This Day in Music 07.03.2016
Matthew Charles Fisher is a keyboard player, singer, and producer who is best known for his work as a founding member of Procol Harum he was the group's organist, and later served as producer/arranger during that band's first three years.
Fisher was born on March 7,1946 in Croydon, Surrey, England. He started playing in bands in his teens, initially playing bass guitar but after hearing The Animals he decided that he would prefer to be an organist. In his youth Matthew studied music, particularly the keyboard, though he also became proficient on the guitar and the bass, among other instruments, and learned the art of orchestration. He met famous organist Ian McLagan and became fascinated with the sound of Hammond M102 organ and Leslie speaker that Mclagan used. After borrowing money from his grandmother, he bought the same model of Hammond and started advertising for gigs in the Melody Maker. He said in this period that “having a Hammond was like having a licence to print money". Indeed he was recruited by Gary Brooker and Keith Reid for their new group, Procol Harum. One of the songs that this band ended up cutting was "A Whiter Shade of Pale" which, with its surreal imagery, classical flourishes, the source of which would become a matter of contention, and soulful vocals by Brooker, became a classic piece of pop-psychedelia and an international chart-topper.
The song reaching number 1 in the uk chart for several weeks. Fisher felt, after seeing the sheet music to A Whiter Shade of Pale, that he deserved a co-composition credit for coming up with the well known introduction and solo passages throughout the song. Brooker and Reid, who had composed the basic structure of the song before recruiting Fisher, refused. In response to his lack of co-writing credits, Matthew wanted to leave the band. Instead, Fisher played an increasingly prominent role within the band over their second and, especially, their third albums. The latter, A Salty Dog, carried his credit as producer and arranger, and stood in the view of many fans and critics as the group's most ambitious and successful studio project. At the end of '60s Fisher left the group. In addition to his work with Procol Harum he was producer and enjoyed a solo career. In the '90s, however, he re-joined a reconstituted Procol Harum, with which he recorded as well as performing on-stage. In 2004, however, he quit the band once more, and the following year filed a lawsuit against Gary Brooker and the publishers of "A Whiter Shade of Pale," claiming that he was entitled to co-author credit and a 50% share of the composer's royalties earned by the song. In the course of the trial that followed, it became established that though the song had been composed before he joined the Procol Harum, the familiar organ part and much of the classical feel of the song (as well as the recording) were, indeed, Fisher's creation. In July of 2009, appeal to the House of Lords, the final level of legal appeal in England, it was ruled that Fisher was entitled to 40% of the composer's royalties on revenue generated by the song after 2004.