Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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Procol Harum singer wins royalty court battle

The Independent • 4 April 2008


Rock star Gary Brooker today won his court battle to reclaim full royalty rights to his massive worldwide hit A Whiter Shade of Pale.

The Court of Appeal ruled by a majority that although Matthew Fisher, the musician who contributed the organ theme to the song first released in 1967, was entitled to co-authorship, he should not
receive any royalties.

Lord Justice Mummery said in a ruling today that Fisher, now a computer programmer from Croydon, south London, was "guilty of excessive and inexcusable delay in asserting his claim".

Brooker, 62, lead singer of Procol Harum, went to the Court of Appeal last October after Fisher, 60, won a High Court ruling that he was entitled to 40 per cent of the musical copyright.

The claim to joint ownership was made nearly 40 years after the recording of the song that sold 10 million copies and became one of the anthems of the 1967 Summer of Love.

A Whiter Shade of Pale has earned the status of an enduring classic and still earns substantial royalties for the owners of the copyright – originally Mr Brooker and the lyric writer Keith Reid.

In 2004, performing rights group Phonographic Performance Limited named it the most-played record by British broadcasting of the past 70 years.

More than 800 recorded cover versions by other artists are known.

Mr Fisher, a classically-trained musician, had claimed a half share from Brooker for his Hammond organ theme based on Bach fugues.

He was awarded the lesser amount by Mr Justice Blackburne in the High Court in 2006 because the judge found that although Mr Fisher's contribution to A Whiter Shade of Pale was "substantial", it
was not as great as that of the singer.

The judge also rejected Fisher's claim for back royalties, which some sources had estimated at about 1 million.

Mr Brooker, who still fronts Procol Harum, is still fighting with Mr Fisher over who should pay the estimated 500,000 legal costs of the action.

Lord Justice Mummery said today that the costs issue would be decided at a later date together with an application to take the case to the House of Lords for a final appeal at the highest court in
the land.

 



More about the AWSoP lawsuit

 

 

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