I heard about Mr. Brooker from a friend’s podcast
I was listening to Jim and Stephen Monaghan’s weekly show “Sports with Mono and Mono,” when I learned of the passing of Gary Brooker.
But it was when he performed “Salty Dog” I was struck with the thought that when this performer, Gary Brooker sang on stage he sounded even better then his famous well produced and well engineered recordings.Eric Ten Broeck
Here is a link to their show streamed live on Feb 26, 2022 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjqGBMKo5QM wherein Jim makes his remarks toward the end of the podcast.
As a youngster my exposure to Procol Harum was only through the New York City F.M. Radio. Most notably, stations WNEW WPIX and WPLJ. I did not own any Procol Harum records back then, that came later in life when I gave my son Alex a turntable record player for his eighth grade graduation present, and he and I began collecting classic rock vinyl and cassette tapes at garage sales, flea markets and even the West Chester Pennsylvania Salvation Army record bin.
As a result of our endeavors, Alex became a huge Yes fan, especially a fan of bassist and singer the late Chris Squire, and I became reacquainted with many of the classic rock and roll records and artists including Procol Harum.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania it was Mr. Booker’s night
It was in the spring of 2012, we learned that Yes was playing at the Casio in Bethlehem Pennsylvania with most of their original line up, sans singer Jon Anderson. Procol Harum was their opener. I bought tickets for Alex, Christopher (my other son) and myself.
Yes was the headliner but, quite frankly, it should have been the other way around. The Yes performance was not as good as expected. For instance, they played only a few of their classics. Moreover Gary Brooker and his Procol Harum band out shined and outperformed the famous band Yes. A totally unexpected surprise.
Among my Procol Harum favorites that evening were “Whiter shade of pale” and “Simple Sister.”
But it was when he performed “Salty Dog” I was struck with the thought that when this performer, Gary Brooker sang on stage he sounded even better then his famous well produced and well engineered recordings.
Here is a Youtube link to Salty Dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gi7Z3-T_qQ
In conclusion – This was a profound experience. And when it comes to relating experiences like these, as a writer I have difficulty. Here is a list of my impressions of that evening:
- This was possibly one of the best vocal performances I have ever heard.
- If I was the sound engineer tasked with recording this show live, what would I do to ensure I captured the essence of this great performance?
- This was a rare occasion where the opener outshines the headliner.
- What a happy man I was to have spent the evening with my two sons in June of 2021.
Lastly, Mr. Brooker thank you for sharing your gifts with us. Thank you for that wonderful evening of music in Bethlehem Pennsylvania almost 10 years ago. May your soul rest in peace.
Eric Ten Broeck
One thought on “Gary Brooker, the passing of”
Eric, great column! Nice to recognize a group that never got the credit it deserved. My older brother loved Procol Harum. And he is a product of that era of music. Also, thanks for the mention of Sports with Mono and Mono! Continued success with your writings!
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