Keith Emerson, large proponent in ushering in the prog rock sounds of the late 1960s with the legendary Emerson, Lake and Palmer, died on Friday at his home in Santa Monica, CA, according to a post by ELP on their official Facebook page. He was 71.
Undoubtedly a trailblazer of the Hammond and Moog keyboards, Keith Emerson and ELP created sounds which at once borrowed from a sort of blues/rock foundation with multilayered complex arrangements on top, and even mixed with a quasi-Classical feel to boot.
ELP utilized physical histrionics and pyrotechnics, and with songs like the still-radio-friendly “Lucky Man,” “Karn Evil 9,” and on classic, now legendary records from the early 1970s such as Brain Salad Surgery and Tarkus, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were at the forefront of the vanguard of the progressive rock genre. The prog rock genre was in its earliest musical incarnations when the band was signed to Atlantic Records in 1970, on the heels of the much-lauded success of a sparkling performance The Isle of Wight Festival, the British equivalent of the United States’ 3-day epic peace and love cornucopia that was Woodstock.
The prog rock pioneers had a stainless steel freight train of sound that was created and hit the musical bullseye time and time again, with the British-born Emerson on the keyboards, guitarist Greg Lake (who had been in another pioneering band of the Prog Rock genre, King Crimson), and Carl Palmer, who had an attack on the drums that was with all the wallop of John Bonham and a kind of swing like Billy Cobham or Ginger Baker. As ELP, the trio had a success worldwide in terms of record sales and concert tours, which lasted well into the 1990s, amidst a few breakups and reunions, and it finally came to a full stop in July of 2010 when the band parted ways for good.
While the news of Emerson’s death was confirmed by ELP in a brief post to their official Facebook page, TMZ is reporting that police learned that the musician was found by his girlfriend in their California home with a single gunshot wound to the head in an apparent suicide, but authorities have not yet ruled it a suicide. The gossip site states that Emerson was suffering from depression and, according to their sources, he had degenerative nerve issue in his right hand and could not play the keyboard with all of his fingers.
Keith Emerson (1944 – 2016)We regret to announce that Keith Emerson died last night at his home in Santa Monica, Los…
Former bandmate Carl Palmer expressed heartfelt grief at the loss of his ex-bandmate, when he mentioned in a statement that Emerson was “a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come.” Indeed, Keith Emerson was right on par with other heavyweights of the keyboard/organ during the era, such as Deep Purple’s Jon Lord and Yes’ Rick Wakeman.
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend and brother-in-music, KEITH EMERSON. Keith was a gentle…
The next few days will undoubtedly reveal more pieces to solve the puzzle as to what caused the death of Keith Emerson, but right now, it’s about remembering the life, the vivid musical life and talents of a man who seemed to play boundless and with a wellspring of talent that seemed endless, with a body of work that’s rich, complex, expansive, and deeply creative, much like the wunderkind himself.
RIP Keith Emerson
November 2, 1944 – March 10, 2016