1972 Procol Harum – Conquistador

1972 Procol Harum – Conquistador

The members of the British group The Paramounts were playing together in school as early as 1959 and became a recording group by 1965. Gary Brooker sang and played the piano, while Robin Trower played guitar, Chris Copping played bass, and B. J. Wilson played drums. The group had a minor hit in the UK with a cover version of the Coasters’ single, Poison Ivy. The group disbanded in 1966 after being unable to follow-up their single with anything remotely successful.

Gary recruited a new band, which included Matthew Fisher on his Hammond organ, Ray Royer on guitar, and David Knights on bass. The band also included a poet who wrote most of their lyrics, Keith Reid. The group’s manager named the band Procol Harum, a name that came from a pet cat named Procol Harun.

The group used a session drummer and recorded a song they had written, Whiter Shade Of Pale. When the single began to sell well, the group added drummer Bobby Harrison and played a set that opened for Jimi Hendrix. The single reached the top of the UK charts in 1967 and peaked at #5 on the US Hot 100.

The single version of the song had two missing verses that helped explain what the song was actually about. One missing verse was finally revealed in 1994.

The band’s lineup changed again, with former Paramount members Robin and B. J. replacing Ray and Bobby. Later that year, the group recorded their second single, Homberg. While the single did fairly well in the UK, where it reached #6, it got no higher than #34 in the US.

The group’s first album in 1967 also included the studio version of the song Conquistador, although they did not issue that version as a single.

The group’s music became more and more progressive, a change that was perhaps most notable when they included the seventeen-minute song In Held Twas I on their second album. While the group may have been selling albums, they were having trouble charting singles.

Chris rejoined the group in 1970, essentially reforming the Paramounts.

In 1971 the group appeared in concert with The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and released recordings from the show as an album. Conquistador was a live single released from the album that became a hit in the US, peaking at #16 in 1972. It was their last single to reach the Hot 100.

The group appeared on tour in the US through 1973, with a new country-pop group as a warm-up act: the Eagles. After that tour, Robin became disenchanted with the group’s direction and left to form his own group, and constant line-up changes followed until the band’s inevitable break-up in 1977.

The band has reformed and nearly two dozen musicians have been in the group at one time or another. They continued recording both studio and live albums, with the most recent studio album’s release coming in 2017. For the first time, that album did not use Keith as a lyricist. Gary continues to lead the band that is currently touring.


I have collected older articles about Lost or Forgotten Oldies in my books.

I have collected older articles about Lost or Forgotten Oldies in my books.

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