Watch Billy Joel Honor Gary Brooker With Procol Harum Cover
“A great singer and piano player just passed away,” Joel noted from the stage during his concert at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. “Gary Brooker from Procol Harum. He was a big hero of mine. This was a song that came out during the summer of love.”
The Piano Man then delivered a stirring rendition of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” According to Setlist.fm, Joel had performed the tune on random occasions in the past, including a pair of Cincinnati concerts (one in 2016, the other in 2021). Appropriately, Joel’s rendition in Las Vegas came after the singer rocked through a rendition of his own timeless 1977 hit, “Only the Good Die Young.”
Footage of the performance, along with pictures from throughout Joel’s Las Vegas concert, can be found below.
Brooker died Feb. 19 following a battle with cancer. In a statement confirming his passing, Procol Harum recalled the musician’s “individuality, integrity and occasionally stubborn eccentricity.” "Gary’s charisma was by no means confined to the stage," the statement noted, adding that the rocker “lit up any room he entered, and his kindness to a multilingual family of fans was legendary.”
Earlier in the week, Joel tweeted his condolences.
Brooker formed Procol Harum alongside Keith Reid in 1966. A year later, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" would become their breakout hit. The track spent six weeks at No. 1 on the U.K singles chart and would go on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide.
Joel spoke highly of the track a 2014 SiriusXM Town Hall, hosted by Howard Stern."There’s an influence of classical music. There’s Bach in it and it’s melodic. And it’s different. [Procol Harum] were really different, the way they played."