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. Other
birthdays: Mike Rossi (Status Quo), Irmin Schmidt (Can), Mel Gaynor (Simple
Minds) and Sir Monti Rock III.