Procol Harum

Beyond
the Pale 

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Gary Brooker, MBE

29 May 1945, Hackney, London


Gary was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours on 14 June 2003 in recognition of his charitable services. His message to the website is here. The newspaper reports mentioned his musical activities primarily, of course. The Guardian referred to him as the 'singer / songwriter and founder of the seminal band Procol Harum'. Quite rightly so. Pictures of Gary and Franky at the Palace are here.

Main instrument
Piano, vocal: also banjo, harmonica, koto ...  picture of Gary playing guitar with Procol is here

Gary was taught the piano by Ronald Meachen; in 1967 GB told an NME interviewer that he also played cornet and trombone. See here for a moment's Brooker trumpeting.

He was born at Hackney Hospital, 230 Homerton High Street, Hackney, E8, according to Pete Frame's Rockin' Around Britain (Omnibus Press 1989).

Recordings by Gary's father, Harry Brooker: see here and here: review here; Gary's mother, see here

 

A Salty Dog

A Whiter Shade of Pale (45 RPM)

Procol Harum

Shine on Brightly

Grand Hotel

Home

Broken Barricades

Live with Edmonton Symphony

The Prodigal Stranger

Exotic Birds and Fruit

Procol's Ninth

Something Magic

Four Brooker solo albums

The Symphonic Music
of Procol Harum

One More Time

The Well's on Fire

Live in Ledreborg (CD, DVD, download) DVD: Live in Copenhagen DVD: Live at the Union Chapel One Eye to the Future
Spirit of Nøkken
MMX
... Some Long Road ...

DVD: I'm Coming Home: The Paramounts' Reunion, 2005: click here to order


Tunes Music Network on Gary Brooker

Left: Gary Brooker as the October pin-up for 1967 in Jackie magazine (thanks, Charlie)

Gary in wide-ranging conversation with Roland from BtP

Gary's work, live and on record, with Kate Bush in 1982 onwards

Links to many interviews

Gary on two Colin John CDs (he's also on the Lonnie Donegan CD, Muleskinner Blues)

Gary poses naked for charity GB tells all about his personal finances

Brooker on Swedish TV, 1 February 1999

Gary Brooker, 'Artist in Profile' at London's Barbican, December 1999

The Commander's Testimonials:
Brooker on his fellow-Procolers

Gary sings an Ian MacDonald / Peter Sinfield song on CD

Major interview from Shine On

Addicted to Noise Birthday: PH's GB

Some 45 picture sleeves

'As always PH takes the uncommercial road': a 1996 Radio Azzurra interview with Gary

Gary in a long and absorbing interview with ClassicRockPage.com

The Parrot Inn: Gary Brooker's pub

Gary makes a Silver Jubilee clock

Brooker on Dutch TV, 13 February 1998

Gary introduces some of his favourite songs on German Radio, October 1999: comments on his own work too.

Fly Fishing in Clear Waters,
which Gary composed and directed.

Gary's 1999 CV

Gary introduces some of his favourite songs on British Radio, Winter 2014.

Brooker plays Hooker (John Lee, that is)

Gary Brooker's song-introductions in concert

Hitting the Fan: film with Brooker music

Gary Brooker biography (from a Ringo Starr homepage): see also here

A whimsical pseudonym

Gary playing at the Bosnia Benefit, NYC, 21 November 1995 Gary played AWSoP at Mick Ronson's memorial concert (order CD here)

Gary Brooker inducted to the RockWalk

Gary's World Wildlife Fund track Gary's inscrutable exhortations
about the Starship Enterprise
Gary with Paul McCartney's Rockestra (1979) Many pages: Delta: Gary's commission from the Royal Danish Ballet Gary and Franky's wedding
Many pages: Gary's 1998 Brass Band commission, Le Bourdon des Alpes 'Our Procol Haven' from the UK's Daily Mail 
Gary writes about railways Gary and the Red Nose Day 2009
song-writing/recording
Brooker on the 60s and acid A 24 year-old with a Brooker tattoo
Auction of a guitar signed by Gary,
Eric Clapton and Mike Rutherford
Gary's page at NNDB – did you
know he had a Grammy?
Gary's pro-Haïti show in
 France, February 2010
GB's formal music qualifications
Gary collaborates with The Drifters Gary plays the hoover – October 2011 Gary hospitalised in South Africa, May 2012
Brooker the stars' sideman Gary Brooker in a 1970 Belgian fine-art portrait Gary Brooker's BASCA gold badge
Gary Brooker invites fans to help him
with a lampshade project
Peter and the Wolf: Gary Brooker learns to fly ... 2014 interview particularly looking at AWSoP

Gary Brooker MBE with Ray Davies of The Kinks and the actor John Hurt, pictured on 23 May 2012
at London's Royal Academy, where many prominent figures from the past sixty years'
explosion in British creative life had gathered
to mark the imminent jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.


Peter Cohen writes to BtP: 'Last year I wrote the e-mail below to The Times. This year I'm delighted to say he has been included (as shown right).'
 
To: letters@thetimes.co.uk
Sent: 29/05/2015 Subj: Gary Brooker
 
Sir,
 
Gary Brooker, lead singer and pianist with rock group Procol Harum, celebrated his 70th Birthday today, 29th May. I was very disappointed this was not recognised in your ' Birthdays' section of today's newspaper.
 
He was largely responsible for writing the music for the classic single A Whiter Shade of Pale which topped the Charts in 1967 and has since been played more times on British radio than any other single.
 
In my opinion he is an unsung national treasure and has never received the recognition deserved. He still leads Procol Harum in concerts both at home and abroad, most recently in the UK at the Dominion Theatre, London last November and will be performing at Ewhurst, Surrey next month. He received an MBE in 2003 for his services to charity.
 
I hope in future years you will see fit to include him.
 
Yours etc
Peter Cohen

Gary plays AWSoP with the SAS Band at Chiddingfold. 

Photograph above by Stuart Catterson, © Bridge Recordings: click on the picture to visit the SAS Band website

Photo below: GB in 1973 at the time of Procol''s 'Midnight Special' broadcast from Biba's in London

Illustration left: GB in birthday company, The Times, May 2016

Click on this little picture to download a quicktime video that features GB along with others at the Heinkeken Night of the proms 1993 singing All You Need is Love. John O tells us that 'the segment features Gary prominently, with a bit of Sting, definitely way cool, covers about 2 verses ... , but it's 4.9 MB. Our illustration is a still from the video, of course

 

 

Other bands Gary has played in ...

The Paramounts

Liquorice John Death ...

No Stiletto Shoes

The Gary Brooker Ensemble

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings

Ringo Starr's All-Starr band

Eric Clapton's Band (book excerpts here) : more info on this Clapton website.

Willie and the Poor Boys

Gary's non-PH / Paramounts sessions (up to 1986) 

British Rock Symphony

Gary Brooker band (1983)

SAS Band

Rock Meets Classic

He was also backed by Jethro Tull at a Friends of the Earth benefit in October 1994

Godalming Town Band / Sinfold Concert Band, 2011

The Palers' Band: 2006 in Denmark, 2013 in Germany,
2014 in the USA, 2016 in Holland

 


More Procol personnel


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