Procol Harum. British rock group [more about the excellent Grove here including free trials etc … recommended!]
Formed in 1966, they rose to fame in 1967 with the hit single A Whiter Shade of Pale, which featured a Bach-inspired organ melody set against the rhythm and blues singing of pianist Gary Brooker (b Southend-on-Sea [sic], 29 May 1945). The group’s early albums, Procol Harum (R. Zono, 1967), Shine on Brightly (R. Zono, 1968) and A Salty Dog (R. Zono, 1969), blend aspects of classical music with the band’s rhythm and blues roots, making them a model for much subsequent British progressive rock.
The 18-minute suite In Held ‘Twas In I from their second album is the group’s most ambitious track, while A Salty Dog from the third employs orchestral accompaniment to beautiful effect. Over the two years that followed A Salty Dog, original members Matthew Fisher (b London, 7 March 1946; organ) and Robin Trower (b East Ham, 9 March 1945; drums [sic]) left the group. In 1972 the band released Procol Harum in Concert, an album recorded with Canada’s Edmonton SO that featured new versions of previously released songs. The single of Conquistador from the first album became a hit as did the album.
After releasing four more albums, the group disbanded in 1977. In 1991, Brooker, Fisher and Trower briefly reformed the band and released The Prodigal Stranger (ZooIBMG).
N. Jones: 'Procol Harum: a Sound to Remember’, Melody Maker (3 June 1967)
A. Bailey: ‘Procol Harum and Facts of Life’, Rolling Stone (10 June 1971)
S. Rosen: ‘Gary Brooker: Rock Piano Mainstay with Procol Harum’, Contemporary Keyboard, ivI7 (1978), 12ff
N. Schaffner: ‘Procol Harum’, The British Invasion, ed. N. Schaffner (New York, 1983), 251-2
More Procol history in print