Gary Brooker, frontman of rock band Procol Harum, dies at 76

Gary Brooker of English rock band Procol Harum has died aged 76

LONDON — Gary Brooker, the Procol Harum frontman who sang one of the most enduring hits of the 1960s, “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, has died. He was 76 years old.

The English rock band said Brooker died at his home on Saturday. He was receiving treatment for cancer.

A statement posted on the band’s official website said: “With the deepest regret, we must announce the passing on February 19, 2022 of Gary Brooker MBE, singer, pianist and composer of Procol Harum, and a shining and irreplaceable light in the world. music industry. .”

London-born Brooker was lead singer and keyboardist in the band, which enjoyed huge success with its debut single, “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” With its baroque-flavored organ solo and mysterious opening line—”We skipped the light fandango, spun the cartwheels through the ground”—the song became one of the signature tunes of “Summer of Love ” from 1967.

It topped the UK Albums Chart for six weeks, was a Top 10 hit in the US and, in 2018, was one of six singles inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2006, former Procol Harum organ player Matthew Fisher sued Brooker over the song’s famous Hammond organ solo. Brooker said he wrote the Bach-inspired tune before Fisher joined the band, but a judge gave Fisher some credit and royalties alongside Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid.

Judge said Fisher’s contribution to the song was “substantial but not, in my opinion, as substantial as Mr. Brooker’s”.

The band never had another hit on the same scale, but Brooker continued to lead Procol Harum for over five decades, through various line-up changes and 13 albums.

Brooker has also released four solo albums and has written and sung for Eric Clapton’s band and with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, and he has toured with Ringo Starr’s band, Ringo’s All-Starrs.

In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II appointed him MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire – for his services to charity.

Corina C. Butler