Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade of Pale


It’s taken me a long time to get round to one of the best known 60s numbers. The music, influenced by J S Bach’s Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 BWV1068 (‘Air on a G string’), was written by the group’s founder and singer Gary Brooker and their organist Matthew Fisher, and the words were by Keith Reid. It was the group’s debut single, recorded in April 1967 and released the following month. It reached No 1 in Britain and No 5 in America, and is one of the most successful records in history with sales of more than 10million. In 1977, it was named joint Best British Pop Single 1952–1977 (with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody) at the Brit Awards. In 2004, it was placed at 57 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


One Reply to “Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade of Pale”

  1. That’s a big favourite of mine too; so big that it’s often taken for granted. It is one of the greatest singles of the sixties, and certainly the most famous psychedelic single. My copy is a 12″ single reissue on Cube Records in white vinyl. Looking it up on Discogs it was released in 1978, and so I must have bought it then or shortly after. Back then I didn’t know what the song’s lyrics meant, but I’ve since learnt that they don’t mean anything much; nonsense lyrics made up from classical literature.

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