Watch Procol Harum play a majestic version of A Whiter Shade Of Pale in the Biba Department Store in London in 1973

Gary Brooker on The Midnight Special
(Image credit: The Midnight Special)

If you'd like an insight into the strange and varied schedule of the average classic rock musician, check out Procol Harum's schedule for October 1973. On the 8th they performed at the 2000-capacity Salle Pleyel theatre in Paris, France. On the 19th they were in Germany to play at Münsterland, a 7000-capacity convention centre in Halle, with support from guitar great Leo Kottke.

And, in-between, they played at the uber-trendy Biba department store back home in London. 

Yesterday we shared a video of Humble Pie performing I Don't Need No Doctor at the same event, a one-off London shoot for US TV show The Midnight Special. Now the Procol Harum footage has been uploaded to the show's ever-excellent YouTube channel, and it doesn't get much more classic than A Whiter Shade Of Pale

According to Procol Harum sound engineer David Pelletier, the band only agreed to play the show at Biba because they believed it was being broadcast live, but in the end it was taped "as live" and finally shown in the US on November 30. This blow may or may not have been softened by the reported attendance of Roxy Music man Bryan Ferry, allegedly dressed in white tuxedo and spats.

Originally released in May 1967, A Whiter Shade Of Pale debuted at Number 11 in the UK, reaching the top a week later. The single stayed at No.1 in the UK for six weeks and remained on the chart for 15. Two and a half million worldwide sales were reported within the first two months, and it's now sold more than 10 million. 

“If you’re going to have a hit that will always be with you," said its co-writer and singer, the late Gary Brooker, "then you couldn’t wish for it to be much better than that one."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.