Remembering Gary Brooker, the distinctive voice of Procol Harum 

 Released in 1967, Procol Harum’s most memorable hit remains “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”

Remembering Gary Brooker, the distinctive voice of Procol Harum



Born in Hackney Hospital, East London, on 29 May 1945, Brooker founded Procol Harum with his friend Keith Reid in 1966. The band went on to become one of the most successful during the late 1960’s, and crossed on into the 1970’s as a force in the Prog Rock early scene. Released in 1967, Procol Harum’s most memorable hit remains “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”, but the band scored several others such as “Conquistador” and “Homburg.” The band’s eponymous debut studio album “Procol Harum” released in 1967, though noted for its baroque and classical influence, became a masterpiece of Psychedelic Rock and Procol Harum’s set the footprint for the upcoming popular genre of Prog Rock. The influential band successfully garnered new generations of fans to this day. Gary Brooker also collaborated with several musicians over the years including George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Bill Wyman. Gary Brooker died from cancer at his home on 19 February 2022, at the age of 76.

 

“A Whiter Shade Of Pale”

Written by Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, Matthew Fisher, “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” it’s one of the most popular and memorable songs of the 1960’s. The Procol Harum’s signature song was released on 12 May 1967 and entered the U.K singles charts soon after on May 25. By June 8, it was number 1. The success of the song was so big in 1967 that Without much promotion, it reached number 5 on the Billboard pop chart in the United States, becoming one of the anthems for the famous Summer Of Love. With its Bach-derived instrumental melody, soulful vocals, and unusual lyrics, “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” it’s the perfect fusion between Psychedelic Rock, Classical Music and Baroque Pop. It has become an enduring classic and was the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the UK. The song reached No.1 in several countries and it’s one of fewer than 30 singles to have sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Having been originally released as a single on Deram, the song was included on the US release of the Procol Harum self-titled debut album, in September 1967, but not on the original U.K or European versions of the album. In a 1981 article on the musical and societal developments of 1967, for The History of Rock, sociomusicologist Simon Frith described “A Whiter Shade of Pale” as the year’s “most distinctive single”, through its combination of “white soul vocal and a Bach organ exercise” and enigmatic lyrics that “hinted at a vital secret open only to people in the right, drug-determined, state of mind”. Two of the biggest fans of the song was Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Lennon (that when hearing the song for the first time thought it was a Traffic or Steve Winwood song) was reportedly so obsessed with the song that would play it in a loop in his car. “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” it’s a timeless song that remains an airplay favorite and will likely remain that way for future generations.

Watch the 1967 promotional film for “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” by Procol Harum



Watch more 1960’s related videos

 

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