Procol Harum

the Pale 

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Procol Harum Diary

Contributions by Mattias Gidlöf

Work in progress: please mail us with contributions for the Procol Harum diary


June 28 Bobby Harrison born, London, England


Mar 9 Robin Trower born Southend, Essex, England

May 29 Gary Brooker, born in Hackney, London, England

June 28 Dave Knights born, London, England

Aug 29 Chris Copping born Southend, Essex, England


March 7 Matthew Fisherborn

October 19 Keith Reid born


Mar 18 Barrie J Wilson born


Mar 30 Dave Ball born


The Paramounts Gary Brooker (pianist) Robin Trower (guitarist) Chris Copping (bassist) Bob Scott (singer) Mick Brownlee (drummer)

'After achieving a certain degree of success at local youth clubs and dances, covering established rock & roll hits, Brooker took over the vocalist spot from the departed Scott, and the group continued working after its members graduated - by 1962, they were doing formidable (by British standards) covers of American R&B, and got a residency at the Shades Club in Southend.' (Bruce Eder All Music Guide)


The Paramounts Gary Brooker (pianist/singer) Robin Trower (guitarist) BJ Wilson (drummer) Diz Derrick (bassist)'...Gary Brooker decided to develop his career as a songwriter. This led Brooker into a partnership with lyricist Keith Reid (b. Oct. 19, 1945), whom he met through a mutual acquaintance, R&B impresario Guy Stevens. By the spring of 1967, they had a considerable body of songs prepared and began looking for a band to play them. An advertisement in Melody Maker led to the formation of a band initially called the Pinewoods, with Brooker as pianist/singer, Matthew Fisher (b. Mar. 7, 1946, Croydon, Surrey) on organ, Ray Royer (b. Oct. 8, 1945) on guitar, Dave Knights (b. June 28, 1945, London) on bass, and Bobby Harrison (b. June 28, 1943, London) on drums.' (Bruce Eder All Music Guide)


The Paramounts opened for the Rolling Stones, and for The Beatles in 1965 during their final tour of Britain.


The Pinewoods Gary Brooker (pianist/singer/songwriter), Keith Reid (lyricist), Matthew Fisher (organist), Ray Royer (guitarist), Dave Knights (bassist), Bobby Harrison (drummer)

'Their first recording, produced by Denny Cordell, was of a piece of surreal Reid poetry called 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale', which Brooker set to music loosely derived from Johann Sebastian Bach's 'Air on a G String' from the Suite No. 3 in D Major.' (Bruce Eder All Music Guide)

[Does this mean that AWSoP was recorded by 'The Pinewoods']

'By the time this recording is ready for release, The Pinewoods have been re-christened 'Procol Harum', a name derived, as alternate stories tell it, either from Stevens's cat's birth certificate, Procol Harun, or a Latin 'procul' for 'far from these things' (hey, it was the mid-1960s, and either is possible).

In early May of 1967, the group performed 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' at the Speakeasy Club in London, while Cordell arranged for a release of the single on English Decca (London Records in America), on the company's Deram label.' (Bruce Eder All Music Guide) June 4 Procol Harum make their concert debut at London's Saville Theatre on the same bill as Jimi Hendrix.

'... the prototypal Procol Harum made its concert debut in London opening for Jimi Hendrix at the Saville Theater on June 4, 1967. Four days later, 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' reached the top of the British charts for the first of a six-week run in the top spot, making Procol Harum only the sixth recording act in the history of British popular music to reach the number one spot on its first release (not even the Beatles did that). The following month, the record reached number five on the American charts, with sales in the United States rising to over a million copies (and six million copies worldwide).' (Bruce Eder All Music Guide) Epstein presents the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Denny Laine and his Electric String Band (in their first ever appearance), Procol Harum (full concert début), and the Chiffons, in two houses in a Saville Theatre Sunday presentation.

Morning: before the show, Procol Harum are told they are number 1 in the next week's chart with 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale'. As only present they received a bottle of champagne from Brian. After the concert, it is announced that Procol Harum will return to the Saville Theatre to headline in a Brian Epstein Sunday presentation.

June 12 A Whiter Shade Of Pale tops the UK charts

July 15 It's announced that guitarist Roy Royer and drummer Bobby Harrison have quit Procol Harum, their replacements being Robin Trower and Barry 'BJ' Wilson, formerly of The Paramounts.

'The same month that the record peaked in the United States, Royer and Harrison were sacked and replaced by Brooker's former Paramounts band-mates Robin Trower and BJ Wilson on guitar and drums, respectively.' (Bruce Eder All Music Guide) Procol Harum (July, 1967)

Gary Brooker (pianist / singer / songwriter) Keith Reid (lyricist) Matthew Fisher (organist) Dave Knights (bassist) Robin Trower (guitarist) BJ Wilson (drummer)

October: The single 'Homburg' released in October of 1967 on EMI's Regal Zonophone label, got to number six on the British charts.

The group's debut album, entitled Procol Harum, managed to reached number 47 in America


March 26 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' won the International 'Song of the Year'-award at the 13th Annual Ivor Novello Awards.

'A new contract for the group was secured with A&M Records in America (they remained on Regal Zonophone in England), and by November, a second album, Shine on Brightly, highlighted by an 18-minute epic entitled 'In Held 'Twas I,' was finished and in the stores, and rose to number 24 in America but failed to chart in England.' (Bruce Eder All Music Guide)

December 28 Procol were playing at the Miami Pop Festival in front of 100,000 people on a bill which included Canned Heat, Chuck Berry, Fleetwood Mac and The Turtles.


March David Knights and Matthew Fisher exited the line-up shortly after finishing work on the group's new album, A Salty Dog, preferring management and production to the performing side of the music business. Knights's departure opened the way for bassist Chris Copping to join Procol Harum. (Bruce Eder All Music Guide)April 9 Procol Harum plays at The Palm Springs Pop Festival, California, on a bill including Ike and Tina Turner and John Mayall.

June A Salty Dog was issued. It reached No 32 in the US and went on to climb to No 27 in the UK, where the title track also reached No 44 in the Singles Chart.

June 22 they appeared at the Toronto Park Festival in Canada, alongside Steppenwolf, The Band, Blood Sweat and Tears and Chuck Berry.

August 1 they cemented their festival reputation further at the Atlanta City Pop Festival, New Jersey before well over 100,000 people on a bill that included Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Byrds.


June Home was released.

July 3  They played at the 3 day Atlanta Pop Festival in Byron, Georgia, before 200,000 people alongside Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers Band, Jethro Tull and Captain Beefheart.

August 28, they appeared on the 2nd day of the Isle of Wight festival.


July Broken Barricades was issued (they were now on Chrysalis in England).

August 6 Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Da Camera Singers in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It made No 48 in the UK in May 1982


August  Procol Harum released the single Souvenir Of London / Toujours L'Amour (Chrysalis CHS2015); the A-side was banned from BBC Radio One airplay because the words were said to refer to venereal disease.

Matthew Fisher releases the single Suzanne / Separation (RCS 2406)


May Exotic Birds and Fruit issued


Procol's Ninth issued

16 March Procol Harum headlined the 'Over The Rainbow' closing down concert at London's Rainbow Theatre along with Kevin Coyne and John Martyn on 1975


April Something Magic issued

May 15 'A farewell concert at New York's Academy of Music on May 15, 1977. Only five months later, the band was back together for a one-off performance of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale,' which had taken on a life of its own separate from the group - the song was named joint winner (along with 'Bohemian Rhapsody') of the Best British Pop Single 1952-1977, at the Britannia Awards to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee, and the band performed it live at the awards ceremony.' (Bruce Eder All Music Guide)


August Brooker reformed Procol Harum and The Prodigal Stranger was recorded and released. Read Bruce Eder here

The Procol Harum Birthday Calendar is here

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