LONDON (Associated Press) — Gary Brooker, the lead singer of Procol Harum who sang one of the most successful songs of the 1960s, “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, has passed away. 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 great regret, we must announce on February 19, 2022, the death of Gary Brooker MBE, singer, pianist and composer for Procol Harum, and an irreplaceable shining light in the music industry.”
London-born Brooker was a singer and keyboardist with the band, which achieved huge success with their first single, “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. With its enigmatic, solo opening line with a baroque flair—”We’ve skipped a light fandango, we spin the wagon wheels on the ground”—the song became one of the signature tunes of 1967’s “Summer of Love.”
It topped the UK album 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, Matthew Fisher, the former organist of Brockle Harum, sued Brooker over Hammond’s famous single. Brooker said he wrote the Bach-inspired tune before Fisher joined the band, but the judge awarded Fisher a share of the credit and royalties alongside Brooker and songwriter Keith Reed.
The judge said Fisher’s contribution to the song was “large but not, in my estimation, as great as that of Mr. Brooker”.
The band has had no further success on the same scale, but Brooker has continued to lead Procol Harum for more than five decades, through various line-up changes and 13 albums.
Brooker has also released four solo albums, wrote and sang for Eric Clapton and with Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, and toured with Ringo Starr’s All-Starrs.
In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II made him a member of the MBE Medal for Services to Charity.