Procol Harum’s lead singer, Gary Brooker, and lyricist
Keith Reid have won back full royalty rights for A Whiter Shade of Pale. The
pair had been forced to share the
songwriting credits with organist Matthew Fisher, after a 2006 legal ruling.
However, the London’s Court of Appeal reversed the decision in favour of Brooker
and Reid, ruling that there had been
an "excessive delay" in Fisher’s original claim.
In October, Brooker’s barrister, John Baldwin QC, told the Court of Appeal that Mr Fisher had failed to take the case to court earlier because “he wanted to stay in the band and live the life of a pop star". Fisher had filed a lawsuit against Brooker in 2005, nearly 40 years after the hit was recorded, claiming his distinctive organ melody was integral to the song and he should be acknowledged as one of the song’s creators. “It was entirely my idea to compose a set solo, and give the last two bars a satisfying ‘shape’.” Then, Johann Sebastian Bach's ghost waded in calling all a "buncha ripper offers" (English ain't his first language, give him a break).
Lord Justice Mummery's (yes, that's his real name) ruling overturns the 2006 decision to credit Fisher with co-writing the ’60s classic and awarding him 40 per cent of past and future royalties.
*EDIT .... hang on... that's not right at all... The court UPHELD Fisher's co-writing credit by a Unanimous Decision. It was only the royalties, not the credit, that the Court returned to Brooker. The Court of Appeal ruled that although Mr Fisher, a computer programmer from Croydon, was entitled to co-authorship, he should not receive any royalties. (thanks for that Procol Harum representatives).
Speaking to Uncut last year, Brooker played down Fisher’s contribution. “Of
course it has improvisation on it, from the rehearsals. But it was based on my
ideas, my music and playing,” said
Brooker. “If there was any question over credits then that should have been
sorted on the day.”
Now, seeing as A Whiter Shade of Pale is one of the most successful songs of all time, with almost 1000 cover versions and 10 million sales, we hit on an idea. Seeing as no-one knows who wrote it, we're considering claiming rights to the song. What do you reckon? None of us were born when it was recorded... but that shouldn't matter should it? See you in our best suits.
More about the AWSoP lawsuit