Billy Joel paid tribute to Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker, who died Feb. 19 at the age of 76, with a rendition of the band’s classic “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” a song that Joel has frequently praised (and covered) throughout his career.
Taking the stage Saturday night at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium, Joel delivered a moving rendition of “Shade of Pale” following a performance of his own “Only the Good Die Young”; earlier in the week, Joel paid tribute to Brooker on social media.
Sorry to hear about the passing of Gary Brooker.
Rest in Peace.
– Billy Joel
[Pictured: Gary Brooker, founder and lead singer of Procol Harum] pic.twitter.com/C2VbXjviHA
— Billy Joel (@billyjoel) February 22, 2022
Joel had previously performed the 1967 single live on a handful of occasions, including a snippet during a Cincinnati concert in 2021 and a solo take during a Town Hall Q&A and concert with Howard Stern in 2014:
Brooker, Procol Harum’s frontman for 55 years, died Feb. 19 at his home following a bout with cancer. “[Brooker] lit up any room he entered, and his kindness to a multilingual family of fans was legendary,” the band said in a statement Tuesday. “He was notable for his individuality, integrity, and occasionally stubborn eccentricity. His mordant wit, and appetite for the ridiculous, made him a priceless raconteur (and his surreal inter-song banter made a fascinating contrast with the gravitas of Procol Harum’s performances).”