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Asking for a wider share of sales

Stephen Beard Nov 14, 2006


[ Song: A Whiter Shade of Pale ]

SCOTT JAGOW: Oh, man does this song take you back or what? “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was one of the biggest hits of the ’60s. It’s still played on the radio a lot, still making money for the British band Procul Harum. But this week, those guys went to court. One of the former members wants a wider share of sales. Here’s Stephen Beard:

[ Song: A Whiter Shade of Pale
“We skip the light fandango . . .”

STEPHEN BEARD: The lyrics were incomprehensible, but the song certainly struck a chord. Released in 1967, it was an instant hit and it went on to sell more than 10 million singles.

But almost 40 years later, the man who played the haunting organ solo says he should get a share of the royalties. The two accredited composers say they wrote the whole thing long before the organist joined the band.

Millions of dollars could be at stake says copyright lawyer, Conan Chitham:

CONAN CHITHAM: It was written 40 years ago, it’s still making money today and it will still make money for the rest of the lives of the composers and 70 years beyond that so it could be very valuable.

Whatever the outcome of the case the unsung hero of this pop classic will never see a penny of the royalties. The organ solo was based heavily on Bach and he’s been dead for 250 years.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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