Procol Harum, “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, Live in Denmark, 2006
Procol Harum performing A Whiter Shade of Pale with the Danish National Concert Orchestra and choir at Ledreborg Castle, Denmark in August 2006
“A Whiter Shade of Pale” is the debut single by the English rock band Procol Harum, released 12 May 1967. The record reached number one in the UK Singles Chart on 8 June 1967, and stayed there for six weeks. Without much promotion, it reached No. 5 on the US charts. One of the counterculture anthems of the 1967 Summer of Love, it is one of fewer than 30 singles to have sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
With its Bach-derived instrumental melody, soulful vocals, and unusual lyrics, written by the song’s co-authors Gary Brooker, Keith Reid, and organist Matthew Fisher, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” reached No. 1 in several countries when released in 1967. In the years since, it has become an enduring classic. As of 2009, it was the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the United Kingdom.
The UK performing rights group Phonographic Performance Limited in 2004 recognised it as the most-played record by British broadcasting of the past 70 years. Also in 2004, Rolling Stone placed “A Whiter Shade of Pale” No. 57 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.