Procol Harum

the Pale

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'Style Council’ : Procol Harum and prog rock

Before and after

It's comforting when a journalist takes his responsibilities seriously enough to contact a fan website with corrections to a magazine article. In March 2006, a year after the paper-publication of an article fraught with errors in its brief reference to Procol, BtP was contacted by Barry Cleveland,
Associate Editor of Guitar Player Magazine:


I received an email from Matthew Fisher regarding misinformation that had, unfortunately, found its way into an article of mine. He mentioned a "fan site," which lead me to

We go to great lengths to verify information before the magazine goes to print, and typically get it right – but in this case circumstances conspired in such away that I/we got nearly everything wrong in the paragraph concerning Procol Harem. It was too late to make corrections before the magazine went to press, but corrections have been made to the Web site version, based on additional research, reader input, and Matthew’s informative email.
 If you plan to continue including my article on your site [...] please be good enough to replace the current version with the corrected one.

Of course, we are delighted to put this right, and the amended piece may be read here, or equally at the Guitar Player website, which is well worth exploring in its own right. This matter highlights a downside of the Internet: although web-publishing gives an author a swift and inexpensive way of rectifying errors, he or she has much more trouble tracking down sites that reproduce the incorrect information. And whereas a mistake in a paper magazine is quickly lost to view, an archived web-clone of the page will persevere perhaps indefinitely, accessed in moments by any number of search-engines, bringing disinformation to the attention of fresh readers long after it should have been forgotten.

Barry graciously finishes,

I very much enjoyed perusing your excellent site, and only wish that the assistant who gathered information on PH for the article would have found it, as there’s lots of great information there.

What was originally printed, now conceded as
'nearly everything wrong'
The amended version, 'based on additional research, reader input, and Matthew’s informative email'
In mid 1967, Procol Harum – a studio band assembled by vocalist/keyboardist Gary Brooker and lyricist Keith Reid – had a huge hit with “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” a song based on a Bach Air and arranged for rock band and orchestra. Brooker would soon form a permanent band that juxtaposed his churchy organ and passionate vocals with Robin Trower’s powerhouse blues-rock guitar – but “Whiter” demonstrated the commercial viability of pairing a rock band with an orchestra. In mid 1967, Procol Harum – a speculative band assembled primarily by lyricist Keith Reid, vocalist/pianist Gary Brooker, and organist Matthew Fisher – had a huge hit with “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” a haunting song based on a Bach Air, that successfully fused rock instrumentation with elements of classical composition. The band’s lineup shifted soon thereafter – most significantly, guitarist Ray Royer was replaced by powerhouse blues-rocker Robin Trower – but “Whiter” demonstrated the commercial viability of blending rock and classical sensibilities.