During his performance at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium on Saturday night (February 26), Joel delivered a moving rendition of the 1967 single to celebrate the life of Brooker, who died on February 19 at the age of 76.
Featured on the US version of Procol Harum’s self-titled debut album, ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ is one of the most commercially successful singles in history, having sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
It’s a song that Joel has praised frequently, and covered on numerous occasions throughout his career, including a snippet during a Cincinnati concert in 2021 and a solo take during a Town Hall Q&A and concert with Howard Stern in 2014.
His performance of the song in Vegas in honour of Brooker followed a performance of his own ‘Only The Good Die Young. You can watch Joel’s tribute below:
Billy Joel pays tribute to Gary Brooker of Procol Harum with "A Whiter Shade of Pale." Just one song of a loaded 2.5 hour set at @AllegiantStadm #Vegas #BillyJoel #ProcolHarum @billyjoel pic.twitter.com/2pyX3cveRM
— Rob Kachelriess (@rkachelriess) February 27, 2022
Upon hearing the news of Brooker’s death earlier in the month, Joel took to social media to play his respects.
“Sorry to hear about the passing of Gar Brooker,” he tweeted alongside a picture of the Procol Harum frontman sat at a piano. “Rest in Peace.”
Sorry to hear about the passing of Gary Brooker.
Rest in Peace.
– Billy Joel
[Pictured: Gary Brooker, founder and lead singer of Procol Harum] pic.twitter.com/C2VbXjviHA
— Billy Joel (@billyjoel) February 22, 2022
Prior to his death, the pianist, composer and lyricist was being treated for cancer. He died peacefully at home 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.”
Meanwhile, Dave Grohl has shared a cover of Billy Joel‘s ’70s hit ‘Big Shot’, arriving as part of his and producer Greg Kurstin’s ‘Festival Of The Lights’ cover series.