Keith Emerson’s girlfriend is shedding some light on the motives behind the keyboardist’s March 10 suicide at their home in Santa Monica, CA.
Emerson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 71.
Mari Kawaguchi tells the Daily Mail that the Emerson, Lake & Palmer star killed himself because he feared he was no longer good enough as a musician and was 'tormented with worry' about upcoming concerts in Japan as nerve damage to a hand had affected his playing.
“His right hand and arm had given him problems for years,” said Kawaguchi. “He had an operation a few years ago to take out a bad muscle but the pain and nerve issues in his right hand were getting worse. He had concerts coming up in Japan and even though they hired a back-up keyboard player to support him, Keith was worried.
“He read all the criticism online and was a sensitive soul. Last year he played concerts and people posted mean comments such as, 'I wish he would stop playing.' He was tormented with worry that he wouldn't be good enough. He was planning to retire after Japan.”
“He didn't want to let down his fans,” she added. “He was a perfectionist and the thought he wouldn't play perfectly made him depressed, nervous and anxious.”
Both Carl Palmer and Greg Lake issued tributes to their former bandmate, with Lake saying, “As sad and tragic as Keith’s death is, I would not want this to be the lasting memory people take away with them. What I will always remember about Keith Emerson was his remarkable talent as a musician and composer and his gift and passion to entertain. Music was his life and despite some of the difficulties he encountered, I am sure that the music he created will live on forever.”
Emerson, Lake and Palmer formed ELP in London in 1970. The trio scored album success in their native UK throughout the 1970s, including a No. 2 hit in 1977 with their version of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare For The Common Man.”
ELP played a one-off reunion show at London’s High Voltage festival to commemorate the band's 40th anniversary in 2010.
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