You Say It’s Your Birthday: Procol Harum’s Matthew Fisher

Today is the birthday of Matthew Fisher, organist for
Procol Harum, who was born in 1946 in England. It was Fisher’s organ line
(borrowed from Bach, no less) which helped make Procol Harum’s 1967 single “A
Whiter Shade of Pale” a worldwide hit. Formed in 1966, the band began as an R&B
outfit, but switched gears to follow in the footsteps of bands like the Moody
Blues who focused on ethereal, classical-music-tinged sound. Besides Fisher,
the group also included vocalist Gary Brooker, songwriter Keith Reid, guitarist
Ray Royer, bassist Dave Knight and drummer Bobby Harrison at their inception;
over the years the lineup changed, but the group scored few other hits — among
them “Conquistador” and “Homburg,” both in 1967.

Fisher left the group in
1969 and pursued a solo career, releasing Journeys End in 1973 and
Matthew Fisher in 1980. Meanwhile, Procol Harum continued trying
different recipes for success, including the Jimi Hendrix-inspired Broken
Barricades
in 1971. The band released records until the mid-1980s and
continues to perform occasionally.

Other birthdays: Hamilton Bohannon,
Chris Taylor White (The Zombies), Peter Wolf (J. Geils lead singer), Taylor
Dayne and Paul Davis (The Happy Mondays). — Beth Winegarner