Bach to the future: why A Whiter Shade of Pale has endured

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What’s it about? Sex? Drugs? Death? Procol Harum’s mysterious, classically influenced song, released exactly 50 years ago, was an unlikely hit but went on to sell 10m copies

I was just 14 when I first heard it, walking through the Hertfordshire countryside in the middle of the night. Ostensibly, I was doing a 27-mile sponsored school walk. But really, like a lot of us, I was clutching a transistor radio and trying to tune into those daring pirate DJs afloat on Radio Caroline.

That’s when I first came across the mournful, beautiful sound of A Whiter Shade of Pale. Who was behind such music? Procal what? Surely the definite article was missing? (Even Pink Floyd were called The Pink Floyd back then.)

It is the most played song in public places in the UK and the most played record ever on British radio

Its longevity has been helped by its appearance in many movies – and some sickly animated ads for paint

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Music blog | The Guardian

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