Musical palate cleanser, another one gone edition

I’m embarrassed to say I missed this news when it first came out last week.

Gary Brooker, the singer and pianist of the early progressive rock group Procol Harum, who co-wrote songs including “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” the improbable but overpowering hit during the 1967 Summer of Love, died on Saturday at his home in Surrey, England. He was 76.

Mr. Brooker had been receiving treatment for cancer, the band said in a statement confirming his death.

With his grainy, weathered-sounding voice and a piano style steeped in gospel, classical music, blues and the British music hall, Mr. Brooker led Procol Harum in songs that mixed pomp and whimsy, orchestral grandeur and rock drive. He composed nearly all of Procol Harum’s music; Keith Reid, who did not perform with the band, provided lyrics that invoked literary and historical allusions and spun tall tales, sometimes at the same time.

Although “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was both its first and biggest hit, and the band steadfastly avoided showmanship, Procol Harum sustained a five-decade career. It recorded and toured until 1977, and it regrouped sporadically in lineups led by Mr. Brooker to continue making albums until 2017.

Mr. Brooker, the band’s statement said, “was notable for his individuality, integrity, and occasionally stubborn eccentricity.”

One of rock’s great voices in an underappreciated band, Brooker was a favorite of mine.  PH had a few hits, but my favorite vocal of his comes from a song that wasn’t, “A Salty Dog”.

It’s easy to overlook how that band could rock, which is strange, considering Robin Trower was its lead guitarist and BJ Wilson was a fantastic drummer.  Here’s a Trower composition, “Whiskey Train”, that shows off the other side of the band and Brooker:

And one more, post-Trower — one of the great, bitter breakup songs of all time:

This dying shit sucks, man.



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11 responses to “Musical palate cleanser, another one gone edition

  1. Bulldawg Bill

    Dying is vastly over rated. I tried it once. It’ll fuck up your whole day.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Illini84

    Lars von Trier – Breaking the waves / Whiter Shade Of Pale – Procol Harum


  3. cowetadawg

    The news of the litany of musical legends that have passed on these last few years has been tough to absorb. Makes me appreciate the ones we have left all the more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Russ

    I always liked Conquistador recorded live with the Edmonton Symphony. I think this song and WSOP must have pigeon-holed them. For me, Trower never really took off until he went solo, but obviously he had an impact on the band.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. RangerRuss

    “This dying shit sucks, man.”
    Death ain’t much. Just inevitable. Prepare accordingly.
    “Enjoy every sandwich.” And every good tune.