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Gary Brooker, MBE, (born 29 May 1945) is an English singer, songwriter, pianist and founder of the rock band Procol Harum. Brooker was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours on 14 June 2003, in recognition of his charitable services. In recent times, he has gained notice once again as a member of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings.

Biography

Early life

Brooker was born in Hackneymarker, East London. He grew up in the seaside resort of Southend-on-Seamarker, Essex, Englandmarker, as did most of the other founding members of Procol Harum. As a youngster, he learned to play piano, cornet and trombone.

Career

Brooker founded The Paramounts in 1962 with his guitarist friend Robin Trower. The band gained respect within the burgeoning 1960s Britishmarker R&B scene, which yielded The Beatles, The Animals, The Spencer Davis Group, The Rolling Stones, and many others. The Rolling Stones, in particular, were Paramounts fans, giving them guest billing on several memorable shows in the early 1960s.

In 1966, Brooker founded Procol Harum with his friend Keith Reid. "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is the worldwide hit that Procol Harum is best known for, but Brooker's melancholy vocals and emotive, eclectic piano playing were a key part of Procol's musical mix for the entire course of the band's career. In the early years Brooker, Hammond organist Matthew Fisher, and Trower were the guiding musical forces behind the band, but after disparities in style became too much and Fisher and Trower left, Brooker was the clear leader until the band broke up in 1977. Brooker was content to lie low and became the proprietor of the Parrot Inn in Surreymarker.

In 1979, Brooker joined friend and neighbour Eric Clapton's band. With Brooker in the lineup, they released Just One Night, a live recording from Japanmarker and the studio album Another Ticket. Clapton fired the entire band in 1981, but he and Brooker have remained good friends since. Brooker has joined Clapton for several one-off benefit gigs over the years. They still remain neighbours in Ewhurst, Surreymarker.

Brooker sang lead vocal on the Alan Parsons Project song "Limelight", on their 1985 album, Stereotomy. Brooker sang the lead vocal of the song "No news from the Western Frontier", a single taken from the album "Hi-Tec Heroes" by the Dutch performer Ad Visser. A new incarnation of Procol Harum, led by Brooker, and including Fisher for most of the tours from 1991 through 2003, has continued touring the world, celebrating its 40th anniversary in July 2007 with two days of musical revels at St John's Smith Square in Londonmarker. Brooker also toured with Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band in 1997 and 1999, and he was also a member of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings for several years, appearing on three of their albums and touring with the band.

On 28 September 1996, as the Gary Brooker Ensemble, he organized a charity concert to raise funds for his local church, the St. Mary and All Saints Church, in his hometown of Surrey, England. The resulting live CD of the concert, Within Our House, originally released on a fan club CD in a very limited run of 1000 units, has since become a highly collectable recording. His guests and supporting artists included Dave Bronze, Michael Bywater, Mark Brzezicki and Robbie McIntosh.

In November 2002 he was among musicians and singers participating in the George Harrison tribute concert, Concert for George, at which he sang lead vocals on their version of "Old Brown Shoe". Brooker contributed to Harrison's albums All Things Must Pass, Gone Troppo and Somewhere in England.

In April 2005, as the Gary Brooker Ensemble, he played a sell-out charity concert at Guildford Cathedralmarker in aid of the Tsunamimarker appeal, playing a mixture of Procol Harum and solo songs and arrangements of classical and spiritual songs. His guests and supporting artists included Andy Fairweather-Low and Paul Jones (ex-Manfred Mann).

Views and advocacy

Brooker is a supporter of the Countryside Alliance and has played concerts to raise funds for the organisation.

A Whiter Shade of Pale Authorship lawsuit

Discography

Solo albums

  • 1979: No More Fear of Flying
  • 1982: Lead Me to the Water
  • 1985: Echoes in the Night
  • 1996: Within Our House (live album)


Singles

  • 1979: "Savannah"
  • 1979: "Say It Ain't So Joe"
  • 1979: "No More Fear of Flying"
  • 1980: "Leave The Candle"
  • 1982: "Cycle (Let It Flow)"
  • 1982: "Low Flying Birds"
  • 1982: "The Angler"
  • 1984: "The Long Goodbye"
  • 1985: "Two Fools in Love"
  • 1987: "No news from the Western Frontier" (single in the Netherlands, taken from the album "Hi-Tec Heroes" by the Dutch synthesizer performer Ad Visser)


Contributor

  • 1999: Driver's Eyes (Ian McDonald) - Track 11, "Let There Be Light"


References

External links




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