Saluting The Late Prog Rock Keyboardist Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Posted by Billyjam, March 11, 2016 07:56pm | Post a Comment

Famed prog rock keyboardist Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake & Palmer (and The Nice) fame died late last night (March 10th) as confirmed by the rock trio's Facebook page today. As yet no cause of death has been yet announced for the passing of the pioneering 71-year-old, British-born musical pioneer who was living in Santa Monica in recent years. An early adapter of and ambassador for the Moog synthesizer, Emerson leaves behind a legacy of recordings. His back catalog spans albums he recorded with his two main groups as well as solo and collaborative projects including soundtracks. Among albums for The Nice include the high concept, ambitious live performance piece Five Bridges. Considered by many to be the greatest live recording, it is all the more impressive when you consider that the musicians were only in the early/mid twenties. This album by The Nice was released in 1970, which was the same year of the self-titled debut by Emerson Lake & Palmer.

Clearly Emerson was a busy prolific artist. Over the career of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the band would release nine studio albums including their fourth album, Brain Salad Surgery, in 1973 with its distinctive H.R. Giger cover art (right).  The original soundtracks credited to Emerson are for 1980's Inferno by Dario Argento, and the interrelated film soundtrack for La Chiesta  with Italian prog rockers Goblin. The most recent Emerson album to arrive in Amoeba was the November 2015 release of the rock jazz fusion seven track CD/Miniablum by The Keith Emerson Trio. (cover below)

"He was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz. I will always remember his warm smile, good sense of humor, compelling showmanship and dedication to his musical craft. I am very lucky to have known him and to have made the music we did together," wrote bandmate Carl Palmer in that Facebook post earlier today. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were so popular in their heyday that fans commonly referred to them simply as ELP (not to be confused with El-P of Run The Jewels). As noted in the excellent in-depth J.Poet penned Amoeba bio of the successful group who earned nine gold and two multi-platinum records, "Emerson Lake & Palmer may not have invented the genre called progressive rock, but they were undoubtedly  the most successful progressive rock band in history."

In his Amoeba bio, J Poet also nicely traces the quick transition from Nice to ELP for Emerson, writing that "In 1969, while on tour with The Nice in America, Emerson met Greg Lake, then bassist and lead singer of King Crimson, Robert Fripp’s legendary band." The two British artists met backstage in San Francisco at a double bill of King Crimson and The Nice at the Fillmore Auditorium. ELP's expansive (and expensive) stage shows, that earned legendary status, required 25 roadies plus 35 tons of equipment to put on. At the center of these big production prog rock concerts, Emerson was typically wildly energetically charged and charismatic working the keyboards. For proof peep the ELP live performance video clip below of their song "Hoedown."  In that group's classic song, culled from their popular album Trilogy, you will hear ELP's trademark prog-rock hybrid of rock, jazz, classical (and touches of Celtic too). Being one of the earlier adapters of the Moog Synthesizer, coupled with his keyboardist skills, Emerson helped craft the group's unique sound. Undoubtedly Emerson's legacy will be honored at the upcoming Moogfest 2016, in North Carolina in a couple of months. Meantime click these links to releases by Keith Emerson,  Emerson Lake & Palmer and The Nice.

ELP "Hoedown (live)"

The Nice "Country Pie (live)"

ELP "Fanfare For The Common Man (live)"

Relevant Tags

The Nice (1), Lake & Palmer (1), Emerson (1), Elp (2), Keith Emerson (1), King Crimson (5)