A Whiter Shade of Pale singer Gary Brooker loses cancer battle at 76

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    The rocker, who died at 76 from cancer on Saturday, shot to fame with the 1967 hit, famed for its organ intro. The band’s website said: “Gary’s charisma was by no means confined to the stage. He lit up any room he entered and his kindness to a multilingual family of fans was legendary.

    “He was notable for his individuality, integrity and occasionally stubborn eccentricity.”

    A Whiter Shade of Pale topped the charts for six weeks and reached number five in the US Billboard Hot 100.

    The track, which Brooker wrote with Keith Reid and Matthew Fisher, and on which he played keyboard, is one of the defining songs of the 1960s, selling more than 10 million copies.

    It has been covered more than 1,000 times and featured at the beginning of cult classic 1987 film Withnail and I, starring Richard E Grant. The song was named joint winner alongside Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody as Best British Pop Single of the last 25 years at the Brit Awards in 1977.

    Procol Harum were formed in 1967 in Southend, Essex. London-born Brooker – who was also a prize-winning angler, pub owner, painter and inventor – was the band’s only continuous member.

    The band’s website said: “A Whiter Shade of Pale is widely regarded as defining The Summer of Love.

    “Gary’s voice and piano were the single defining constant of Procol’s 50-year international concert career.

    “Without any stage antics or other gimmicks he was invariably the most watchable musician in the show.”

    The multi-instrumentalist, who got an MBE in 2003, married au pair Francoise “Franky” Riedo, in 1968.

    The band said: “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.”

    Published at Wed, 23 Feb 2022 14:04:52 +0000

    A Whiter Shade of Pale singer Gary Brooker loses cancer battle at 76

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