Procol Harum

the Pale 

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A Whiter Shade of Pale

The masterpiece that started it all

Reid for yourself
AWSoP quoted by Kate Bush in a song on which Gary Brooker plays Hammond organ
On-going discussion:
what do they mean?
The envelope in which the words left the lyricist
Gary Brooker's comment; Matthew Fisher's comment
Big, interesting article from
Lives of the Great Songs
words in charity auction: a little light on the "might've been closed" variant
AWSoP in full with all the abandoned verses
at Douglas Adams's house party (The Guardian, 3 June 2000)
The phrase 'whiter shade of pale':
examples of its passage into common parlance

the UK's
Daily Mail
12 / 12 / 12

Click the graphic

June 2005: lawsuit about the authorship of the music of AWSoP
Brooker / Fisher / Reid: Joan May writes on AWSoP and its composers
Brooker / Fisher / Bach: read
What Bach piece? and Bach and Fisher
AWSoP helps Europe celebrate Bach (not)
Britain's foremost contemporary playwright, on Bach and AWSoP
How much of AWSoP did Matthew Fisher write?
Gary Brooker talks about writing and arranging the song (BBC Radio 4, March 2002)
Gary Brooker talks about writing the song (BBC Radio 4, October 2004)
Fisher's own account of the organ melody on BBC Radio Merseyside
Matthew Fisher writes to Melody Maker about precisely who did what AWSoP-wise
Gary Brooker's whimsical account of
the circumstances of composition
More of the same:
letter to Mojo 47, 1997
Play it on the mouth-harp: see
used in an episode of Dr Who not written by Douglas Adams and played live in a US programme entitled House
A possible
Scott Walker influence?
A more-or-less recognizable karaoke MIDI version on the web
A Brass band in Swindon, UK, who play AWSoP
This website can supply two AWSoPs to be your Nokia mobile-'phone ring-tone (look for Procul [sic] under Classic Rock)
Brooker and Fisher record
two television interviews about AWSoP in October 2000
AWSoP used in a Norwegian TV commercial
Geoff Whitehorn's solo A Whiter Shade of Pale in Guitar Techniques.
It appears that the 1967 Procol recording (transposed up a tone) forms the intro to Track 3 from the 2008 Girl Talk album, Feed The Animals: sample here and do play 'spot the [sic]' with No 14 on this list
You may be interested to listen to, and read,
this page about AWSoP covers

The Record
YouTube clip of the original 1967 line-up of Procol Harum playing A Whiter Shade of Pale
This link, should you choose to follow it, will yield access to a mixable online multitrack of A Whiter Shade of Pale ... albeit not the original!
Acknowledged in the USA's 'Rock and Roll Hall of Fame', 2018: see
July 1967:
in a flawed performance, Gary Brooker sings part of the (missing) third verse of AWSoP on BBC TV's Top of the Pops
Why was it a hit at all? Comic article here
The most-played track at the Beatles' Sgt Pepper launch party?
See here (thanks, Charlie)
Salutary demographic information from 2013
'Songfacts' page about the song. Facts? Might be better entitled AWSoP's Fables ...
Good(ish) AWSoP article in the Sydney Morning Herald
The drummer's tale:
who played drums on A Whiter Shade of Pale?
What's that sound?: a guide to Matthew Fisher's
Hammond registration
Gary Brooker on AWSoP in 1967
Very early (May 1967) English review of AWSoP
Very early (July 1967) German review of AWSoP
A very early newspaper article plugging A Whiter Shade of Pale
AWSoP gets
its first BBC airing
the first AWSoP film
Front page of Disc and Music Echo, June 1967
A misprint on the US 45 rpm AWSoP
AWSoP offered on acetate to Love Affair in early 1967
Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade of Pale in the
UK singles charts
30 years of '... that song' and a pictorial blunder from
Vox magazine
AWSoP featured in
a book about Hammond organs
AWSoP as a life-landmark - a second-generation AWSoP marriage - AWSoP as a funeral dirge - Gary Brooker as Cupid - AWSoP heard in the dark, AWSoP through a Rambler window, AWSoP tops the 2009 funeral charts
pop melting-pot from which AWSoP emerged
Résumé in The Times, November 1998
Fascinating Norwegian literary references:
here and here; American literary reference here
French literary reference
here; Swedish novel-references here; Dutch novel reference here; German novel reference here
reassuringly overheard in Java
Kaleidoscope Eyes: Psychedelic Music From the 1960s to the 1990s by Jim Derogatis, 1996.
From a 1983
Encyclopedia of Rock
A radio interview about an astonishing AWSoP collection
A more or less accurate snippet from a widely-read Sunday paper
Gibbs Magazine:
an article relating US political life in 1968 to the words of A Whiter Shade of Pale
The famous single
re-released, August 2007, with amended authorship credit
No 84 (!) in a 2008 poll of
the PopDose 'favorite singles of the last 50 years': read the list here
sixty-minute AWSoP radio broadcast on London's Resonance FM, 26 April 2009
Versions of the record
recreated in stereo
' ...
one of the most overrated songs the world has ever heard ...'
Procol Harum's Japanese single of AWSoP, recorded at Abbey Road in 2012
Are Procol Harum one-hit wonders?
Brooker and Reid comment on the song in a 2014 mini-documentary
The 'Record Store Day' fiftieth anniversary album of tracks recorded in 1967, including something previous unheard.


Superstar esteem: Lindsay Buckingham, Cher, Joe Cocker, Deep Purple, Dave Gilmour, Ian Hunter, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, Ozzy Osbourne, Jimmy Page, Mick Ronson, Martin Scorsese, Ringo Starr, Bernie Taupin, Brian Wilson ... (see many others here)
Brooker / Reid's partnership opens the door for the likes of John / Taupin
Fifty Years of Rock Music: Brooker and Fisher play AWSoP in Germany
Missing Markers in the Rock and Roll of Honour
Number 22 in Mojo Poll: still hugely popular thirty years later (1997)
Number 21 in
The Mojo 100 Epic Rock Tracks (2004)
Industry awards for the song
A snippet from
Entertainment Weekly
Brief assessment in The Times, November 1998
Disc and Music Echo, 1967
Song of the Year
BBC Radio 2:
hundred best tunes of the century (see also here)
August 1997:
fourth in a Daily Mail poll
May 1998:
Top of a Netherlands Radio poll
Tunes Music Network on AWSoP
Q magazine's 1999
'Best singles of all time' chart: No 92, indeed!
Music of the Millennium charts: at No 76 here, indeed!
Top single ever in a Norwegian Radio poll … + Gary's response
Record Collector July 1999 - AWSoP named
the key song of 1967
taken to No 1 by a top Danish artist
performed as a Brooker / Fisher duet for London Weekend Television, February 2000
AWSoP at a funeral, and
parallels between Procol Harum / Abba antecedent-groups
Top single ever in a Norwegian Radio poll … + Gary's response
Record Collector July 1999 - AWSoP named
the key song of 1967
taken to No 1 by a top Danish artist
performed as a Brooker / Fisher duet for London Weekend Television, February 2000
AWSoP at a funeral, and
parallels between Procol Harum / Abba antecedent-groups'A website dedicated to A Whiter Shade of Pale
AWSoP in heavy rotation, 2004, on Norwegian TV show, Svish
performed by Brooker and Fisher to celebrate fifty years of rock, April 2004
most-played record of last seventy years in UK, 1934–2004; and five years on, most played of last seventy-five years
tops the pops in every house: winner, 'Sold on Song', Radio 2, 31 May 2004
This 45 rpm record bought by Jean Marion Steel Clare in Taunton, May 1967AWSoP at 50
Greatest psychedelic singles' in Record Collector, July 2004
Top 500 singles in Rolling Stone: a poor piece of writing
Henry Scott-Irvine's
documentary on the song; plea for fans to contribute to it
Channel 5 Poll programme from 2005, commemorating the 1,000th No 1 hit single
favourite song of The Taoiseach

Other Versions
Try it in a karaoke version with a bouncing ball, wrong words and wrong chords
Richard Nixon, once a president of America, busks the song
Cacophonously broadcast (!) from a London public house with the composer at the piano
A Whiter Shade of Pale
in the movies (especially in The Commitments)
Italian words, bearing scant relation to the original
Tum ho mere dil ki dhadkan, the Asian AWSoP from the film Manzil
Cover versions by a great variety of artists
Parodies: supposedly the sincerest form of flattery ...
Sixty special virgins: the
Pat Kelly word-variants
covered by a top Danish artist
Jonas Söderström alerts us to a version very few have heard before ...
follow this link ... More about the artist can be found at these links.
Cambodian version: article and music here

Peculiar AWSoP tangents ...
This and this
This old dog and this snow ghost and another dog
The Irish connection
The Japanese bar of the same name
Procol Harum / The Prisoner
Thomas Pynchon
printed on a Polish postcard
A Whiter Shade of Pale in Hispanic literature
AWSoP discussed on Day 49 of chat about Big Brother
gets a good laugh in I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
AWSoP in flowers at the Hampton Court Flower Show 2011
AWSoP and Asterix

Click on poodle to learn its Procolian name



Creative AWSoP musical notation: the cake and the signature

A huge cake for a huge hit: Redhill,
19 July 1997 

Photograph contributed anonymously 'by a long-time fan who happened to be fortunate enough to attend perhaps the last Procol Harum concert': Luckily, not so!

For a limited time you could buy a numbered and signed copy of the AWSoP CD single

PH on stage | PH on record | PH in print | BtP features | What's new | Interact with BtP | For sale | Site search | Home