Gary Brooker

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Gary Brooker

Gary Brooker passed from this earth Saturday, Feb 19, 2022. He was the voice, piano, and composer in the English band Procol Harum (named after a friend’s cat’s birth certificate). Mr. Brooker lit up many a musical imagination with over fifty years leading that band. He was a huge influence on my music path.

The Paramounts

Gary spent 1960-66 playing R&B and soul in the English band The Paramounts. Brooker decided to become a songwriter exclusively. He was introduced to lyricist Keith Reid. They began writing songs to present to others. Since no one seemed interested in recording/performing them, he formed Procol Harum originally for that purpose in 1967.

Classical-Influenced Rock

Procol Harum was a band that featured classical-influenced rock music. The lineup featured both piano and organ, not one or the other. This unique pairing allowed for many more textures, lending to classical music extension. They had a very dynamic range, from whisper to most intense. Their first release was the huge hit “Whiter Shade of Palein 1967, and they toured on and off until 2019.

During those 52 years, Gary Brooker and Procol Harum (despite the many personnel changes) recorded thirteen studio and eight live albums. Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra particularly stands out for its 1972 hit recording of “Conquistador“. By the way, Gary wrote the orchestral arrangement for it, as well.

April 15, 1973

On April 15, 1973 in Charleston, Illinois, I witnessed Procol Harum in concert. The band was touring for their new (at the time) Grand Hotel album, and they were in a class by themselves. I saw the complete command of artists at work (side note: Their drummer- the late B.J. Wilson- played drums sounding like a whole orchestral percussion section playing along with his drum kit-amazing!). Blazing the way forward, Gary Brooker was the one constant the entire time. Below is a live clip from that same time period:

Procul Harum live in studio, 1973.

Like No One Else

Procol Harum sounded like no one else before or since Gary Brooker. Although his music was sophisticated, there was a working man mentality that kept it nailed to the ground. He didn’t underestimate anyone’s intelligence; kept the listener challenged.

Gary Brooker showed me that anything could be achieved musically, something I’ve always carried along my convoluted way.

© 2022 J. Mark Witters Skyypilot Media Skyypilot.com

After All…

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After All

After all has been said and done, what is left? One spends a lifetime accumulating “things”, position, wealth (monetary/spiritual/knowledge/skills), praise, rewards. To what avail? When you leave this planet, it will be the same way you came in- with nothing materially. You really can’t take it with you. Accolades really mean nothing. You can be the fastest, smartest, trendiest, sharpest, most striking- doesn’t ultimately matter, does it?

Perspective

How time can change one’s perspective! My obsession with music led me to try starting bands when I was young- never worked out. Committed to the unique, I found ways to ultimately do it myself. Personal freedom to both succeed and fail is the real prize. My goal is to produce music that is interesting to me. If others like it, great! If not,as long as I like it, that’s what counts.

Time

Time will ultimately take it’s toll. The physical body breaks down. Mortality stares you in the face. What will be left? Your works; your legacy of love or hate. It’s hard to make proper choices, but we must try. As long as you can face yourself, that’s all that matters.

Limitless © 2021 J. Mark Witters Skyypilot Media Skyypilot.com

© 2021 J. Mark Witters Skyypilot Media Skyypilot.com

Truly Blessed

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Truly Blessed

I feel truly blessed.

You see, I had stage-four tongue cancer twelve years ago. Even though still here, by the grace of God, I can no longer play guitar due to nerve adhesion caused by the radiation; developing years later. However, there exists excellent software that will play my notation or keyboard triggering with great-sounding guitars. Work-a rounds are available to those who look. That’s the key. (The song I’m finishing-up has14 guitars scattered about!)

Just to have given the chance to experience life for another twelve years is amazing! I’m throwing myself into my work while I’m still here… To quote Phil Ochs:

And I won’t feel the flowing of the time when I’m gone
All the pleasures of love will not be mine when I’m gone
My pen won’t pour a lyric line when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here
– “When I’m Gone”- Phil Ochs

What’s Really Important?

What’s really important, anyway? Looking back, the things that once seemed so important are nothing today.

“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall” 1 Peter 1:24

You can be at the top of your field, but it’s only temporary. The same for being on the “lowest rung”. Life is change, but you decide just what that change should be. Any outward advantage is not permanent. Pick your priorities and stick with them. Trust God.

Do What You Love

Do what you love. We are each truly blessed with a uniqueness that cannot be replicated. I had the crazy idea Fifty years ago to record original music, knowing the odds of my commercial “success” were impossible. (I don’t tour.) Fifty years later, I’m still doing just that- taking a blank canvas, “painting” songs, writing lyrics (and blog), editing music videos on my website, and distributing songs world-wide. Although “commercial” success isn’t there, my “artistic” success thrives. Self -satisfaction cannot be bought.

God has a plan for each one of us. If you do what you love, you are truly blessed!

Forgive

Raise the vibration, thank God for life.
End the frustration, stop the needless strife.
We all want freedom, we all seek love.
Forgive those who wrong you; you’ll be forgiven Above.

Time and again, we stop to imagine peace on all the earth…
I believe faith will move this mountain; I believe in spiritual rebirth.

Infinite blessing, abundance thrives.
Jesus lives in darkest night and deepest of dives.
Struggles are over, shadows have passed.
Live in the sunshine. High tides and green grass.

Quick commutation, God’s in control.
Realization has strayed from the fold.
Unlimited access. Mission of love.
Forgive all transgressions; you’ll be forgiven Above.

© 2021 J. Mark Witters Skyypilot Media https://www.skyypilot.com/