Procol Harum – ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’
  • Writers: Gary Brooker and Keith Reid
  • Producer: Denny Cordell
  • Recorded: Spring 1967 in London, England
  • Released: Summer 1967
  • Players:
    Gary Brooker–vocals, piano
    Matthew Fisher–organ
    Ray Royer–guitar
    Dave Knights–bass
    Bobby Harrison–drums
  • Album: Procol Harum (Deram, 1967)
  • Also on:
    The Best Of Procol Harum (A&M, 1973)
    Greatest Hits (A&M, 1987)
  • The surrealistic lyrics to “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” come from a poem written by Keith Reid, who was considered a member of Procol Harum even though he did not perform with the group.
  • Matthew Fisher’s Hammond organ line on the song was inspired by the Bach cantata “Sleepers Awake” and the instrumental “Air on a G String,” but is not actually a direct copy of any piece of classical music.
  • The lineup of Procol Harum that recorded “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” was actually the group’s second. An earlier version of the band, which formed around 1962 as the Paramounts, had broken up in 1966, and the group was re-formed by Brooker and Reid after they wrote some new material.
  • Prior to the song’s release, producer Denny Cordell sent a copy to the pirate radio ship Radio London to build a buzz for the single. Favorable listener reaction prompted the Deram label to rush-release it in England.
  • Among the song’s most outspoken admirers were the Beatles.
  • It peaked at Number Five on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. In the U.K., it was a Number One hit for six weeks.
  • The song has sold more than six million copies worldwide.


  • Guitarist Ray Royer and drummer Bobby Harrison left Procol Harum in July 1967, and were replaced by former Paramounts members Robin Trower on guitar and B.J. Wilson on drums.
  • Robin Trower left the group in the summer of 1971 for a solo career.
  • Procol Harum broke up in 1977 and re-formed in 1991-92.
  • Brooker has taken part in Ringo Starr‘s All-Starr Band, with which he’s performed “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”
  • “A Whiter Shade of Pale” has been covered by Annie Lennox, Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, Percy Sledge, and Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings, among many others.
  • In 2005, Matthew Fisher, who played organ on the track, filed suit against Gary Brooker and his publisher, claiming that Fisher co-wrote the music for the song. Fisher, now a computer programmer, claimed a share of copyright and past sales. Fisher won the case in 2006, but was awarded a 40% share of the copyright, rather than the 50% he was seeking, and was not granted past royalties. In 2008, a judge overruled the 2006 ruling, saying Fisher’s name should be on the credits but he should not get any money from the publishing, because he had waited 38 years to challenge the copyright.