The lead singer of British band Procol Harum is appealing a judgment
awarding the group's former organist 40 percent of the royalties from their
iconic hit A Whiter Shade of Pale
Brooker argues that it was his idea to use the Bach theme played by organist
Matthew Fisher on the record, and that he was unable to make his case
properly because Fisher didn't tell him he was pursuing his legal claim.
Fisher, 61, sued the leader of Procol Harum nearly 40 years after he
recorded the song, saying he was entitled to both credit and royalties.
On Wednesday, Brooker's lawyer charged that Fisher had waited until May 2005
to begin court proceedings because he wanted to enjoy the life of a pop star
and knew that a lawsuit would end his career with the band.
"There are advantages in being a pop star. Girls wink at you," attorney John
Baldwin said. "There are huge lifestyle benefits from being a pop star and
this was Mr Fisher's dream, and he realized that dream over the last 40
In December, a judge awarded Fisher, a classically trained musician, a 40
percent share in the copyright of the song, saying his organ solo was "a
distinctive and significant contribution to the overall composition."
Brooker has said that he and lyricist Keith Reid wrote the song before
Fisher joined the band in March 1967. The two have called Fisher's court
victory a dangerous precedent, saying it meant any musician who had played
on any recording in the past four decades could claim joint authorship.
A Whiter Shade of Pale
, famous for its cryptic lyrics — "We skipped
the light fandango, turned cartwheels 'cross the floor" — topped the British
charts for five weeks in 1967 and was a Top 5 hit in the US.
magazine has ranked it 57th in a list of the 500
greatest songs of all time.
Fisher, now a computer programmer living in south London, left the band in
Brooker, 62, still tours with Procol Harum.