Procol Harum frontman Gary Brooker, who led the band throughout their 55-year history, and co-wrote and sang their 1967 classic “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” died at his home from cancer on Saturday, Feb. 19. He was 76.
“He lit up any room he entered, and his kindness to a multilingual family of fans was legendary,” Procol Harum wrote in a group statement. “He was notable for his individuality, integrity, and occasionally stubborn eccentricity. His mordant wit, and appetite for the ridiculous, made him a priceless raconteur (and his surreal inter-song banter made a fascinating contrast with the gravitas of Procol Harum’s performances).”
Brooker is best known for his work in Procol Harum, but he also toured heavily with Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr, and recorded with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and countless other legends.
“His first single with Procol Harum, 1967’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale,’ is widely regarded as defining ‘The Summer of Love’, yet it could scarcely have been more different from the characteristic records of that era,” Procol Harum’s statement read. “Nor was it characteristic of his own writing. Over 13 albums, Procol Harum never sought to replicate it, preferring to forge a restlessly progressive path, committed to looking forward, and making each record a ‘unique entertainment’.”
“Gary’s voice and piano were the single defining constant of Procol’s fifty-year international concert career,” the band continued. “Without any stage antics or other gimmicks he was invariably the most watchable musician in the show (he played several other instruments in the studio).”
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