Keith Reid, ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ lyricist, dies at 76 Lalrp


Keith Reid, who wrote the lyrics for “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and about 100 subsequent songs by the British band Procol Harum, died March 23 at a hospital in London. He was 76.

The trigger was colon most cancers that had metastasized to his liver, based on his spouse, Pinkey Reid.

“A Whiter Shade of Pale,” Procol Harum’s first track and its biggest widespread success by far, was issued in Might 1967, in the beginning of what would later be remembered because the “Summer time of Love.” It went instantly to the highest of the charts in a lot of the world and stays one of many songs most intently related to the hippie motion.

For his half, Mr. Reid disclaimed any psychedelic affect and stated that his summary, melancholy phrases got here from “books, not medicine.”

“I had the phrase ‘a whiter shade of pale’,” he stated in a 2008 interview with the web site procolharum.com. “That was a begin, and I knew it was a track.”

“It’s like a jigsaw the place you’ve obtained one piece, then you definately make up all of the others to suit it,” he continued. “I used to be attempting to conjure a temper as a lot as inform an easy, girl-leaves-boy story. With the ceiling flying away and room buzzing tougher, I needed to color a picture of a scene. I wasn’t attempting to be mysterious with these pictures, I used to be attempting to be evocative.”

The music was derived by pianist and vocalist Gary Brooker from J.S. Bach and performed on what gave the impression of a pipe organ. It was a flash hit: As Mr. Reid remembered, the group went from rehearsing in an area church corridor to the British TV music present “High of the Pops.”

“We had been continually attempting to meet up with the tempo,” he stated. “I don’t assume we ever did. The royalties we obtained then could be thought-about laughable now. However we had been simply so blissful to make a document. We had been only a bunch of youngsters, actually.”

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” bought greater than 10 million copies in its first 5 years — it was reissued and have become successful once more in 1972 — and was later rerecorded in preparations for string quartet and full orchestra, for mariachi band and sitar ensemble. Artists as disparate as Mantovani, Percy Sledge, Annie Lennox and Sarah Brightman recorded the track, and tens of hundreds have sung it to karaoke accompaniment.

Procol Harum was not a “one-hit marvel” band. “Homburg” was widespread in Europe in 1968 and one other early track, “Conquistador,” rerecorded by the group with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in Canada, was a middling hit in the summertime of 1972.

The group’s albums had been a lot admired for his or her combination of classical and blues components, together with screaming dissonances from Robin Trower’s guitar, a searing backdrop from Matthew Fisher’s organ and the terse precision of B.J. Wilson’s drumming.

The self-titled first album was adopted by “Shine on Brightly” (1968), “A Salty Canine” (1969), “Dwelling” (1970) and “Damaged Barricades” (1971), amongst others. The group broke up initially in 1977 however re-formed on a number of events.

Though the title Procol Harum was stated to be Latin for “past this stuff” — maybe befitting the elevated, otherworldly qualities of the band’s songs — it was truly the title of a good friend’s cat.

“We truly misspelled the title; we must always have spelled it ‘Prucul Harum,’” he advised the Toronto Star in 1991. “By the point we came upon we’d spelled it improper, they’d already pressed the data and ‘Procol’ was within the charts, so we needed to keep it up.”

Keith Stuart Brian Reid was born in Welwyn Backyard Metropolis, north of London, on Oct. 19, 1946. He was raised in an observant Jewish family.

His father was a lawyer in Vienna till he was arrested throughout the antisemitic assaults on Kristallnacht in November 1938. He was taken to the Dachau focus camp for months till he was ultimately permitted to to migrate to England together with his youthful brother; his dad and mom disappeared within the Holocaust.

“The tone of my work may be very darkish,” Keith Reid stated in a 2003 interview with Scott R. Benarde, the creator of a research of Judaism and rock. “I feel it’s most likely from my background in some unconscious method.”

A mutual good friend launched Mr. Reid to Brooker at a live performance the singer was taking part in in 1966 with one other band, the Paramounts. Mr. Reid gave Brooker the phrases, and a celebrated crew was born when the 2 males determined to construct a band round their songs. (As time went on, Mr. Reid additionally wrote music for Procol Harum songs by Trower and Fisher.)

The lyrics all the time got here first, with Mr. Reid’s phrases setting the temper for Brooker’s creativeness. “I’ve not discovered it potential to write down phrases to go well with a bit of Gary’s music,” Mr. Reid advised Melody Maker journal in 1973. Certainly, like their legendary predecessors Gilbert and Sullivan, the boys had been by no means shut buddies.

“I don’t know Keith from Adam,” Brooker advised the Washington Occasions in 2003. “He’s a really deep individual and a really non-public individual. Though we work collectively, and we generally talk in a really intimate method. Typically baring our souls. However on the finish of the day, I don’t know who he’s.”

When the group broke up for the primary time, Mr. Reid was at sea. “I hadn’t written with anyone else, and so all the things I did was Procol Harum music,” he later stated. But within the Nineteen Eighties, he teamed up with fellow songwriters Andy Qunta, Maggie Ryder and Chris Thompson to create a track known as “You’re the Voice” that was recorded by the Australian singer John Farnham. It was successful in many of the world however barely charted in the US.

Survivors embrace his spouse, the previous Pinkie Sidhu, his companion of 38 years whom he married in 2004.

In 1986, Mr. Reid moved to New York and commenced writing with many different musicians. In 2008, he began the Keith Reid Venture, through which different songwriters recorded songs to Mr. Reid’s lyrics; two albums have been issued up to now, “The Widespread Thread” (2008) and “In My Head” (2018).