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whose first album didn’t even enter the UK charts; a band whose musical palette included the seamless incorporation of classical themes and musical motifs, whilst still possessing the ability to rock out as hard as any of their contemporaries. A band that initially (at least), didn’t really exist, yet went on to enjoy a 10-year career that garnered substantial commercial and critical success; yet Procol Harum remain curiously under-regarded in their home land, remembered in large part, for “that” hit single, which has been the subject of an ongoing legal action which went to the House Of Lords for adjudication earlier this year.


T


HE STORY OF PROCOL Harum is a mass of contradictions. A band that scored a smash global #1 hit single with their first release, yet


“That” hit single was, of course ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’, a stately, elegant, elegiac, era-defining single that took psychedelia to the toppermost of the poppermost and also ushered in the “progressive” era, amongst a number of “firsts”. And not just in the UK, either; for example, the single was #1 in Venezuela (of all places) for six months, as well as going Top Five in just about every singles chart listing around the world.


The Paramounts circa ’64. L-R: Gary Brooker, Robin Trower,BJ Wilson, Diz Derrick.


When ‘AWSOP’ ascended to the top of the UK singles chart in June 1967, the song seemed to kick start our own Summer Of Love – indeed, its six-week tenure at the #1slot was ended by The Beatles with ‘All You Need Is Love’ – yet the massive, unprecedented success of the single was almost the undoing of the band.


Rare Paramounts acetate.


Procol Harum seemed to have came from out of nowhere; even their line-up – featuring a lead vocalist who played piano (Gary Brooker), a Hammond organist (Matthew Fisher), as well as bass, drums and guitar, and curiouser and curiouser, a non-performing “sixth Procol” in the shape of lyricist Keith Reid, the band were of a considerably different stripe to the standard rock and roll combo of the time. Probably time to talk about how they came to be…


Procol Mk I looking ill at ease in their Summer Of Love finery. L-R: Bobby Harrison, Dave Knights, Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, Ray Royer.


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