Procol Harum Singer Gary Brooker Dead at 76, Wrote ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’
Gary Brooker, the singer who put ’60s British rock group Procol Harum on the map with an iconic hit of the ‘Summer of Love,’ is skipping the light fandango in heaven now.
Gary died Saturday after battling cancer according to a statement released by the band. They say their lead singer and pianist died peacefully at his home.
Procol Harum is best remembered for their 1967 hit, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” — it was co-written by Gary, and became an anthem of the famous ‘Summer of Love’ in San Francisco.
The Hammond organ-heavy track is one of those ’60s hits everyone kinda knows when ya hear it — and the lyrics and their meaning have long been debated in rock history.
Just a sample:
“One of sixteen vestal virgins
Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open
They might have just as well’ve been closed”
Most critics and fans agree the haunting song is about a psychedelic or drunken sexual encounter. Let’s face it … there were lots of those back in ’67 when Procol Harum formed!
The song’s been covered by other artists countless times, and the OG single sold more than 10 million copies. The band broke up in 1977, but reunited in the ’90s and continued to perform here and there until 2018.
Brooker’s bandmates said, “The single defining constant of the band’s 50-year career, Gary’s voice and piano playing was legendary and he leaves behind a legacy that will last for generations. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.”
Gary was 76. RIP