Classic 60s song's organist wins royalties battle

Posted by: Piano World

Classic 60s song's organist wins royalties battle - 07/30/09 03:55 PM

© CNN

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The organist on the seminal 1960s song "A Whiter Shade of Pale" has won a long-running legal battle for a share in the royalties for the tune.

Matthew Fisher sued former Procol Harum bandmate Gary Brooker in the House of Lords, Britain's highest court.

A lower court had ruled in his favor in 2006, granting him co-writing credits and a share of the royalties. Another court partly overturned the ruling in 2008, giving Fisher co-writing credit but no money.

The Court of Appeal said Fisher had waited too long to bring his claim to court. The House of Lords disagreed, said there was no time limit on such claims.

Fisher -- whose organ chords open the anthemic song and carry the psychedelic tune through its final swells -- says on his Web site that the song is the most-played ever on the books of Phonographic Performance Ltd.

Lord David Neuberger of Abbotsbury said the organist had played a key role in the success of the song.

"Fisher's subsequent contribution was significant, and, especially the introductory eight bars, an important factor in the work's success," he wrote in his verdict.

The ruling could be worth a lot of money to him.

BBC television, for example, pays £43.89 ($72.40) per minute in royalties each time it plays the four-minute song, according to PRS for Music, which collects royalties on behalf of music writers, composers and publishers

BBC Radio 2 pays £19.35 ($31.92) per minute.

Writers and composers receive royalties until 70 years after their death in the British system.

The Article on CNN


Posted by: eweiss

Re: Classic 60s song's organist wins royalties battle - 07/30/09 05:31 PM

Good for him. Love that tune!! And the organ does define the entire "feel" of the song. He deserves it.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: Classic 60s song's organist wins royalties battle - 07/30/09 05:45 PM

Agreed.

You hear the first few notes and immediately know what piece it is.
B3 and a Leslie, ah those were the days.

I still play it :-)
Posted by: R0B

Re: Classic 60s song's organist wins royalties battle - 07/30/09 09:30 PM

Used to play AWSOP, years ago in a band I was once in.

Spooky, that only yesterday, I was playing it again, while messing around with some organ sounds!

Great to hear that Matthew got justice at last.
Take the Hammond away, and it is just another song, IMHO.
Posted by: J Cortese

Re: Classic 60s song's organist wins royalties battle - 07/31/09 01:58 PM

I wonder if he's going to get back royalties, too. That could be a real windfall for him, and richly deserved.
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Classic 60s song's organist wins royalties battle - 07/31/09 03:39 PM

The moment I read "classic 60's song organist" "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" was the first thing that popped into my mind before I even read the thread. The organ really does define the song, it wouldn't be the same without it. If he actually wrote it (or a portion of it), rather than just taking an already written melody and adapting it to the organ, then he definately deserves his share.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Classic 60s song's organist wins royalties battle - 08/21/09 07:05 PM


To be more accurate, the Hammond organ line in A Whiter Shade of Pale was inspired by Bach’s cantata Sleepers Awake (1731) and Air on a G String. The organ chops are not a direct copy or paraphrase of any Bach, but A Whiter Shade of Pale does make pretty clear references to these other two compositions.
This similarity is also referenced in The Real Thing (1982)play by Tom Stoppard, and the 1991 film The Commitments.