Greg Lake, co-founder of two prog rock giants — King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer — died yesterday after a lengthy battle with cancer, according to his manager. He was 69.
Lake’s manager Stewart Young posted to Lake’s official Facebook page today that the musician passed away on December 7, 2016 after “a long and stubborn battle with cancer.” The news comes just nine months after the death of Lake’s former ELP bandmate Keith Emerson.
In the late 1960s, the British musician co-founded King Crimson with fellow Dorset native Robert Fripp, where he served as singer and bassist, performing on their debut album, the classic In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), and its equally hailed 1970 follow-up In the Wake of Poseidon.
In 1970, Lake left King Crimson to form the prog rock supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer with keyboardist Keith Emerson and drummer Carl Palmer, where they went on to pen lengthy epic tunes that combined classical, jazz, blues, and rock, with a tinge of British Invasion. The trio released their self-titled debut that same year, which contained the now-classic “Lucky Man,” an acoustic ballad Lake wrote when he was just 12. ELP gained success throughout the 1970s, with all of their studio albums, including the notable Brain Salad Surgery (the 1973 album with cover artwork by H.R Giger), going Gold, and some reaching Platinum status. While the group split up in 1979, they reformed in 1985 without Palmer as Emerson, Lake & Powell with former Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell. Lake went on to play in several incarnations of ELP through the 1980s and 1990s.
While Lake is known for his role as a prog rock pioneer, he also charted in 1975 with the solo single “I Believe in Father Christmas” — and if you don’t think you know this song, trust me, you do, it’s a classic (listen below).
Over the years, the multi-instrumentalist has done solo work, including as the Greg Lake Band, as well as had a brief stint in the band Asia; toured in Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band; played on bass on 2003 The Who song “Real Good Looking Boy,” and much more.
Lake is survived by his wife Regina and their one daughter, Natasha.
As expected, the music world is morning the loss of a legend today, and musicians, friends, and prog rock contemporaries have all taken to social media to pay tribute to this great talent. (See some of those embedded below.)
On his official website, while noting that ELP has sold over 48 million records to date, there’s a quote from Lake about his success: “The greatest music is made for love, not for money. The early ELP albums were pioneering because there is no standing still; time is always moving forward.”
RIP Greg Lake
November 10, 1947 – December 7, 2016
"It is with great sadness that I must now say goodbye to my friend and fellow band-mate, Greg Lake." Full statement https://t.co/y5X1EK15Z1