a whiter shade of pale in some spectacular ruins

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

PROCOL HARUM MADE A VIDEO of their world­wide hit A Whiter Shade Of Pale in 1967. It was shot in some spec­tac­ular ruins in Witley Court in Worces­ter­shire, Eng­land, once one of the great houses of the Mid­lands, but by then a spec­tac­ular ruin dev­as­tated by fire thirty years ear­lier. It fea­tured the orig­inal members—Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, David Knights, Ray Royer, and Bobby Harrison—performing and me­an­dering about the ruins.

It was di­rected by Peter Clifton, who mixed full-color con­cert film with washed-out color stock of the group in the ruins. These were in­ter­spersed with black and white news­reel footage of the Vietnam War. Al­though there was nothing un­to­ward about the combat scenes, this caused the short film to be banned from the Top Of The Pops tele­vi­sion show.

For­tu­nately, the ban­ning had little ef­fect: the record spent six weeks at #1 in the UK, al­though it only reached #5 on both Bill­board and Cash Box in the US. Ac­cording to the Guin­ness World Records it is one of fewer than thirty sin­gles to have sold more than 10,000,000 copies worldwide!

Never quit­ters, the band made a second video, also using Sco­pi­tone tech­nology. By this time, Robin Trower and B.J. Wilson had re­placed Royer and Har­rison, re­spec­tively, so only three of the five mu­si­cians on the recording ap­pear in the new video. There was no per­for­mance footage, just the five mu­si­cians ca­vorting through London, run­ning across fields, and mon­keeing around in a hard day’s nightly manner.

Re­garding Peter Clifton’s han­dling of the “rel­e­vant” sec­tions: re­member that in 1967, the US was still “win­ning” the “war” in Vietnam. The footage in this video was shown reg­u­larly on the three (and only) tele­vi­sion net­works (ABC, CBS, and NBC). Clifton made a bigger name for him­self as the di­rector of Led Zeppelin’s con­cert film The Song Re­mains The Same in 1976.

The with­holding of such news and such graphic and honest video and pho­tographed im­ages from the Amer­ican public did not be­come our gov­ern­ment’s MO until Pres­i­dent George H. Bush in­vaded Iraq in 1991. War has not been the same since.



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