Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale 

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'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.
 

More about the AWSoP lawsuit

 

 

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