Procol Harum frontman Gary Brooker, singer and co-writer of “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” dead at 76

Gus Stewart/Redferns

Gary Brooker, the lead singer, pianist and main songwriter for the veteran British band Procol Harum, died Saturday, February 19, at the age of 76.

A post on Procol Harum’s website reports that Brooker had been receiving treatment for cancer and passed away at his home. The tribute describes Gary as “a brightly-shining, irreplaceable light in the music industry.”

Brooker co-wrote the vast majority of Procol Harum’s songs, mainly with lyricist Keith Reid, including the band’s signature tune, “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”

Released in 1967, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was considered one of the anthems of the Summer of Love, peaking at #1 on the U.K. chart and reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The tune has become one of the most successful singles in history, selling over 10 million copies worldwide.

Procol Harum’s only other major U.S. hit was a 1972 live rendition of the band’s 1967 tune “Conquistador” that was recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and reached #16 on the Hot 100.

Procol Harum was active from 1967 to 1977, and then from 1991 to the present, with Brooker being the band’s only consistent member.

Outside of Procol Harum, Gary also played in Eric Clapton‘s touring band, with Bill Wyman‘s Rhythm Kings and in Ringo Starr‘s All-Starr Band.  He also released a number of solo albums and contributed to various other artists records, including George Harrison‘s All Things Must Pass, Somewhere in England and Gone Troppo, and Clapton’s Another Ticket.

In 2003, Brooker was recognized as a Member of the Order of the British Empire for his charitable services.

Procol Harum’s final album, Novum, was released in 2017.

Gary is survived by his wife of 53 years, Franky. Donations in his name can be made to Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care.

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