Procol Harum

the Pale

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Procol Harum singer wins royalties fight

  CNN online • 4 April 2008

The lead singer of British band Procol Harum has won an appeal court judgment awarding him full royalties for the band's iconic hit, A Whiter Shade of Pale.

The ruling means the band's singer Gary Brooker
is now entitled to all the song's royalties
Matthew Fisher contributed the song's organ theme
but will now receive no royalties

Britain's Court of Appeal ruled in rock star Gary Brooker's favor, overturning an earlier lower court decision awarding the group's former organist 40 percent of the royalties from the song.

The Court of Appeal said that Matthew Fisher, who played the song's haunting organ theme, was entitled to co-authorship. However, the court said he will receive no money from past or future royalties because he waited too long to make his claim.

Fisher filed his claim to joint ownership nearly 40 years after the song was recorded in 1967. One of the anthems of the Summer of Love, the record sold 10 million copies. Rolling Stone magazine has ranked the song 57th on a list of the 500 greatest of all time.

Brooker argued that it was his idea to use the Bach theme that Fisher played on the track. Brooker, who still tours with the band, said he and lyricist Keith Reid wrote the song before Fisher joined the band in March 1967.

"This claim has been a great strain upon myself and my family," Brooker said in a statement. "I believe the original trial was unfair and the results wrong."

Lord Justice John Mummery rejected Fisher's claim for an estimated 1 million (€1.3 million; $2 million) in back royalties.

Mummery said the issue of who will pay legal costs will be decided at a later date as well as whether Fisher can appeal the decision to the House of Lords, Britain's highest court.

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."

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 five hit in the United States.

More about the AWSoP lawsuit



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