Song Of The Day 6/7/2013: P.J. Proby - "The Day That Lorraine Came Down"

P.J. Proby had a knack of being around some extremely famous people. Born in Texas, Proby claims to have known Elvis Presley since age 14, which was about three years before the singer broke. After he moved to Hollywood a British producer played some of his music for Brian Epstein, who got Proby a spot on the Beatles' first international TV show, alongside Long John Baldry and Cilia Black. Proby became one of those relatively few Americans, like the Walker Brothers, who lit up the U.K. charts without ever having a sizable following in his home country. His website alleges that he was the first male performer to wear a ponytail onstage. So unique was he that Van Morrison actually wrote a song lamenting the absence of music firebrands of the '60s called "Whatever Happened To P.J. Proby?", which also name-checks Scott Walker and Screaming Lord Sutch.

Proby's 1969 album Three Week Hero contains the song we focus on today. It's a very blues-inspired record, a lot rawer than his earlier stuff. His backup band was The New Yardbirds, which Jimmy Page had just summoned in the wake of the old Yardbirds' dissolution. To get their act together they agreed to help Proby out. So what you have here is basically Led Zeppelin with P.J. Proby as lead vocalist. (Or could be -- I haven't been able to confirm that John Bonham is playing drums on this song, but John Paul Jones arranged it, and Jones and Page play on it.) In fact, Robert Plant even shows up to play harmonica in the album's final, extremely racially insensitive medley. Google and YouTube that thing at your own risk, I'll have no part of it.

From here, Proby went on to play Elvis in a stage production and "The Godfather" in The Who's '96 Quadrophenia tour, rocked the mutton chops before Lemmy, and quit drinking. Led Zeppelin dated Aleister Crowley, did some mystic druid shit, liberated the mud shark from captivity, and had a huge hit with their best-known track and classic rock staple, "The Crunge." Or something like that.


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