Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum's first year in the NME

Dave Knights: 18 November 1967

These excerpts from New Musical Express, kindly selected for 'Beyond the Pale' by Yan Friis, show how poll-mania taking its hold as Homburg continues to slide, and David Knights suffers the NME spotlight.

Front page:

Half page advertisement for Chris Farlowe's Handbags & Gladrags (Immediate)
Half page advertisement for Susan Maughan's To Him (Philips)

Main feature headlines:

Monkees Scoop: a track-by-track review of new LP and latest picture by Allen Evans

Vote for your stars on the NME Poll form

I don't copy Diana Ross says Felice Taylor by Alan Smith

Tipped for the charts by Derek Johnson:

Bee Gees, World
Tom Jones, I'm Coming Home
Paul Jones, Sons And Lovers
Petula Clark, The Other Man's Grass (Is Always Greener)
The Beatles, Hello, Goodbye
Cilla Black, I Only Live To Love You

NME Top 5:

1 (1) Baby Now That I've Found You, Foundations
2 (3) Zabadak! Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
3 (2) Massachusetts, Bee Gees
4 (6) Love Is All Around, Troggs
4 (4) The Last Waltz, Engelbert Humperdinck

15 (12) Homburg, Procol Harum

 (A great package tour travelling around in Britain this week: Jimi Hendrix, Move, Pink Floyd, Amen Corner, The Nice - all on one bill!)


by Frances Gaye

Dave Knights is a worrier. He was a solicitor's clerk and he nearly joined the New Vaudeville Band.

'I've got a very normal background. I come from a working class family, left school at fifteen, went to work as a clerk and taught myself to play the guitar. I hated being a clerk - no satisfaction in it. I only became a professional musician a year ago, when I had an offer from a group called the Establishment.'

'I got out of the rut, made the break and starved a bit. But after a few months I realized that I was banging my head against a wall and that I was just one of the millions around. Nothing came along, I stopped playing, became unemployed and went to the Labour Exchange for three or four months in the great old tradition !'

'And then a miracle happened. I saw an ad, answered it, the people said come around for a talk and it was Procol Harum. What I'd been searching for! The rest, as they say in crummy movies, is history.'

Who is he?
So there was tall, retiring Dave Knights ensconced in a hit-making group playing the way he wanted to with people he liked and understood. Who is this person?

Let him explain: 'I worry too much. That's my weakness. Worry about everything, myself, life in genearl, but luckily I can laugh at the funny side of it so I won't go grey yet. I don't care how people see me, what they think of me. Am I frightened? Not of death. Of dying? I'd hate to be ill for months and rot away.'

'Pain frightens me, it does most people, but death we don't know about. I wouldn't fight. Not under any circumstances, war is so horrible. It's incredible that people see and enjoy war films.'

'I went to see How I Won The War, which is directed to make you realize what it's all really like. I could not go out and kill; I'd probably hesitate so long that I'd get killed myself!'

'I've only thumped somebody once, somebody who really had a go at me. I'm usually very calm. I don't hate anybody but I do dislike people who do harm to others. But I don't dislike President Johnson, I pity him because he believes in what he's doing.'

'Love? Yes, I've loved girls. I try to like people but I'm not a great talker and I don't rush over to make friends with people. I don't anger easily. In fact I can't remember the last time I lost my temper. I suppose I'm essentially a quiet person. I keep things to myself.'

'I like money. I want to be secure and not have to worry about money. I suppose I spend an average amount. I'm obviously living better but I don't chuck my money around. I buy clothes but I don't drink and eat myself to death.'

'I like the luxuries, of course, but it's more important to remain healthy and happy. I'm careful, I don't give my money away or lend to everybody. I save it because I don't really have any extravagances.'

'I used to be a Walter Mitty, daydreaming away in my solicitor's office. I used to think myself into other people's situations, their jobs and wishing I was them. Things used to hurt me then. If something went wrong at work it would blow my mind for weeks.'

Go far
'What do I want to achieve? I want Procol Harum to go as far as we can and I would like everybody to like what we're doing. I want people to accept it. I don't like people who keep comparing us with others, who keep comparing Homburg with Whiter Shade.'

'I think there's been a lot of jealousy from others in the business. When the slightest little thing went wrong with us they said we'd flopped and they only put round the bad things. I don't like that.'

A pretty frank appraisal of himself by a generally reserved Dave Knights. Like all the Procols you have to go to him for information, he'll volunteer little without a lot of time and work from yourself.

Dave is a pleasant, balanced character with a face that is perpetually smiling at some private joke. Not a dominant personality but a very individual one. On occasions he still looks a little like a solicitor's clerk who's been thrown into a hustling, bustling, grabbing world and is blinking in amazement.

Tailpieces by the Alley Cat:

 ... US critics praising Procol Harum in cabaret, particularly Gary Brooker's work ...

Read more from the first year of Procol press

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