Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procul [sic] Harum vs Procul [sic] Harum • 14 November 2006 News:- "If copyright law weren't so strict about when public domain kicks in, Bach's heirs could be having a field day, just as Beethoven's estate could make a mint from Walter/Wendy Carlos for that pop knockoff of his Ninth Symphony and Bizet's estate could sue for the indignities committed by Malcolm McLaren and others against his Carmen."

And you could go on.

The quotes in the intro comprise the last paragraph to an OpEd in The Globe & Mail on the fact an ex-Procul [sic] Harum keyboard player Matthew Fisher is claiming royalties for riffs linking verses in the band's famous A Whiter Shade of Pale.

Fisher, now 60 and a computer programmer, "claims that he was instrumental in the creation of one of the most successful songs in British musical history – and wants a share of the royalties – a claim denied by Gary Brooker, leader of the band," says The Times Online.

So, he played for Mr Justice Blackburne, "who studied music and law at Cambridge, to prove his claims that the Bach-inspired organ embellishment that made the song a worldwide hit was, in fact, his own idea," says the story.

However, "The claim is being vigorously defended by Gary Brooker, the band's vocalist, who says he and lyricist Keith Reid, wrote the song," says The Independent. "Mr Brooker based his tune on Johann Sebastian Bach's Air on a G String – which he had heard on a Hamlet cigar advertisement – and Bach's Sleepers Awake."

Acting for Fisher, Iain Purvis, QC, told Blackburne, "Mr Fisher now seeks a declaration that he is entitled to a share – an equal share in the musical copyright for the song as originally recorded."

And by way of a footnote, "'I got a bit sick with the music business as a whole," Fisher says in a Croydon Advertiser interview. "It's run too much now by marketing people who are more concerned with how the band looks than what it sounds like.

"If I was 18 years old again, I wouldn't want to go into the music business now."

More about the AWSoP lawsuit



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