Pete Brown’s Wagon’s Left The City

There have been a few lyricists who rose to poetic heights, yet Pete Brown was possibly the only verse-weaver who started out as a poet and remained a poet even when his lines would be wrapped in melodies and sometimes in tuneful growl of his own. In other words, Brown remained the poet for all of his life – the life which ended yesterday, on May 19th, with the 82-year-old Peter succumbing to cancer.

Of course, his truly immortal lines came into existence once Brown began writing for CREAM, co-penning such classics as “Sunshine Of Your Love” (covered by many artists up to Ella Fitzgerald) and ‘White Room” to name but two, and carrying on working with Jack Bruce on the latter’s solo album whence emerged the immensely popular ballad “Theme For An Imaginary Western” and the less prominent, albeit more exquisitely eloquent, “Rope Ladder To The Moon” – the first would become a staple of MOUNTAIN’s repertoire, the second a fixture of COLOSSEUM‘s concert set – and “Tickets To Water Falls” if one is to touch upon only a single platter. However, the list of records featuring Pete’s stanzas is nigh on endless; it includes the last-ever PROCOL HARUM longplay “Novum” on which he replaced the ensemble’s usual wordsmith, another Jewish man of lettersKeith Reid (who died two months ago); and the projects where the poet played the roles of singer and percussionist – PIBLOKTO!, BATTERED ORNAMENTS and, before them all, THE FIRST REAL POETRY BAND that married his countercultural verses to music enhanced by the presence of the young John McLaughlin who dedicated “”Pete the Poet” in his own debut “Extrapolation” to his mentor. Then there were a collaboration with Brown’s buddy Graham Bond, work with MAN’s Phil Ryan, lyrics done for Joe Bonamassa‘s “Royal Tea” and many more memorable moments – and there will be more.

A warrior and a worrier, despite delivering the sorrow-defying “I Feel Fine” which even Belinda Carlisle used to sing, just before his passing Pete has been recording his final opus, with Clem Clempson, Malcolm Bruce and other friends helping out. It proved difficult for Brown who didn’t feel fine at all, but, as he’d say, the sun was in his eye. The great poet’s left a space no one can fill now. Rest in Peace, PB.

May 20, 2023

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