Procol Harum’s Lyricist Keith Reid Passed Away At 76
via Jack Ponissi / Youtube
The primary lyricist for Procol Harum, Keith Reid, has passed away at the age of 76.
The band confirmed the songwriter’s passing on a Facebook post that reads:
“We are sad to hear of the death of Keith Reid.
“An unparalleled lyricist, Keith wrote the words to virtually all Procol Harum songs, as well as co-writing the John Farnham hit ‘You’re the Voice.’ His lyrics were one of a kind and helped to shape the music created by the band. His imaginative, surreal and multi-layered words were a joy to Procol fans and their complexity by design was a powerful addition [to] the Procol Harum catalog. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.”
Reid was born in Hertfordshire, England in 1946. He left school at an early age to pursue his songwriting career and in 1966, he met singer Gary Brooker who just departed his previous group, the Paramounts. The two began writing music together. They’ve created materials that were initially meant for other artists but later on decided to create a band of their own.
Brooker became the lead vocals of Procol Harum, while Reid remained the band’s primary songwriter. Although they went through a wide range of lineup changes, with many musicians coming and going, Brooker and Reid remained in their roles during the band’s initial run from 1967 to 1977 and released nine studio albums.
“A Whiter Shade of Pale” was their most successful single that was released on May 12, 1967. It became a hit No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 5 in America and sold more than 10 million copies during the Summer of Love, ranking it among the best-selling singles in music history.
In 2009, Reid noted to Songfacts explaining the track’s lyrics:
“It’s sort of a film, really, trying to conjure up mood and tell a story.
“It’s about a relationship. There’s characters and there’s a location, and there’s a journey. You get the sound of the room and the feel of the room and the smell of the room. But certainly there’s a journey going on, it’s not a collection of lines just stuck together. It’s got a thread running through it.”
In 1977, Procol Harum disbanded and Reid began writing for other artists. In the mid-‘80s, he founded a management company in New York, before later reuniting with Brooker and Procol Harum in 1991. Reid contributed to two further albums with the band, The Prodigal Stranger (1991) and The Well’s on Fire (2003).