A Whiter Shade of Pale

1967 single by Procol Harum / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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"A Whiter Shade of Pale" is a song by the English rock band Procol Harum that was issued as their debut record on 12 May 1967. The single reached number 1 in the UK Singles Chart on 8 June and stayed there for six weeks.[6] Without much promotion, it reached number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[7] One of the anthems of the 1967 Summer of Love, it is one of the most commercially successful singles in history, having sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.[8] In the years since, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" has become an enduring classic, with more than 1,000 known cover versions by other artists.[9][10]

Quick facts: "A Whiter Shade of Pale", Single by Procol Ha...
"A Whiter Shade of Pale"
Single by Procol Harum
B-side"Lime Street Blues"
Released12 May 1967 (1967-05-12)
RecordedApril 1967
StudioOlympic Sound, London
  • 4:03 (original single/album version)
  • 5:54 (50th anniversary stereo remix)
Producer(s)Denny Cordell
Procol Harum singles chronology
"A Whiter Shade of Pale"

With its Bach-derived instrumental melody, soulful vocals, melancholic tone, and unusual lyrics, the music of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" was composed by Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher, while the lyrics were written by Keith Reid.[11] Originally, the writing credits only listed Brooker and Reid. In 2009, Fisher won co-writing credit for the music in a unanimous ruling from the Law Lords.

In 1977, the song was named joint winner (along with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody") of "The Best British Pop Single 1952–1977" at the Brit Awards.[12] In 1998, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[13] In 2004, the performing rights group Phonographic Performance Limited recognised it as the most-played record by British broadcasting of the past 70 years[14] and Rolling Stone placed it 57th on its list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". In 2009, it was reported as the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the UK.[15]

The song has been included in many music compilations over the decades and has also been used in the soundtracks of numerous films and television shows, including The Big Chill, Purple Haze, Breaking the Waves, The Boat That Rocked, Tour of Duty, House M.D., Martin Scorsese's segment of New York Stories, Stonewall, Oblivion, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's documentary series The Vietnam War, the 2022 limited series The Offer, and Memory. Cover versions of the song have also been featured in many films, for example, by King Curtis in Withnail and I and by Annie Lennox in The Net.