Procol Harum

the Pale

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home

A Whiter Shade of Pale

One of Ozzy Osbourne's all-time favourites

Joan May writes: from December 1998 issue of Guitar World magazine apparently a regular feature where a prominent guitarist is asked to put together a 60-minute tape for his listening pleasure.

The Hour of Music that Rocks my World
60 Minutes with Ozzy Osbourne

(excerpt from introduction by Vic Garbarini)
Ozzy: 'A lot of these new bands have the aggression but where's the melody?'

Mr Osbourne says he doesn't want to go off on a rant here, but while he's on the subject: 'I don't fucking run out and buy the latest records by Snot or Sepultura or Megadeth,' he admits. 'That music is not new for me and what I do for a profession and what I like are two different things. For my 60 Minutes tape, I selected music I really like to listen to, the music that turned me on when I was a fan.'

The 12 songs he selected are not in alphabetical order, but the first one is: A Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum [from the album] Procol Harum (Deram, 1967)

'My dad always said, "If you have a great melody you have a great song," and this one has a terrific hook as well. I still get the same thrill listening to this today as I did the first time I heard it. Actually, it's based on Bach's Air on a G String, which goes to show that even 300 years on, a great melody is a great melody. When John Lennon first heard this song, it inspired him to write 'Strawberry Fields Forever.'

If you can impress a Beatle, you must be on the right track.'

Ozzy's other favorites were by: Them, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, The Beatles (3 tunes), Free, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Deep Purple, and Elton John.

Yan Friis writes: Beware of Ozzy, the biter of bats and eater of doves, his memory doesn't serve him well. John Lennon could not possibly have been inspired by A Whiter Shade Of Pale when he wrote Strawberry Fields Forever (during the shooting of How I Won The War in Spain, autumn 1966), neither could he or The Beatles have been inspired by it when they recorded the song (December 1966 January 1967). But it could have been the other way round as Strawberry Fields Forever was released in mid February 1967, four months before the release of A Whiter Shade Of Pale.

Credit where credit's due.

Bob Moselle writes:

23 August 2002: The Fox "News" show, On the Record, with attorney-turned-talk show host Greta Van Susteren, featured an exclusive interview with Ozzy Osbourne. This show was repeated on 2 September.

Asked about his influences, Ozzy cited the Beatles, while acknowledging that they, in turn, had been influenced by the blues greats, Jerry Lee Lewis and other early entrants to R&R. He also expressed a great admiration for Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

Pressed to state what he would listen to when he got home at night, "who he likes," he stated: "Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale, Genesis, Pink Floyd and the Beatles."

We're #1!

From The Times 3 July 2009
Inspired by music: celebrities on the songs that have inspired them
In a new book for the Princes Trust, celebrities reveal the songs that have most inspired them with surprising results

A Whiter Shade of Pale: Procol Harum Ozzy Osbourne

This may surprise most people who are well aware of my complete and utter obsession with the Beatles, but when I sat down and really thought about my favourite song of all time, I think I even shocked myself by choosing the Procol Harum classic, A Whiter Shade of Pale. To this day I do not know what the lyrics are about, but when I hear that haunting melody on the Hammond organ I immediately become transfixed.

I remember about four or five years ago I was in my home studio with my producer, working up a list of songs that I wanted to record for an album of rock covers which we later titled Uncovered. A Whiter Shade of Pale was at the very top of my list, when I was made aware of the fact that a close musical associate of mine had just recorded the song for his new album. It would have been odd for me to record it then so I took my pen and put a big fat line through the title. Oh well . . . Im hoping to get around to recording the song one day for a movie soundtrack or maybe just for my own pleasure!

Ozzy Osbourne in the UK's The Independent (15 May 2013) [scans here]

Some of the world's biggest music stars reveal the records that changed their life

A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum. It taught me when a song is perfect, not to attempt a poor copy.  Its been covered by so many people and I was tempted but its been over-covered, so I decided not to. And Ive learnt I was so right. Its difficult with covers, even doing one of your own material.

More about AWSoP

More superstar esteem for Procol Harum

More Features at BtP

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home