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'Whiter Shade' organist wins

July 31, 2009|Associated Press

He didn't skip the light fandango, but Procol Harum's former keyboardist said he was delighted Thursday after Britain's top court ruled he was entitled to a share of royalties from the band's hit "A Whiter Shade of Pale."

Judges in the House of Lords said Matthew Fisher, who played the track's distinctive Hammond organ intro, should get a portion of future royalties from the song.

Renowned for its mystifying lyrics (beginning "We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels cross the floor"), the song was one of the signature hits of 1967's Summer of Love. It topped the British singles chart for five weeks and was a Top 10 hit in the U.S.

Fisher, 62, now a computer programmer, left the British band in 1969 but 35 years later began a legal battle for a share in the song's copyright.

Procol Harum singer Gary Brooker argued that it was his idea to use the Bach-inspired theme that Fisher played on the track. Brooker, who still tours with the band, said he and lyricist Keith Reid wrote the song before Fisher joined in March 1967.

Fisher said he was delighted by the victory, which was "never about money."

"There will not be a lot of that anyway," he said. "But this was about making sure everyone knew about my part in the authorship. A win without money was never going to be recognized as a win at all."

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