By Keith Sharp
Emerson Lake & Palmer bassist/guitarist/lead vocalist Greg Lake passed away December 7th at the age of 69 after a stubborn battle with cancer. His death followed the suicide death of keyboardist Keith Emerson on March 11th of this year leaving drummer Carl Palmer as the group’s sole survivor.
ELP formed in 1970 when The Nice keyboardist Emerson was able to spirit Lake away from his gig as vocalist/bassist for Robert Fripp’s King Crimson. With former Atomic Rooster drummer, Palmer also on board, this iconic trio made such a memorable debut at the Isle of Wight Festival that Atlantic Records’ guru Ahmet Ertegun signed them to his U.S label immediately.
Commencing with their self-titled 1970 debut which featured “Lucky Man”, ELP totally revolutionized the progressive rock scene with future albums like `Tarkus’, ‘Trilogy’, `Pictures At An Exhibition’ and ‘Brain Salad Surgery’ which deftly melded classical music with contemporary rock.
Lake was at times at odds with his band’s sound, wishing to insert more of his melodic ballads into the band’s set. In his one interview with this writer, he noted that “Lucky Man” was really a ballad he wrote when he was 12 years old and was always performed acoustically on stage while the melodic “Take A Pebble” made that debut album as a concession from Emerson.
Palmer enjoyed his solo moment when his 1975 “I Believe In Father Christmas” proved to be a re-occuring seasonal classic and after the band released their “contractual obligation” Love Beach album in 1978, he moved on to briefly replace John Wetton in Asia, rejoined Emerson with drummer Cozy Powell before forming his own Greg Lake Band in 2005. His final performance with Emerson and Palmer was at the High Voltage Festival in London England July 25th 2010.