Procol Harum lyricist Keith Reid has died, aged 76

Keith Reid – an acclaimed lyricist best known for writing almost all of Procol Harum’s recorded material – has died at the age of 76.

Reid died last Thursday (March 23), a post on the Procol Harum website confirms, with his former bandmates writing in a statement that he died in a hospital in London; “He had been receiving cancer treatment for the past couple of years,” they wrote.

The band went on to note that Reid’s family “would like to thank numerous well-wishers for their very kind messages”, and confirmed that a private funeral will be held in the near future. The website, too, “will be updated soon with details for those who would like to make a donation in his memory”.

“Keith will be greatly missed,” Procol Harum’s statement said in closing.

Reid’s biggest hit with Procol Harum was their 1967 debut ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’, which fast became one of the anthems for the mid-‘60s “summer of love”. It’s also one of the best-selling singles of all time, shifting over 10million copies worldwide, and being covered by more than 1,000 other artists. 

In the band’s statement, they wrote that Reid “always said that, at the end of his life, he would explain what it all meant: but sadly he didn’t get this opportunity”.

A key member of Procol Harum, Reid wrote every one of the band’s original songs between 1967 and 2012; the only record his work doesn’t appear on is their final album, 2017’s ‘Novum’, which was released the same year that Reid exited the band.

Outside of Procol Harum, Reid was known for his collaborative efforts with the likes of French singer Michel Polnareff and Australian icon John Farnham – he notably cowrote the latter’s 1986 hit ‘You’re The Voice’, which too went on to become an anthem for its time. Reid also led his own project, plainly titled The Keith Reid Project, with which he released two albums: 2008’s ‘The Common Thread’, and 2018’s ‘In My Head’.

Have a look at some of the tributes shared in Reid’s honour: