Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Procol Harum singer Gary Brooker dead at 76

Procol Harum singer Gary Brooker has died at the age of 76.

“With the deepest regret, we must announce the death on 19 February 2022 of Gary Brooker MBE, singer, pianist and composer of Procol Harum, and a brightly-shining, irreplaceable light in the music industry,” announced the band in a joint statement. “Aged 76, he had been receiving treatment for cancer, but died peacefully at home.

“From his earliest onstage duets with his musician father, through his youthful recording career with Southend’s The Paramounts, Gary exhibited and developed a highly-individual talent. 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.

“Nor was it characteristic of his own writing,”
they continued. “Over thirteen 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. 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).”

Brooker co-founded Procol Harum with songwriter Keith Reid in Southend-on-Sea, UK in 1967; the pair launched the progressive rock band with a lineup that included guitarist Ray Royer, bassist David Knights, keyboardist Matthew Fisher and drummer Bobby Harrison.

The outfit released “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” in the spring of 1967; the instant classic hit No. 1 in at least a dozen countries, including a six-week run atop the UK charts.

Lineup changes followed the song’s international success, with Brooker’s Paramounts bandmate Robin Trower among those on board for the group’s self-titled album debut, which arrived later that same year. The project also included the hit “Homburg”, and the classic track "Conquistador"; a live version of that song with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra would become a hit 5 years later as part of a 1972 live release.

Procol Harum would issue two more albums – “Shine On Brightly” (1968) and “A Salty Dog” (1969) – before the 60s came to close, and they would continue album chart success into the mid-1970s through the next three studio records before declining sales led them to disband in 1977.

Brooker would launch a solo career in 1979 while joining Eric Clapton’s band for his “Another Ticket” album and through to 1981, after which the singer issued two more record in the 1980s.

Procol Harum would regroup in 1991 for a new album, “The Prodigal Stranger”, and return to the live concert circuit for a few years before limiting their tour schedules moving forward; they would release their 13th and latest record, “Novum”, in 2017.

Read the band's full statement regarding Brooker’s passing at