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Procol Harum songwriter Keith Reid has died at the age of 76.
The composer – who was best known for having written the lyrics for almost every original track released by the English prog band, other than their twelfth and final studio LP ‘Novum’, released in 2017 – passed away last Thursday after living with cancer for the past few years.
On Wednesday, the group – whose final line-up before disbanding in 2017 consisted of guitarist Geoff Whitehorn, bassist Matt Pegg, keyboardist Josh Phillips and drummer Geoff Dunn – wrote on Facebook: “We are sad to hear of the death of Keith Reid. An unparalleled lyricist Keith wrote the words to virtually all Procol Harum songs, as well as co-writing the John Farnham hit ‘You’re The Voice’. His lyrics were one of a kind and helped to shape the music created by the band. His imaginative, surreal and multi-layered words were a joy to Procol fans and their complexity by design was a powerful addition the Procol Harum catalogue. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.”
A further statement confirmed that the ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ and “Conquistador” lyricist – who is survived by his wife Pinkey – had been receiving treatment for cancer over the course of the last few years.
The statement read: “It is with the deepest sadness that we must announce the passing of the lyricist Keith Reid, who died suddenly on 23 March 2023, in hospital in London. He had been receiving cancer treatment for the past couple of years.
“Keith was the co-founder and lyricist for the band Procol Harum, notably penning their biggest hit ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, which contains some of the most enigmatic lyrics of all time. He always said that, at the end of his life, he would explain what it all meant: but sadly he didn’t get this opportunity.
“Keith was also involved in numerous other projects within entertainment, and was a co-writer on what became known as the unofficial Australian anthem ‘You’re The Voice’, sung by John Farnham.
“His family would like to thank numerous well-wishers for their very kind messages. A private funeral will be held, and this page will be updated soon with details for those who would like to make a donation in his memory.
“Keith will be greatly missed.”