Gary Brooker, the lead singer of Procol Harum, has died aged 76.
The pianist, composer and lyricist was being treated for cancer. He died peacefully at home over the weekend according to a statement on Procol Harum’s website.
The statement described Brooker as “a brightly shining, irreplaceable light in the music industry”, adding that he “exhibited and developed a highly individual talent.
“His first single with Procol Harum, 1967’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, is widely regarded as defining the ‘summer of love’, yet it could scarcely have been more different from the characteristic records of that era.
“Gary’s voice and piano were the single defining constant of Procol’s 50-year international concert career. Without any stage antics or other gimmicks he was invariably the most watchable musician in the show.”
The statement went on to add that Brooker’s “charisma was by no means confined to the stage.”
It added: “He lit up any room he entered, and his kindness to a multilingual family of fans was legendary. He was notable for his individuality, integrity, and occasionally stubborn eccentricity. His mordant wit, and appetite for the ridiculous, made him a priceless raconteur.
“He was above all a devoted and loyal husband to Franky, whom he met in 1965 and married in 1968.”
The group’s standout hit, ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, went to Number 1 in the UK charts two weeks after its release at the start of the ‘summer of love’ in 1967. The song also dominated the US and European charts, selling more than ten million copies.
You can see some of the tributes to Brooker here:
With the deepest regret we must announce the death on 19 February 2022 of Gary Brooker MBE.https://t.co/6M9Xby5k3N
— Procol Harum (@ProcolHarum1) February 22, 2022
Gary Brooker MBE, Procol Harum frontman and co-writer of the group's 1967 hit Whiter Shade of Pale, has sadly died aged 76.
Our thoughts are with his fans, family and friends at this time. pic.twitter.com/QiIuMXLmXn
— Official Charts (@officialcharts) February 22, 2022
Story goes that someone once asked Gary Brooker what the famously opaque lyrics of Whiter Shade of Pale actually meant. He thought for a second and said, “They mean I’ll never have to work for a living again."
— Andrew Noakes (@AndrewNoakes) February 22, 2022
The salty dog has passed. My heart goes out to his wondrous wife, Franky.
RIP Gary Brooker.
I was in love with Procol Harum from the moment I heard them.
Gary was a genius and along with miraculous lyricist, Keith Reid, their work is heavenly.
Their friendship was a dream to me. pic.twitter.com/ATE0FSWeTI
— Richard Lewis (@TheRichardLewis) February 22, 2022
R. I. P. Gary Brooker who has skipped the light fandango. Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade Of Pale wrong footed the pop music loving public with its dreamy, powerful eccentricity & it took the Beatles with All You Need Is Love to dislodge them from No. 1 in the 1967 summer of love. pic.twitter.com/ZifCderRdk
— Martin Knight (@MartinKnight_) February 22, 2022
Rock in peace the great Gary Brooker https://t.co/8dx8WIRjbZ
— Mike Scott (@MickPuck) February 22, 2022
So sad to hear about Gary Brooker. He was a lovely guy and made incredible music that will live on forever pic.twitter.com/y8z5RJFBek
— Bonnie Tyler (@BonnieTOfficial) February 22, 2022
Gary Brooker RIP. What a voice. I went to see PH every single time I could and I’m so glad I did. pic.twitter.com/ml6kWMMtZa
— Wesley Stace (@WesleyStace) February 22, 2022
RIP Gary Brooker. I’m too pissed off to speak right now.
— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) February 22, 2022
This is a breaking news story – more to follow