Dee Palmer (born David Palmer on July 2, 1937, in London) is a British arranger and keyboardist best known for having been a member of the rock group Jethro Tull.
Palmer learned to play clarinet during a stint in the Royal Horse Guards cavalry regiment to which she was sent. There she studied at Kneller Hall, the Royal Military School of Music. Palmer studied music at the Royal Military School of Music and at the Royal Academy of Music, majoring in composition and winning the Eric Coates Prize.
Jethro Tull and other works
Going about her early career as a jobbing arranger and conductor of recording sessions, Palmer recorded a first album project, "Nicola", in 1967 with the legendary Bert Jansch, Scottish hero of the then Folk scene. She was then referred to Terry Ellis, the then manager of the early Jethro Tull, who were making their first album at Sound Techniques Studio in Chelsea, London, courtesy of Terry's father's £800 loan. At extremely short notice, Palmer came up with arrangements for the horns and strings on the Mick Abraham's composition, "Move on Alone" from the "This Was" album. This speed of work and professional performance endeared her at once to the band and she was soon to visit the boys again in the studio with the brilliant string quartet arrangement to "A Christmas Song". Palmer arranged string, brass, and woodwind parts for Jethro Tull songs in the late 1960s and early 1970s, before formally joining the group in 1976, mainly playing electronic keyboard instruments. In 1980, leader Ian Anderson intended to release a record with other musicians as a solo project (under the name "Ian Anderson") but was persuaded by his record company to release it instead under the name "Jethro Tull". This resulted in every member of the group, including Palmer, leaving except guitarist Martin Barre and Anderson himself. Palmer formed a new group, Tallis, with former Jethro Tull pianist and organist John Evan. The new group was not commercially successful, and Palmer returned to film scoring and sessions. Beginning in the 1980s, Palmer produced several albums of orchestral arrangements of the music of various rock groups, including Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, the Beatles and Queen.
In 2003, Palmer's first name was changed to Dee and early in 2004, she announced having undergone sex reassignment surgery as well as having completed a full gender transition to become a woman. She stated that in her pre-transition life, she had held the secret for about 60 years but had been married to a woman and had not transitioned for pragmatic reasons. In her pre-transition life, she was usually clad in decorative and gentlemanly attire, and smoked a "Sherlock Holmes" style pipe. Palmer's began her transition after her wife died. She was fully accepted by Ian Anderson, who said "I have known for the past two years of David Palmer’s intention to undergo gender-changing procedures and, like many other people who have known David for three decades as a bearded, pipe-smoking man’s man, I found it difficult to understand at first. But I fully support his decision to undertake a new life as a woman. To the many fans of Jethro Tull, I can only offer that they should accept Dee Palmer for her new persona and hope that they enjoy her musical activities in the future".
Jethro Tull Discography from Palmer's era
- Minstrel in the Gallery (1975)
- Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die! (1976)
- Songs from the Wood (1977)
- Heavy Horses (1978)
- Bursting Out (1978 live album)
- Stormwatch (1979)
- Nightcap : The Unreleased Masters 1972-1991 (1993)
- A Classic Case, also known as Classic Jethro Tull (1986)
- We Know What We Like (Genesis) (1987)
- Symphonic Music of Yes (1993)
- Orchestral Maneuvers: The Music Of Pink Floyd (1991)
- Orchestral Sgt. Pepper's (version of The Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)
- Biography at Jethro Tull official website
- Announcement of gender reassignment on Jethro Tull website (archived here)
- Dee Palmer interview from Classic Rock Revisited (archived here)
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