a monster clue inasmuch as it reminds you of Douglas Adams and the number 42.


John 'Polly' Punter and Chris 'The Grouts' Michie were the Dutch designers who equipped Procol Harum with the notorious ‘Mediaeval Spacemen’ stage clothes in which they were often photographed at the height of the psychedelic 60s.

No they were not. They are two recording personnel whose names appear among the credits on the Exotic Birds and Fruit album, a.o.

We asked you to write down the numbers of all the fifteen true statements above, add up the odd numbers (‘Total A’) and separately add up all the even numbers (‘Total B’).

Total A:  1 + 5 + 11 + 13 + 17 + 21 + 23 + 25 + 29 + 33 + 35 = 213

Total B: 2 + 8 + 14 + 28 = 52

Next you had to find the separate ‘digital roots’ of Total A and Total B.

Total A:  2 + 1 + 3 = 6

Total B:  5 + 2 = 7

The two single-digit numbers, derived from Total A and Total B, were to be converted into letters of the alphabet, using the system A=1, B=2, C=3 … etc.

Total A:  6 = F

Total B:  7 = G

Now you had to find the only Procol Harum song that has those two letters as its initials:

Fools Gold

(In the worked example, the letters derived from the two Totals were ‘D’ and ‘A’: for Douglas Adams, part of whose name is also visible in the page-background)

We asked you to write down the two words of the title separately, and find a number-value for each word, again using the system A=1, B=2, C=3 etc.

F + O + O + L + S = 6 + 15 + 15 + 12 + 19 = 67

G + O + L + D = 7 + 15 + 12 + 4 = 38

Now you had to take these two numbers derived from the title-words and work out their digital roots

6 + 7 = 13; 1 + 3 = 4

3 + 8 = 11; 1 + 1 = 2

Lastly, you had to put the two numbers side-by-side to make a two-digit number ... the answer is 42 ... which is the same as the answer to our last quiz, by an astonishing coincidence, perhaps.

If you were in the quickest three correct entrants (on a beat-the-clock basis) you got your prime choice of the prizes. After that, all correct entries received in the following 24 hours – and they were almost all correct this year, so trivially easy were the questions – were placed in the BtP Homburg, and the remaining winners were drawn by a suitably Glamorous Assistant (subject to taste).

2011 puzzle prizes | Winners How to play

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