The band pays homage to the artist who is known for his “individuality, integrity, and oftentimes stubborn eccentricity.”
Gary Brooker, the main singer of the rock band Procol Harum, has died at the age of 76. His 1967 single A Whiter Shade of Pale mesmerised baby boomer admirers with its psychedelic melancholy.
The pianist, composer, and songwriter, as well as the band’s frontman, had been undergoing cancer treatment. At the weekend, he died peacefully at home.
Brooker was hailed as “a brightly shining, irreplaceable beacon in the music world” in a statement on Procol Harum’s website.
“Gary demonstrated and developed a highly distinctive talent,” the statement continued. A Whiter Shade of Pale, his debut song with Procol Harum, is usually recognised as defining the’summer of love,’ yet it couldn’t have been more different from the typical records of the era….
“In Procol’s 50-year international concert career, Gary’s voice and keyboard were the sole defining constant.” He was always the most watchable artist in the concert, even without any stage antics or other gimmicks.”
Brooker’s “charisma was by no means confined to the stage,” according to the band. His kindness to a multilingual family of fans was legendary, and he lighted up each room he visited. He was known for his uniqueness, integrity, and sometimes stubborn eccentricity. He was a great raconteur because of his mordant wit and passion for the ludicrous…
“Above all, he was a loving and dedicated husband to Franky, whom he met in 1965 and married in 1968.”
A Whiter Shade of Pale, co-written with Keith Reid, topped the UK charts two weeks after its publication at the commencement of the “summer of love,” a hippy utopia of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll that angered and scared elder generations.
The record also topped the charts in Europe and the United States, selling more than 10 million copies. It has been covered over 1,000 times by numerous musicians, including Annie Lennox and Billy Joel.
The song’s opening phrase, “We skipped the light fandango,” as well as other lines, generated discussion among critics and fans. Some thought it was about a doomed sexual encounter, while others thought it was about a psychedelic drug experience. Some even thought it was a parody of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
Another member of the band, Matthew Fisher, won his claim in the high court in 2006 that he co-wrote the music for A Whiter Shade of Pale. Brooker contested the ruling, and in 2009, the issue was heard by the law Lords, who unanimously ruled in Fisher’s favour, stating that he was entitled to 40% of the copyright.
Brooker stated in 2014 that Johann Sebastian Bach provided some inspiration for his composition. “Tracing the chordal ingredient reveals a bar or two of Bach’s Air on the G String before veering off.” All it took was a spark. He told Uncut magazine, “I wasn’t actively blending rock with classical; it’s just that Bach’s music was in me.”
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