Rock’n Roll just lost another legend, Gary Brooker, lead singer, piano player, and principal composer/arranger of Procol Harum. Cancer got him at 76, but first he lived a full life. They shared gigs with The Beatles and Rolling Stones, and Brooker did some studio work with former Beatles post-breakup, and toured with Eric Clapton in the late 70’s. Procol Harum performed together as recently as 2020 and made a dozen mostly good albums, not to mention a few boatloads of money. He was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire a decade ago. The band’s lyricist, Keith Reid, provided the words to most of PH’s numbers, including Whiter Shade of Pale, Good Captain Clack, and both sides of their final singles, War Is Not Healthy and Missing Persons released in 2021. Brooker married in 1968 – only once – and she was with him to the end.
Here he is with the band in 1968 filmed in a live performance of Whiter Shade of Pale. Check out that fellow working the Hammond organ impersonating the Grim Reaper! (Those fingers are boney, but not quite skeletal.)
Brooker’s compositions occasionally echoed classical music. This one’s chords and tempo are reminiscent of J. S. Bach’s Air on a G-string. Here’s modern cellist Hauser in a chamber music performance of that Bach inspiration..
Now, I’ll explain this post’s title: When Kat and I were dating, sometimes I’d make a batch of Harvey Wallbangers, open the door on a nice Sunday afternoon, and turn up Good Captain Clack. We came to call those sweet, powerful drinks Captain Clacks. Here’s the version we heard from their biggest selling album simply titled Procol Harum.
So long, Captain Clack. We’ll miss you.