Friday, March 11, 2016

ELP keyboardist Keith Emerson dead at 71

Emerson, Lake And Palmer keyboardist Keith Emerson died Thursday at the age of 71.

The band shared the news via their social media sites, writing, “We regret to announce that Keith Emerson died last night at his home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, aged 71. We ask that the family’s privacy and grief be respected.”

Billboard reports Santa Monica Police are investigating the death as a possible a suicide, as they confirm that Emerson suffered a single gunshot wound to the head.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend and brother-in-music, Keith Emerson," former bandmate Carl Palmer wrote on his Facebook page. “Keith 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. 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. Rest in peace, Keith.”

Emerson first came to prominence as a member of the pioneering 60s progressive outfit The Nice, before forming ELP with former Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster drummer Palmer and ex-King Crimson bassist/vocalist Greg Lake in London in 1970.

The supergroup’s performance at 1970’s Isle Of Wight festival secured them a record deal with Atlantic Records, and they issued their self-titled debut album in November of that year.

ELP’s first seven albums reached the UK Top 10, with 1971’s “Tarkus” hitting No. 1 and 1972’s “Trilogy” and 1973’s “Brain Salad Surgery” peaking at No. 2 in their native land.

A traditional album over singles band, the trio did manage to score a No. 2 UK hit in 1977 with their version of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare For The Common Man.”

After ELP disbanded in 1979, Emerson and Lake formed Emerson, Lake & Powell with former Rainbow drummer Cozy Powell in 1985 and released a self-titled project in 1986.

ELP regrouped in 1991 to tour and released a pair of albums – 1992’s “Black Moon” and 1994’s “In The Hot Seat” – before shutting things down for a second time in 1998.

A supergroup of Emerson, Yes members Chris Squire and Alan White, and Bad Company’s Simon Kirke were one of the openers for the Led Zeppelin reunion/Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert at the O2 Arena in London in December 2007.

In 2010, Emerson and Lake toured North America for a series of "An Intimate Evening with Emerson and Lake" concerts and the full ELP lineup managed a one-off reunion that same year at London’s High Voltage festival to commemorate the band's 40th anniversary.