The music will live forever
The powerful and soulful voice has quieted. Never again will fingers fly over fluttering keys to conjure up the magical opening chords of «A Salty Dog».
On February 19 2022, Gary Brooker died, 76 years old. The vocalist, pianist, composer and frontman of Procol Harum for 55 years, left behind a life's work and a musical universe that will last forever.
After hearing «A Whiter Shade of Pale» many times on the radio, I began to seriously explore Procol Harum in the early '70s. The group is, after all, infinitely more than their famous debut single. Since then, the ties have only grown stronger. When I was alerted of Gary Brooker's passing on the «Beyond the Pale» website this Tuesday, I had to take a short time out.
Many may think that sounds a bit strange. But my interest in music has always been a lifestyle that has permeated and defined much of what I have done over the years. Some bands, artists and records hit you extra hard and become a navigation point in life. For me, Gary Brooker and Procol Harum, along with a few others, have been such a point. Therefore, this February day was a strange day, full of reflection. I felt that my relationship with Procol Harum was not merely an interest, but an emotional passion.
It started with «The Best of Procol Harum», an LP in the Carousel series. The first track, Homburg, faded into the living room. A new world opened up. Not long after, «Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra» arrived. in my opinion, this is to this day one of the best live albums ever made. My first meeting with Procol Harum in concert, came the summer of 1975, at the Student Society in Trondheim. Ole Magne and Bjarne were also present. The experience left its mark on all of us.
I have attended a total of four Procol Harum concerts. Tickets for a fifth in the spring of 2020 in Trondheim were purchased. The corona virus stole that joy from us. Still, the last in the series of Procol Harum concerts, in 2018 in Drammen with Ole Magne, was a terrific ending. After the concert, where 73-year-old Gary Brooker and the rest of the group excelled in an almost shocking way, we got to meet the musicians. Two simple boys dared to strike up a conversation with Gary Brooker. I got to thank him for all the great music he had filled my life with.
It was big there and then. This meeting will forever be a shining memory.
Gary Brooker's journey is over. For those of us lucky enough to have brought this musical genius into our lives, all that is left to say - however sad it may be: Thank you for the company. Rest in peace.
Still there'll be more.