Gary Brooker, the vocalist for Procol Harum, allegedly died on February 19, 2022, at the age of 76. His death was revealed in a joint statement by his band on their official website:
“With sad sorrow, we must announce the death on February 19, 2022, of Gary Brooker MBE, Procol Harum’s vocalist, pianist, and songwriter, and a brightly-shining, irreplaceable light in the music business.”
According to Procol Harum, Brooker died quietly at his home following a battle with cancer. Franky Brooker, his wife, survives him. The band also said that the guitarist’s private burial and memorial ceremony would be planned later. Gary Brooker was an English singer, composer, and pianist best known as the founder and main vocalist of the legendary 1960s rock band Procol Harum. He was also a member of the Southend beat group The Paramounts. Aside from his work with Procol Harum, the musician has collaborated with Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, among others.
RIP Gary Brooker, lead singer of Procol Harum, who has died at the age of 76.
Brooker passed away peacefully at his home at the weekend. pic.twitter.com/BPr5sYbtLP
— Gold Radio (@GoldRadioUk) February 22, 2022
A look back at Gary Brooker’s life.
Gary Brooker was born on May 29, 1945, at East London’s Hackney Hospital. He was the son of musician Harry Brooker and began playing instruments as a kid, including the piano, trombone, and cornet. He went to Westcliff High School for Boys before transferring to Southend Municipal College to study zoology and botany. Later, the singer dropped out of college to pursue a career in music. In 1962, the musician formed The Paramounts with guitarist Robin Trower. The band had tremendous success in the 1960s British R&B scene before disbanding in 1966.
Brooker co-founded Procol Harum with his buddy Keith Reid after the band disbanded in 1966. A Whiter Shade of Pale, the band’s 1967 single, became a worldwide success and renowned as a song defining “The Summer of Love.” After Procol Harum disbanded in 1977, Brooker embarked on a solo career, releasing his first solo album, No More Fear of Flying, in 1979. He also joined Eric Clapton’s band that year, contributing to their studio album Another Ticket.
In addition, the vocalist joined Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings and toured with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr ensemble. In 1996, he played as part of the Gary Brooker Ensemble in a charity event to raise cash for St Mary and All Saints Church in Surrey. Brooker also starred in the film adaption of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita the same year, with Madonna, Jonathan Pryce, and Antonio Banderas. In 2005, the performer planned another charity event and played a sold-out show at Guildford Cathedral to assist collect funds for the tsunami relief effort.
He was also a long-time supporter of the Countryside Alliance, for which he performed multiple times to raise donations. Brooker was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on June 14, 2003, in recognition of his charitable contributions. On October 28, 2009, he was also awarded a BASCA for his contribution to music.