Grandeur was the word most often used to describe Procol Harum in its heyday, and it was grand. The band's members dressed like medieval spacemen and were fiercely talented musicians, capable of everything from dirty blues to soaring symphonic numbers. Wilson’s drumming was as full of surprises as the group’s music. He supported the group’s narrative songs with all the power of a rock thrasher and the stateliness of an orchestral percussion section. 1967's “Whiter Shade Of Pale” was their biggest hit and last to reach #1. Their progressive songs were a bit obtuse for radio, though they had a highly dedicated fan base, especially in America.
Born March 18, 1947 in Edmonton, North London, Wilson was a pro by his early teens. When he joined Procol at the age of 20 he was already a veteran of four years in the Paramounts (which included Procol's Gary Brooker, and Robin Trower), and had drummed for teen star Lulu, the Sands, and (Yes!) George Bean And The Runners. He played on a few great recordings outside of Procol, most notably Joe Cocker’s breakthrough, With A Little Help From My Friends. Wilson married Sue Jardine, an American, and lived out his later life in the States. He died October 8, 1990, a year before the first major Procol Harum reunion.
You can tell the importance of Wilson by the types of drummers who admired him during the height of career — Bob Seidenberg of Supertramp for one. When Procol opened for Supertramp in 1977, Seidenberg was “terrified” to follow Procol's often pretentiously classical and thunderous music. Wilson was always up to the task of coaxing a wide range of sounds from his kit. He claimed the secret of his power was in his grip. He hooked his left index and middle fingers over his Ludwig 2S sticks but held the right in a matched grip.
B.J. Wilson on Wikipedia