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Gary Brooker
Gary Brooker (Shutterstock)

Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker Dead At 76

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(CelebrityAccess) — Gary Brooker MBE, singer, pianist and composer and founding member of the baroque rock band Procol Harum has died after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

His death was announced by the fellow members of his group, who said he died peacefully, at home, on February 19th.

Born in East London, Brooker came from a musical family and his father, Harry Brooker was a professional musician, playing pedal steel guitar with Felix Mendelssohn’s Hawaiian Serenaders.

Brooker formed his first band, The Paramounts with his guitarist friend Robin Trower in 1962 and found modest success their initial single, “Poison Ivy” but failed to break through to the charts with subsequent releases and the group split in 1966.

The following year, Brooker formed Procul Harum with several former members of The Paramounts, including Trower, multi-instrumentalist Chris Copping, and rock drummer B.J. Wilson.

Procol Harum quickly found success, breaking through with their first single, “Knights In White Satin,” a baroque rock song that fused elements of contemporary and classical music that quickly topped charts in both the US and the UK and became one of the defining hits of the ‘Summer of Love.’

After Procol Harum split ways in 1977, Brooker ventured out on his own as a solo artist, recording “No More Fear of Flying” which proved to be a modest success and performed with other artists, including Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Alan Parsons.

In 1991, he reunited with many of the former members of Procol Harum to relaunch the group and continued to record and perform with them throughout the early years of the 21st century, including on their most recent album, 2017’s “Novum.”

In addition to music, Brooker was tireless in his efforts to help raise money for charitable causes and was recognized for his work in 2003 when he was invited to join the Order of the British Empire.

In July 1968 Brooker married Françoise “Franky” Riedo, a Swiss au pair, whom he met in 1965. The couple had no children.

A private funeral service is being organized with a memorial celebration planned later. The family asks that donations in Brooker’s memory be made to Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care.

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