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Procol Harum frontman Gary Brooker dead at 76


Gary Brooker, songwriter and lead singer for legendary British rock band Procol Harum, has passed away at the age of 76. Brooker had been receiving treatment for cancer at the time of his death.

“With the deepest regret we must announce the death on 19 February 2022 of Gary Brooker MBE,” Procol Harum announced in a statement.

“He lit up any room he entered, and his kindness to a multilingual family of fans was legendary,” Procol Harum say on their website. “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 co-wrote and song the band’s biggest hit, 1967’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, which became a cultural touchstone of the psychedelic 1960s rock scene. Bridging the worlds of classical music and progressive rock, ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ was a number one hit in the UK and a top five hit in America, solidifying Procol Harum’s place in pop music history.

‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ was the winner of ‘Best British Pop Single 1952–1977’ at the first-ever BRIT Awards in 1977, a category that later evolved into British Single of the Year. The track was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 and was inducted into the special “Singles” category of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the category’s inaugural class of 2018. The song has been cited by the British Phonographic Performance Limited as being the most-played British single in history, with the single having sold more than ten million copies worldwide.

Brooker himself became an in-demand session and touring musician after Procol Harem originally broke up in 1977. He was a member of Eric Clapton’s touring band during the ’70s and ’80s, also featuring on a number of albums from George Harrison including All Things Must Pass. Brooker later toured with Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings in between stints with a reformed Procol Harum.