Celebrities

Procol Harum star Gary Brooker dead aged 76

Procol Harum star Gary Brooker dead aged 76: A Whiter Shade of Pale rocker passes away following cancer battle

  • Gary was known for singing and co-writing the hit song A Whiter Shade of Pale
  • The rocker passed away on February 19 after being diagnosed with cancer 
  • Gary had been receiving treatment but died peacefully at home
  • Gary married Françoise Riedo, a Swiss au pair in 1968, three years after meeting
  • The couple, who lived together in Surrey, never had any children 

Procol Harum lead singer Gary Brooker has died aged 76.

The rocker, who was known for singing and co-writing the hit song A Whiter Shade of Pale, passed away on February 19 after being diagnosed with cancer. 

A statement posted on the band’s website on Tuesday confirmed that Gary had been receiving treatment but died peacefully at home. 

Sad news: Procol Harum lead singer Gary Brooker has died aged 76 (pictured with his wife Francoise at their home in Surrey)

It read: ‘With the deepest regret we must announce the death on 19 February 2022 of Gary Brooker MBE, singer, pianist and composer of Procol Harum, and a brightly-shining, irreplaceable light in the music industry. 

‘Aged 76, he had been receiving treatment for cancer, but died peacefully at home.’

‘He lit up any room he entered, and his kindness to a multilingual family of fans was legendary.

‘He was notable for his individuality, integrity, and occasionally stubborn eccentricity. His mordant wit, and appetite for the ridiculous, made him a priceless raconteur (and his surreal inter-song banter made a fascinating contrast with the gravitas of Procol Harum’s performances).’

Heyday: The rocker, who was known for singing and co-writing the hit song A Whiter Shade of Pale, passed away on February 19 after being diagnosed with cancer (pictured with the band)

They continued: ‘His first single with Procol Harum, 1967’s A Whiter Shade of Pale, is widely regarded as defining The Summer of Love, yet it could scarcely have been more different from the characteristic records of that era.

‘Nor was it characteristic of his own writing. Over 13 albums, Procol Harum never sought to replicate it, preferring to forge a restlessly progressive path, committed to looking forward, and making each record a ‘unique entertainment’.

‘Gary’s voice and piano were the single defining constant of Procol’s fifty-year international concert career. Without any stage antics or other gimmicks he was invariably the most watchable musician in the show (he played several other instruments in the studio).’ 

He had married Françoise Riedo, a Swiss au pair affectionately known as Franky in 1968 after meeting three years earlier. They didn’t have any children. 

Tragic: A statement posted on the band’s website on Tuesday confirmed that Gary had been receiving treatment but died peacefully at home (pictured L-R Dave Knights, Mathew Celestial-Smith, Robin Trower,Barrie James Wilson and Gary)

It read: ‘With the deepest regret we must announce the death on 19 February 2022 of Gary Brooker MBE, singer, pianist and composer of Procol Harum’

The late rock star was born in Hackney, where he spent the first nine years of his life before his family uprooted to Southend-On-Sea in Essex. 

The frontman initially studied zoology at Southend Municipal College before deciding music was the route he wanted to take. 

During the Queen’s Birthday honours on 14 June 2003, Gary was appointed an MBE in recognition of his charitable services.  

Icon: The late rock star was born in Hackney, where he spent the first nine years of his life before his family uprooted to Southend-On-Sea in Essex (pictured July 2014)

Memories: The frontman initially studied zoology at Southend Municipal College before deciding music was the route he wanted to take

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