B.J. Wilson

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B.J. Wilson
Birth name Barrie James Wilson
Born (1947-03-18)March 18, 1947[1]
Died October 8, 1990(1990-10-08) (aged 43)[1]
Genres Rock, Progressive rock, Psychedelic rock
Occupations Musician
Instruments Drums
Years active 1962–1990
Associated acts Procol Harum
The Paramounts

Barrie James Wilson (18 March 1947 — 8 October 1990) was an English rock drummer. He was best known as a member of Procol Harum for the majority of their original career from 1967 to 1977.

Career[edit]

Wilson was born in Edmonton, London, and grew up in Southend on Sea. In 1962 he joined local group The Paramounts, who scored a hit with "Poison Ivy" in 1964. After follow up singles failed to chart, the group disbanded in 1966 and Wilson went into session drumming, playing with Cat Stevens and Lulu.[1]

While he was busy with session drumming, former bandmate Gary Brooker had put together a new band, Procol Harum, and despite having a huge hit with "A Whiter Shade of Pale" (which featured jazz session drummer Bill Eyden[2]) had difficulty getting a stable band for recording follow-up material. Wilson joined Procol Harum in the summer of 1967, along with fellow ex-Paramount Robin Trower.[3]

There is some confusion over exactly what Wilson's contributions were to Procol Harum's follow-up single "Homburg". Conventional wisdom states that he played all the drums on the track, but according to both himself and organist Matthew Fisher, he was presented with a half-completed drum track which he subsequently overdubbed a few drum rolls.[3] Whatever the case, he had established himself as the full-time drummer for the group's debut album.

Wilson was the only stable member of the band besides vocalist / pianist Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid during their commercial and artistic peak from 1967 to 1977. He had a powerful, distinctive style - he sat very low behind his kit (often side-on at the side of the stage) and was once referred to as like an 'Octopus in a Bathtub'.{Steve Peacock in SOUNDS magazine, reviewing a 1971 concert: Peacock actually wrote, unfairly, that B.J. thrashed around like "an octopus in a hot tub."} An excellent live performance of Power Failure, written to showcase his talents on the album Broken Barricades (B.J. solos when the electricity fails to the other members of the band) is to be seen on a popular internet video site.

A 1974 Danish TV recording of the band was released as a 6-track "extra" on the 2009 DVD "Procol Harum in concert with the Danish National Concert Orchestra and Choir".

Although he lacked the name recognition as other great drummers of his generation, Wilson is considered to be one of the greatest drummers in rock music, and was voted Best Drummer in the popular Playboy Music Polls of the early 1970s. He declined an offer by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant to be the original drummer for Led Zeppelin.[4]

After Procol Harum disbanded in 1977, Wilson played on Frankie Miller's Double Trouble album in 1978, and was a member of Joe Cocker's touring band between 1979 and 1984.[5] Their concert in Calgary is featured on the DVD Joe Cocker Live (1981) and he is also featured in two Berlin concerts on the 2008 Joe Cocker DVD Cry Me A River (The Rockpalast Collection). B J had been the drummer on Cocker's hit single, "With a Little Help from My Friends", recorded in 1968.


In 1984 Wilson played briefly with Patrick Landreville, a former member of the 1960s cult band RHS, which included bandmates Bob Siebenberg (Supertramp), Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy) and John Boutell (Beauregard Ajax).

In 1983 Wilson was brought in to play drums on AC/DC's Flick Of The Switch album, after their drummer Phil Rudd left the band close to the end of the recording for the album. No tracks recorded by Wilson were used on the finished album according to the recording engineer and was soon after replaced by drummer Simon Wright.

Wilson was the drummer on the film soundtrack of The Rocky Horror Picture Show,[6] on which his former Procol Harum bandmate, guitarist Mick Grabham, also played. According to IMDb, Wilson's friend, prominent film composer, Richard Hartley, was the one who invited him to drum on that soundtrack, and Wilson brought Grabham in to play guitar. B J also played on two tracks ("Lady Day" & "The Kids") on Lou Reed's 1973 album "Berlin".

Wilson's last recorded work was on the 1985 Gary Brooker solo album, Echoes in the Night, along with his former Procol Harum bandmates Keith Reid and Matthew Fisher, on tracks "Ghost Train," "The Long Goodbye" "Hear What You're Saying" and "Mr. Blue Day".

He died in Eugene, Oregon, following a long illness, at the age of 43. He was married and had two daughters.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Talevski, Nick. Knocking on Heaven's Door: Rock Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 719. ISBN 9781846090912. 
  2. ^ "Bill Eyden, the AWSoP drummer". Procolharum.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  3. ^ a b Johansen, Claes (2001). Procol Harum: Beyond The Pale. SAF Publishing Ltd. p. 83. ISBN 9780946719280. 
  4. ^ Johansen, Claes (2001). Procol Harum: Beyond The Pale. SAF Publishing Ltd. p. 119. ISBN 9780946719280. 
  5. ^ "JCBJCG". Community-2.webtv.net. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  6. ^ "Rocky Horror Picture Show (Ost): Soundtrack: Music CD". CDconnection.com. 2000-04-24. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 

External links[edit]