In Memoriam Keith Degroot
Keith Degroot (Saracen), 1944 – 2022
Saracen Groups: London Battle Group
The man who became known as Saracen had a long association with the music industry from the mid 60s, including a debut album in 1968 which featured Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones who then went on to found Led Zeppelin, but his music career was limited to session musician appearances and a trio of singles under the name Gerry Temple. Along the way, he worked with Chris Farlowe - a successful singer who had a No1 single in 1966 and went on to work with many major names in the business. In his spare time Chris collected and traded WW2 militaria, and ran a shop in Camden Passage in Islington called "Call to Arms" which went on to become the place where Viking re-enactment in the UK began. Saracen was an early member, and became known as Gerry East's lieutenant in running the early society.
For a man from a Jewish family, the name Saracen seems odd - whether this was his choice or was bestowed on him by others remains unclear.
When Gerry retired from his leadership role in 1982, Saracen drifted out of the NFPS (as it was then), appearing occasionally at events in London in the later 80s to the frequent consternation of newer members who were warned to be careful around him because he was one of the "old members" who did things differently in those days. He was also one of the founders of the Guild of Warriors, a band of self-described outcasts who were left behind as re-enactment became a more organised and therefore formally managed activity.
There are many stories around Saracen, many of them no doubt apocryphal, while others ring true to those who had some limited experience of him.