Gary Brooker of Procol Harum is 70

My friends would muse about whether there really WERE 16 Vestal virgins.

procolharum Gary Brooker, the guy with the mustache, is the founder, keyboard player, and lead singer of the progressive rock group Procol Harum through its entire run (1967–1977, 1991–present).

I have three LPs by the group, all from 1972 or earlier. But I had a cassette greatest hits, which I absolutely loved, before it wore out.

I now own a greatest hits album on CD which is a different collection. And it was on that disc I heard the song called Boredom, the B-side of the 1969 single The Devil Came From Kansas, for the very first time

It contains the lyrics:

Some say they will and some say they won’t
Some say they do and some say they don’t
Some say they shall and some say they shan’t
And some say they can and some say they can’t

This made me do a double take, because I had written, many years ago, a song called Inconsistency, which rhymed “shan’t” and “can’t”.

“Brooker also toured with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band in 1997 and 1999.”

My favorite Procol Harum songs:

8. Whiskey Train (1969). This is just a hard-rocking tune that is different from what I associate with the group.

7. In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence (1968, B-side of Quite Rightly So). Love the syncopation of the organ line.

6. Homburg (1967, #34 US, #6 UK).

5. Quite Rightly So (1968, #50 UK).

4. A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967, #5 US, #1 UK). The first big single. Vestal was a suburb of Binghamton, NY, my hometown. When I was 14, my friends would muse about whether there really WERE 16 Vestal virgins.

“In July 2009, [original Procol Harum organist] Matthew Fisher won a British court judgment awarding him 40% of the music royalties from 2005 onwards for 1967’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, which had previously gone 50% to Brooker for the music and 50% to [Keith] Reid for the lyrics.” Coincidentally, Fisher and I share a birthday.

3. Shine On Brightly (1968) Love this from the very first notes. Surprised it wasn’t a single.

2. Conquistador (1972, #16 US, #22 UK, with different B-sides). From Live In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. WAY better than the studio version.

1. A Salty Dog (1969, #44 UK). Maybe it’s a Pisces thing, but this song has viscerally affected me from first hearing.
Coverville 1080: Creedence Clearwater Revival and Procol Harum Cover Stories

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Gary Brooker of Procol Harum is 70”

  1. Great list; “A Salty Dog” is my wife’s favorite song of theirs, too. I love the album it’s on, especially. Obvious choice, but “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is my favorite, mostly because it really just blew me away the first time I heard it, just shook me right down to the ground, very late at night, quietly coming off the radio. That song is why I coined the term “3AM Song” to describe a certain kind of mood.

    I’d never heard that live version of “Conquistador” before. You’re right, WAY better.

    Is it so much to ask for another great psychedelic/progressive symphonic art blues hard rock band to just come along already?

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