Precision Timing. Not.

If you’re going to sue, don’t wait 40 years.

Gary Brooker, the lead singer of Procol Harum, has regained sole royalty rights to the band’s 1967 hit “A Whiter Shade of Pale” at the Court of Appeal in London, the BBC reported. The decision on Friday overturned a 2006 ruling that the organist Matthew Fisher, who argued he had written the song’s organ melody, was entitled to 40 percent of the royalties. The court agreed that Mr. Fisher had contributed the organ theme but ruled that he had waited too long to make his claim. — NY Times

Seems like rather extraordinary timing, especially for a talented musician. Stranger still, the riff in question was was ripped off: it’s from Air on a G-String, by an even older-timer named J.S. Bach.

Brooker argued that it was his idea to use the theme based on Bach’s ”Air on the G String” that Fisher played on the track, and that he was unable to make his case properly because Fisher did not tell him he was pursuing his legal claim. — NYTimes

Shortly after he departed from the band, Fisher wrote a bitter little tune called “Please Don’t Make Me Song That Song Again.” I can’t recall all the lyrics — we’re talking about the early 70s here, and I hadn’t quit drugs yet (I think. Can’t remember) — but I do remember:

I don’t mind you asking for my autograph
But please don’t ask what happened to my friends.
Please don’t show me any more old photographs
And please don’t make me song that song again.

He’d had it with Procol Harum, he’d had it with Whiter Shade of Pale. He’d also had it with the music business, although he didn’t know it yet. I know of 3 solo albums he put out there, each one lamer than the one before. His music was blandly pleasant, almost pop: people who admired Procol Harum lamented his complete lack of edge, drive, beat. It was like Lennon-less McCartney. Music to snore by.

Fisher himself, now a computer programmer in in his early 60s, has his own twisted sense of vindication from the affair. I just wonder what Bach would have made of it all.

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6 Responses to Precision Timing. Not.

  1. Ms Calabaza says:

    I’m still waiting for my cut on this one. See me on the left, yellow top . . . That be me.

  2. Over It says:

    How can you write so much about matters that nobody on earth could possibly care about any longer?

  3. Johann Sebastien Bach says:

    Not ALL of us are over it. Where’s MY royalty check?

  4. Beethoven says:

    What’d you say?

  5. ya'gotta'guessit says:

    Well, this sort of thing used to be called “variations on a theme”, and wasn’t an uncommon source of melodies in the 18th & 19th centuries – but that was before “artists” could figure on continued income from work that they did as teenagers.

    I live for the day that musicians will again need to sing for their suppers!

  6. Gstring sale says:

    G-string or thong is probably the earliest form of clothing known to mankind; having originated in the warmer climates of sub-Saharan Africa where clothing was first worn nearly 75,000 years ago.

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