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Gary Brooker

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Gary Brooker, MBE, (born 29 May 1945, Hackney, East London), is an English singer, songwriter, pianist, and founder of the rock band, Procol Harum. Brooker was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on June 14, 2003 in recognition of his charitable services.

Brooker grew up in the seaside resort of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England, as did most of the other founding members of Procol Harum.

He founded The Paramounts in 1962 with his guitarist friend Robin Trower. The band gained respect within the burgeoning 1960s British R ‘n’ B scene, which yielded The Beatles, The Animals, The Spencer Davis Group, The Rolling Stones, and many others. The Stones, in particular, were Paramounts fans, giving them guest billing on several memorable shows in the early 1960s.

In 1966, Brooker founded Procol Harum. “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is the worldwide hit that Procol Harum is best known for, but Brooker’s melancholy vocals and emotive, eclectic piano playing were a key part of Procol’s musical mix for the entire course of the band’s career. In the early years Brooker, Hammond organist Matthew Fisher, and Trower were the guiding musical forces behind the band, but after disparities in style became too much and Fisher and Trower left, Brooker was the clear leader until the band broke up in 1977.

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