Tonight all four Beatles went to the Speakeasy in London to see a band called Procol Harum, whose debut single “A Whiter Shade of Pale” had been released on May 12. This song turns up often in Beatle history of this period — playing in the nightclub where Paul met Linda, blasting from the radio of John’s psychedelic Rolls. It goes something like this:

So what, exactly, is a Procol Harum? To the Wikipedia:

Guy Stevens, their original manager, named the band after Gus Dudgeon’s Burmese cat. The cat’s Cat Fancy name was Procul Harun, Procul being the breeder’s prefix.

There’s a lot of history to unpack in that one short graf. Guy Stevens, for starters, is a music industry legend — not only did he give the Harum and Mott the Hoople their names, he went on to produce the Clash’s London Calling. Gus Dudgeon, meanwhile, engineered and/or produced a lot of David Bowie’s early work, including “The Laughing Gnome” and “Space Oddity”; he later worked with everyone from the Bonzo Dog Band and Elton John to Joan Armatrading and XTC. Both of them are long gone — Stevens from a drug overdose, Dudgeon from a car accident — but they served honorably.

Procol Harum, on the other hand, is still around, sort of — they released a new album last month and are on tour even as we speak, though the only original member left at this point is singer and pianist Gary Brooker. He is 71 now, which means he was only 21 that night in 1967. Ah, to be young in Swinging London, with a hit single on the charts and an audience full of Beatles….

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