Songwriting pianist Billy Joel paid tribute to Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker by performing Brooker’s signature number ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale‘ in public. Joel was performing at the Las Vegas Allegiant Stadium on Saturday, February 26th, when he delivered a stirring rendition of the 1967 number. ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ is one of the most successful songs ever released and accrued 10 million copies in sales figures worldwide.
Joel had previously issued a statement on social media as a way of paying tribute to Brooker. Joel hoped his fellow pianist would “rest in peace, following a battle with cancer.
Procol Harum issued the following statement following his passing. “Gary’s voice and piano were the single defining constant of Procol’s 50-year international concert career,” the statement reads.” Without any stage antics or other gimmicks he was invariably the most watchable musician in the show.”
The statement on the website continued to highlight the pianist’s ability to communicate with his many fans, and Brooker exhibited a passion for his legacy that veered far beyond the realm of professional courtesy. His death made an impact on the group, many of whom worked with Brooker through a variety of iterations. Brooker was best known for his piano playing, but he was also a singer of some repute. The website hailed his long-lasting and enduring marriage to Françoise (“Franky”) Riedo.
Brooker is co-credited on ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ and was widely considered to be the man who composed the melody until he was challenged by Matthew Fisher, who claimed that he co-wrote the music for the song. In 2005 Fisher was awarded 40% of the composers’ share of the music copyright and was granted all subsequent royalties. His name now stands beside Brooker’s and Keith Reid’s.
In other Billy Joel related news, the American pianist recently declared Taylor Swift the younger generation’s “Beatles”. Joel praised her songcraft, her commitment to her art, and the commitment she holds to the realisation of her concepts in an interview with USA Today. The writer of ‘Piano Man’ feels that she will be celebrated and listened to in years to come.