Gary Brooker, the lead singer, pianist and composer of English rock band Procol Harum, has died at age 76. The band announced the news in a message posted to its official Facebook page Tuesday (Feb. 22), and revealed that the esteemed musician passed away on Feb. 19.
“We’re very sad to announce the death of Gary Brooker. The single defining constant of the band’s 50-year career, Gary’s voice and piano playing was legendary and he leaves behind a legacy that will last for generations,” the group wrote. “He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.”
The Facebook post included a link to a full statement about Brooker on the band’s website. According to Procul Harum, Brooker had been receiving treatment for cancer, and “died peacefully at home.”
Brooker founded Procol Harum alongside friend and member Keith Reid, who served as a lyricist for the group. The band is well known for its 1967 debut single, “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” which was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Singles category in 2018. The track became a Summer of Love anthem — it notably sold a total of 10 million copies worldwide, spent six weeks atop the U.K. charts and reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Procol Harum most recently released Novum — the band’s 13th studio album — in 2017. It was the group’s first set after a 14 year hiatus, after releasing 2003’s The Well’s on Fire.
Brooker was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday Honors on June 14, 2003.
He is survived by his wife, Franky, whom he married in 1968.
The band concluded its statement: “Our thoughts must be with her, their families and friends at this extremely sad time.”