Procol Harum

Procol Harum : The Ghosts Of A Whiter Shade of Pale

4.12 (41 ratings by Goodreads)
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Formed in the 1960s, 'Prog Rock' British group Procol Harum are best known for their multi million selling single A Whiter Shade of Pale which is the most played record by a British artist of the last 70 years. Features exclusive interviews with band members Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, Matthew Fisher, Robin Trower, Dave Ball, Mick Grabham, Geoff Whitehorn, Chris Copping and Dave Bronze. Also includes interviews with Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, film director Alan Parker, as well as former managers, DJs and many others. Tells the story of their formation in Essex in the 1960s, their split on their tenth anniversary in 1977 and their reforming in 1991. Gives details of one of the costliest court cases in British music history whereby a judge awarded a 40% share in the copyright of A Whiter Shade of Pale, to a former organist of the band. Lead singer Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid always claimed credit for the hit, which became part of the soundtrack of 1967. But in his ruling, the judge decided that organist Matthew Fisher was entitled to both credit and royalties. Brings the story right up to date with detail of their album releases and tours over the last decade.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 340 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 32mm | 718g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • colour photos
  • 1780382332
  • 9781780382333
  • 267,013

About Henry Scott Irvine

Henry Scott-Irvine first saw Procol Harum in 1973 and has known the band since 1979. He co-ordinated 'Procol Harum Live In Concert with The LSO' at London's Barbican Theatre in 1996, and co-hosted the band's 30th Anniversary concert at The Redhill Theatre in 1997. He has been writing, researching, and developing TV programming for over 25 years. This is his first book.
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Rating details

41 ratings
4.12 out of 5 stars
5 44% (18)
4 32% (13)
3 17% (7)
2 7% (3)
1 0% (0)

Our customer reviews

"We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels 'cross the floor... ' Forever changing the face of pop music when they burst onto the scene in 1967 with the mega-hit, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum remains one of the more important - if least-recognized - forces in the evolution of rock and roll. The profound effect of their aforementioned iconic world-wide hit song not only served to propel the band into the public's consciousness but also became the albatross that would overshadow the rest of the band's fine work and lead to a bitter court case some 38 years later. Author Henry Scott-Irvine's comprehensive history and homage to Procol Harum captures the flavor of the mid-sixties, tracing the beginnings of Procol Harum as far back as Gary Brooker's first group, The Paramounts - a local R&B cover band. Eventually landing a recording contract and gaining high praise from The Rolling Stones and other up-and-coming rock bands, The Paramounts nevertheless ended and Brooker focused on song writing. Brooker eventually partnered with lyricist Keith Reid - a pairing that would lead to the creation of Procol Harum as a vehicle for the unique songs that were emerging from their combined efforts. The Brooker/Reid formula still works to this day, as the book's author points out - but it's a story full of personnel changes, money problems, questionable management and seemingly frequent bad luck. Scott-Irvine also takes us behind the scenes as Procol Harum pioneers orchestral rock and hints at the the roots of progressive rock by introducing a 17 minute opus on their second album. By the book's end we're brought right up to the current incarnation of the band, a capable and congenial musical unit touring the world, dispelling ghosts as they go. The book is highly readable, full of facts and well-illustrated with rare photos (in black & white and color) that cover the entire length of Procol Harum's career, right up to the present. Scott-Irvine assembles quotes and reminiscences culled from exclusive interviews with band members spanning Procol Harum's 40 year-plus career, including comments from Brooker, Reid and Matthew Fisher. Fisher, of course, was the man behind the Bach-inspired Hammond organ on A Whiter Shade of Pale and the initiator of the lawsuit disputing the authorship of that famous organ line and whether or not financial compensation was owed for more than three decades of royalties. This dilemma remains a point of contention that still stirs discussion throughout the band's sizable fan-base (partially represented by the impressive website, Beyond The Pale, found at ) and is treated fairly here, complete with the inclusion of court documents in the appendix section of the book. Like Monsieur R. Monde, spectral subject of the Procol Harum song of the same name, the ghost of A Whiter Shade of Pale persists to this day. A key factor in the story of Procol Harum has much to do with the popular culture of the era into which the band was born. At a time when pop groups were supposed to be cheery mop-top lads that huddled together and produced bouncy hit singles, Procol Harum was a group that wouldn't compromise musical integrity, featured obscure, poetic lyrics over love songs, rejected the idea of corporate 'cuteness' and would end up replacing members fairly frequently before groups like Steely Dan did the same as a matter of course. Procol Harum - The Ghosts of A Whiter Shade of Pale is a fine book for anyone interested in the music of the classic rock era, with 'cameo appearances' by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and other up-and-coming rockers of the day, quotes from the likes of Jimmy Page and a foreword by no less than Martin Scorsese! The legacy of stunning music by Procol Harum lives on to this day. Thankfully, we can read the book and also go see these masters of classic rock in concert, doing what they've always done best, and A Whiter Shade of Pale is only one small part of the package, as the author clearly shows. Recommended reading for fans, rock historians, and anyone interested in an inside look at how the music business isn't always as simple as it seems on the outside. - Bert Saraco A writer and photographer, Bert Saraco's concert photography is featured on several Album and CD covers and DVD projects, including an upcoming Neal Morse live concert DVD. The recent book, Fun and Dangerous - Untold Tales, Unseen Photos and Unearthed Music From My Father's Place features his work, as does the fine book reviewed aboveshow more
by Bert Saraco
I have to admit I accidentally dissed this, and I can only assume that the other three people did so by accident too. If you are a fan of Procol Harum, this is for you; rich in detail and lovingly described and illustrated. If you are someone who believes that writing the song that has become the most played at marriages (and increasingly at funerals) the most played in public spaces of all time (and never out of either the "most popular" or "top-selling" charts that so often pervade our tv and radio screens) was somehow a one way ticket to untold wealth and the heady heights of fame, this book puts the story straight. It draws you inexorably from the greatest song of all time to the most ruinous musical lawsuit of all time, in a way that diminishes none of the characters while hiding none of the things that make them as human (and therefore interesting) as you and me. No-one sounds like Procol Harum, and they never sounded like someone else. I can't recommend this unique insight highly more
by Gordon Chalmers
Astonishly interesting book about the birth, growth and success of a band that is far more than their worldwide million-seller Whiter Shade of Pale for which they are best remembered. Their experiments with orchestras around the world paved the way for others, in much the same way their early sixties adoption of US rhythm'n'blues in their previous incarnation as The Paramounts opened the door for a generation of British bluesmen. Author Henry Scott-Irvine is to be congratulated for his detailed research into the subject, his easy writing style, and the obvious warmth he feels towards what is obviously his favourite group. Congratulations, too, on the plugs he is getting this week in the national press! JHshow more
by John Howard
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