April 17, 1967, a momentous point in pop

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Jan 2013 April 17, 1967, a momentous point in pop


April 17, 1967, a momentous point in pop


Book: Procol Harum: 

The Ghosts Of A Whiter Shade Of Pale

Omnibus Press, £19.95 308 pages


Thirteen minutes and 20 seconds before 4pm on April 17, 1967, was a momentous point in time for pop.

From out on the North Sea, the pirate ship Radio London became the first station to broadcast a record called ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’.

They’d set the ball rolling, and the song was on its way to the top of the charts. But they could have had no idea what a phenomenon they had unleashed.

Not long ago it was hailed as the most-played record across more than 70 years, and it has long been an almost automatic inclusion in polls to name classic singles.

Of course the ever-enigmatic ‘A Whiter Shade…’ – its title taken from a comment overheard at a party – is only part of the Procol Harum story, with the band’s legacy and longevity continuing to arch over the decades.

But it was through ‘A Whiter Shade…’ that Procol’s unique blend of pop, prog-rock and classical elements first captivated countless admirers – among them Martin Scorsese, who has written this book’s ‘Foreword’, and another cinema luminary, Sir Alan Parker, who has provided its ‘Introduction’.

Mixing research and his own interviews with many key Procol Harum figures, Henry Scott-Irvine re-traces the glories (and occasional setbacks) of a group that had its origins in the Southend seaside and an ensemble called the Paramounts that tilled the r’n’b’ soil as well as backing Sandie Shaw for a while.

The hardback volume guides the reader through a saga that incorporates enduring hits, remarkable album tracks, internal ructions, court proceedings, big splits and happy reunions. It also carries a selection of vintage photos and a detailed discography.

Henry Scott-Irvine