'Whiter Shade of Pale' band feud
CNN, 13 November 2006
LONDON, England Members of rock group Procol Harum clashed in court on
Monday over the ownership of their seminal 1967 hit A Whiter Shade of
Pale, which has sold about 10 million copies worldwide.
Former band keyboard player Matthew Fisher says he wrote the organ music to
the song and so is entitled to joint authorship of the track alongside lead
singer Gary Brooker, who is credited with its copyright.
Fisher is suing Brooker and Onward Music Ltd in a claim which could be worth
up to £1 million ($1.9 million).
The High Court reverberated to the tune, whose accompaniment is based on
Johann Sebastian Bach's works including Air on a G String, and will
be treated to a live performance on an electronic organ by Fisher when he
takes the witness stand.
Judge William Blackburne may also study the music in his spare time to allow
him to make an informed decision.
"It may be that at some stage, after hours, I may want to work through the
sheet music evidence," he said.
Opening the case, Fisher's lawyer Iain Purvis said the song "defined the
'Summer of Love.'"
"Mr. Fisher seeks a declaration that he is entitled to a share, we say an
equal share, in the musical copyright for the song as originally recorded,"
he told the court.
Brooker, who was in court with Fisher, has dismissed the claims.
"A Whiter Shade of Pale was written by Keith Reid and me before
Matthew even joined the band," Brooker said last year.
"I am shocked and dismayed that after Matthew had worked with us quite
happily over the course of 40 years without him once alleging that his role
on A Whiter Shade of Pale was anything other than as a musician, it
is only now that he claims he recalls writing part of the song.
"I think people can draw their own conclusions from this."
The hearing is due to last a week, and the judge is expected to give his
decision in writing at a later date.