A High Court judge today ruled that the former organist in Procal Harum was entitled to a 40% share in ownership of the 1967 cult classic "A Whiter Shade of Pale."

Musical judge Mr Justice William Blackburne -- who read music and law at Cambridge and confessed in court to being "of an age" to remember the "Summer of Love" -- backed organist Matthew Fisher's claim to a share of the copyright in the track.

However he stopped short of awarding Fisher, 60, the equal share he had sought, and declined to order Procul Harum vocalist and pianist Gary Brooker -- to whom the song has, for decades, been solely credited -- to hand over a share of past royalties.

The judge ruled that Fisher's interest in the work should be reflected by giving him a lesser share of the song, with that figure only to apply to royalties dated after May 31, 2005, when the claim was launched.

"His contribution to the overall work was on any view substantial but not, in my judgment, as substantial as that of Mr Brooker," Blackburne said. "As between the two, it seems to me that Mr Brooker should be accorded the greater share."

The result will be worth far less to Brooker than the ?1 million he was said to be seeking. He will now face the prospect of paying a large share of the overall legal costs bill in the case, which could run as high as a ?1 million.

The judge rejected Fisher's "restitutionary claim" for past royalties, ruling that he had "sat back" for nearly 40 years and allowed Brooker and music company Onward Music Ltd to collect royalties they believed were rightfully theirs.

In bringing his claim, Fisher had argued that he wrote the entirety of the organ music and that this was "crucial to the success of the song".

He sued Brooker and his publishing company Onward Music Ltd seeking a declaration that he was the co-author, and an order for damages.

The claim was "strongly contested" by Brooker and the music company. They claimed that what Fisher played on the organ was "essentially the same" as what Brooker had composed on the piano, and that to the extent to which Fisher made any contributions to the song, they were to its arrangement for recording not its composition.

They claimed he consented to the recording incorporating his organ arrangement on the terms set out under the band's recording contract, which credits Brooker for the music.

They also argued that the "bizarre and obviously prejudicial" 38-year delay between the release of the song and this claim should cause it to fail on that ground alone.

In 2004, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" was named as the most-played record of the past 70 years in the United Kingdom, in a chart compiled by collecting society Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) to mark its 70th anniversary.