Musician Turned Programmer Wins Rights To '60s Classic 'Whiter Shade Of Pale'

A London High Court judge awarded Matthew Fisher a 40% cut of the royalties generated by the song, which is generally credited to bandmates Gary Brooker and Keith Reid.
A British court Wednesday awarded database programmer Matthew Fisher a share of the royalties from Procol Harum's cultish pop classic "Whiter Shade Of Pale."

Fisher operates Durham Software in the London suburb of South Croydon. Incidentally, he's also the organist who in 1967 wrote and played the moody strains that haunt the opening of the hit record, which has sold about 10 million copies worldwide.

According to the British Broadcasting Corp., a London High Court judge awarded Fisher a 40% cut of the royalties generated by the song. Bandmates Gary Brooker and Keith Reid are generally credited with writing the tune. Brooker was contesting the award.

However, Judge William Blackburne said the opening keyboard solo "is a distinctive contribution" to what Rolling Stone called the 57th greatest pop song of all time. The judge granted Brooker's attorney the right to appeal, according to the BBC.

On his Web site,, Fisher said he was seeking a declaration that he is co-author "of the music in the song entitled 'Whiter Shade of Pale.'" Repeated calls to Fisher's company on Wednesday were met with a busy signal.

Fisher, 61, graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in computer science in 1995. In a 2001 interview with a local newspaper, the Croydon Advertiser, Fisher said he preferred the computer business to the music industry. "I got a bit sick of the music business as a whole," Fisher told the paper.

Fisher isn't the only '60s pop icon to have entered the technology business. Former Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young singer Graham Nash now operates a digital printing company, Nash Editions, in Manhattan Beach, Calif.