Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale

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 Let me have my writer's share of Pale

Pravina Patel, Mail on Sunday, 26 June 2005


Brooker and Reid in eclipse, in this illustration.Picture Caption: COURT ACTION: Matthew Fisher, second from left, with Procol Harum in 1969

With its haunting, instantly recognisable melody and bewildering lyrics, it was a song that defined a whole era. But now, nearly 40 years on, the man who provided the rolling baroque organ chords on A Whiter Shade Of Pale is demanding a slice of the action.

It was always assumed that the number, which hit No 1 in 1967, was written by Procol Harum's frontman Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid.

But Matthew Fisher the band's keyboard player, claims he co-wrote the classic and wants a share of the copyright - plus some of the cash from ten million sales. One expert believes it could have made 500,000 in royalties.

Fed up with watching the song repeatedly topping 'best-ever single' polls, as the years turned to decades, he decided to act. Mr Fisher, now 59, and a computer programmer in Croydon, South London, said: "It's taken me this long to find a firm of specialist lawyers good enough to take up my fight. But I have been advised not to say anything more."

In an interview four years ago, Mr Fisher said he was the brains behind the opening bars. He has now called in lawyers Jens Hills & Co to launch a legal action against Gary Brooker and Onward Music Limited.

But on the Procol Harum official [sic!] website Mr Brooker said: "A Whiter Shade Of Pale was written by Keith Reid and me before Matthew even joined the band. 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 it."    

Procol Harum broke up in 1977 but reformed briefly [sic] in the Nineties.

(thanks, Charlie Allison, for finding and transcribing this)


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