Say It's Your Birthday: Procol Harum's Gary Brooker

Today is the Birthday of Gary Brooker, born in Hackney, London in

1945. He was originally with the Southend R&B group, The Paramounts,

who had a minor hit with "Little Bitty Pretty One" before they broke

up in 1966. After their unlamented demise, Brooker hooked up with

lyricist Keith Reid and formed Procol Harum, the progressive rock cum

psychedelic band. Their first collaboration, "A Whiter Shade Of Pale,"

was loosely built off of Bach's "Air On A G String." The band, named

after Reid's cat, were quickly signed by Deram Records and found

themselves with a huge international hit. Much of the success of the

band's sound was due to Matthew Fisher's stately organ work and Robin

Trower's lyrical blues-based guitar playing, which appeared on Procol

Harum's second and third albums, Shine On Brightly and A

Salty Dog. In spite of further lineup changes (eventually

incorporating most of the Paramounts) they went on to enjoy even

greater success during the early 70s, with Live In Concert With The

Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. But soon after their effervescence

dimmed, and it seemed they were only relying on past glories. They

eventually broke up in 1977, after the uninspired Something

Magic. It is also the birthday of Mike Rossi (Status Quo), Irmin

Schmidt (Can), Mel Gaynor (Simple Minds) and Sir Monti Rock III.