Procol Harum

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Procol Harum

Procol Harum is a British progressive rock band, formed in the early 1960s. They are best known for their #1 hit single "A Whiter Shade Of Pale", though they have had a devoted cult following throughout their career.

The roots of Procol Harum are in a live band led by Gary Brooker and Robin Trower called 'the Paramounts', popular performers in the early 1960s. They signed to Parlophone in 1963 (see 1963 in music) and released 'Poison Ivy', a moderate British success in 1964 (see 1964 in music). They were unable to recreate this success, however, and the band fell apart in 1966 (see 1966 in music). Brooker began working as a songwriter and soon formed a band called 'The Pinewoods', who recorded 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' before changing names to 'Procol Harum'. With the sudden success of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' and The Moody Blues' 'Nights in White Satin', Deram Records became known as the premiere progressive rock label.

'A Whiter Shade of Pale' took its melody from the Johann Sebastian Bach cantata 'Sleepers Awake' and combined it with an electric organ line styled after soul singer Percy Sledge's 1966 classic 'When A Man Loves A Woman'. Sledge loved Procol Harum's composition so much that he added it to his live repertoire.

Procol Harum's live debut was opening for Jimi Hendrix in 1967 (see 1967 in music), which led to "A Whiter Shade of Pale" reaching #1 on the British charts and selling almost as well in the United States. The follow-up, 'Homburg', was almost as successful, but the LP 'Procol Harum', was less successful. A series of singles continued charting in the US and United Kingdom, though rarely both at the same time, while the band continued adding more classical elements. 'A Salty Dog' (1969; see 1969 in music) was popular among fans, and was their first album to sell well; it is still highly regarded as perhaps their best LP.

During the 1970s, Procol Harum remained more popular than slightly inaccessible progressive rock bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The band continued in spite of constant line-up changes, most notably the departure of Trower upon the release of Procol's fifth album, 'Broken Barricades'. They were one of the first groups to achieve success with a symphony orchestra, as the album 'Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra' reached #48 in Britain in 1972.

More personnel problems contributed to declining sales in the later part of the 1970s, and finally broke up in 1977 (see 1977 in music). They reunited for a single performance five months later, due to 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' being named joint winner (along with Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody') of the Best British Pop Single 1952-1977 at the Brit awards, part of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee.

The band reformed in 1991 (see 1991 in music) and released 'Prodigal Stranger', but sales were modest. A new incarnation of the band, led by Brooker, has continued touring the US since 1992 (see 1992 in music).

The band name was chosen by its manager, after the name of a friend's cat which roughly translates from Latin as "Beyond these things". The original spelling of the phrase is sometimes given as "Procul Harum". If this is the case then the band's name is in fact a misspelling and one which has frequently been 'corrected' in articles and catalogues.

The asteroid 14024 Procol Harum is named after the band.

External links

de:Procol Harum pl:Procol Harum pt:Procol Harum fi:Procol Harum sv:Procol Harum


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