Whiter Shade of Pale dispute goes to the House of Lords

December 2008

Music Publishing

The dispute between Procol Harum frontman Gary Brooker and the band’s original keyboardist Matthew Fisher over who wrote the famous organ music that appears in their biggest hit ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ is heading to the House of Lords. The song was originally credited to Brooker and Keith Reid and for nearly four decades that claim went undisputed with the duo receiving all the royalties generated by the track. The High Court found in Fisher’s favour, ruling he did write the organ music in the song and that he was therefore due 40% of the money generated by it, albeit only from the point where he filed his initial lawsuit in 2005 (this equated to 20% of the songs overall royalties including lyrics). Brooker promptly appealed, and earlier this year the Court of Appeal ruled that, while it accepted Fisher did contribute the organ melody to the song, because he had taken so long to make his claim he shouldn’t be given any royalties past, present or future. Fisher is now appealing the appeal and the House Of Lords have accepted his case. Confirming the case would now proceed to a second appeal stage, Fisher told reporters last week: “I’m delighted that the House of Lords have decided to take my appeal, and I remain hopeful that my claim will be allowed in full”.

See Music Law Updates May 2008 Court of Appeal allow appeal against Procul Harum organist Brooker Onward Music v Fisher [2008] EWCA Civ 287  

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