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Keith Reid, lyricist of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale', Procol Harum's song that defines the Summer of Love, dies


The artist, who has died at the age of 76, wrote the piece in 1967 and was part of the soundtrack of an era

The case of Keith Reid is unusual in the history of pop.

He was a member of a successful band (Procol Harum), but neither sang nor played any instrument.

He wrote the songs.

And he was not satisfied with being in his apartment surrounded by papers and looking for inspiration.

He would pose in promotional photos with the rest of the band, give interviews, and even travel with them to concerts.

It was one more.

Reid died this Thursday at the age of 76 in London after battling cancer for the past 24 months.

Undoubtedly his most famous text was for the song

A Whiter Shade of Pale,

a song from 1967, the year of the Summer of Love, the

hippy dream,

psychedelia, LSD, the cultural and social revolution and the possibility of changing the state of things that faded with the arrival of the following decade.

In Spain the song was colloquially called “la del fandango”, because the first sentence said “We skipped the light fandango” (which could be translated as “we danced a soft fandango”).

It was played at parties at the end of the sixties, a moment that was used to dance as a couple.

There was some version in Spanish, like the one by Los Pop Tops, titled

Con su blanca palidez


Keith Reed was born in Welwyn Garden City, 30 kilometers north of London, in 1946. In 1966 he met singer and instrumentalist Gary Brooker, they got along and decided to form a musical partnership.

They formed Procol Harum and were incorporating instrumentalists.

They made their big debut with

A Whiter Shade of Pale


After a half-minute introduction with an organ playing in the foreground, Brooker begins singing the lyrics, a psychedelic trip Reed began writing at a party.

“It's actually kind of a movie that tries to evoke a mood and tell a story.

It is the story of a relationship.

There are characters, there is a place, and there is a journey”, Reed has recounted over the years.

The lyrics have a lot of the zeitgeist: spinning rooms, distorting faces, buzzing.

A psychedelic fantasy, an acid trip.

Reed confessed that his example at the time of writing was Bob Dylan.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

was number one in the UK and five in the US.

Years later he had another sales peak with a dramatic version of Joe Cocker.

Procol Harum never had such a big success.

The one that came closest was


also from 1967, another ecstatic ballad with a psychedelic air, his great specialty.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

has a sour history.

The band's keyboardist, Matthew Fisher,

he claimed part of the song's authorship on the grounds that the organ melody was his.

In 2006 a judge ruled that 40% of the copyright of the subject corresponded to Fisher.

The musician heard the news while working as a computer programmer in London.

Since then,

A Whiter Shade of Pale

has been signed by Keith Reid, Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher.

Reed wrote most of Procol Harum's songs during the 1960s and 1970s.

The band broke up in 1977 and then returned in the 1990s, with Reed also serving as lyricist, but more occasionally as he was focused on managing artists.

The group has said goodbye to him with these words: “His lyrics were unique and helped shape the music created by the band.

His imaginative, surreal, complex and multi-layered words were a joy to fans of Procol and of a time.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends of his."

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2023-03-30

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