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Gary Brooker RIP

Gary Brooker, best known as the leader and chief songwriter of the band Procol Harum, has died at the age of 76. Brooker founded Procol Harum in 1967 with Keith Reid (lyrics), Matthew Fisher (organ), Ray Roper (guitar), and David Knights (bass), and presided over many versions of the group over the subsequent decades.

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-02-22

Brooker was born May 29, 1945 in London, and founded The Paramounts in 1962 with his friend Robin Trower. The group achieved some success on the live scene, but failed to make a dent with any recordings; they disbanded in 1966. Brooker then decided he wanted to focus on songwriting, and met lyricist Keith Reid, who became a life-long writing partner. After being unable to interest other artists in their songs, the pair decided to form their own group, leading to the beginning of Procol Harum.

Sporting a name borrowed from the name of an acquaintance's cat, the group recorded their first single, "A Whiter Shade of Pale," in 1967. It was an immediate success, charting in many countries worldwide. Personnel changes soon followed, including Brooker's old friend Trower, and the band enjoyed success with a string of ground-breaking albums that are associated with the beginnings of progressive rock.

Procol disbanded in 1977, but Brooker got together with Fisher, Trower, and Reid in 1991 for a new album, and while chart success was not forthcoming, the group resumed touring and recording. The band remained active intermittently from that time on.

In addition to Procol Harum, Brooker worked with many other artists, including Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Bill Wyman, Eric Clapton, and others. He died at home as a result of cancer.

Filed under: Obituaries

Related artist(s): Procol Harum

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