An Appreciation
Comment 1

RIP, Keith Emerson…



Keith Emerson, the keyboardist for the progressive rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer has died… apparently by his own hand.
According to one British tabloid, who is apparently quoting Greg Lake, the vocalist for the band, Emerson had been in varying states of depression since the band began falling apart in the late 70’s.

Another British tabloid said he took his own life because he could no longer perform perfectly.

British tabloids…

Emerson was one of the early adopters of the Moog Synthesizer.
The solo at the end of Lucky Man was one of the first to mainstream the instrument.

I came to ELP’s music as Brain Salad Surgery was released.
Even before my introduction to Genesis and Yes.
Having been musically weaned on classical, it was a revelation to hear a rock band who not only wrote songs of symphonic length, but who also freely acknowledged and borrowed from that classical tradition.

Fanfare for the Common Man – borrowed from Aaron Copland.
Pictures at an Exhibition – borrowed from Modest Mussorgsky.
With additional borrowings from Janacek, Bartok and Ginastera.
Bach. Prokofiev.

Among others.
As well as literature.
Tarkus? From the John Carter books? Edgar Rice Burroughs? Anyone?
How much time you got…?

Back in my performing days, I even got to perform with an orchestra doing Emerson’s Piano Concerto. Aside from the soloist, I was the only other person in the room who knew the piece.
Because, on the album Works, Vol 1, each band member was given an album side to do whatever they wished with.

We’re talking vinyl here, people.

And while Lake’s choices were predictable (though incredibly well done… MAN! what a voice), and Palmer’s choices were revelatory and provoking, Emerson chose to do his own concerto. Full sized, full blown and full out.
The Copland came from that album. C’est La Vie. Pirates – with a full orchestra.
Works, Vol 1 is a staggering album.

Much of their work was staggering, for the time.
A lot of it still is.

And now…
To take your own life…
For such an alleged reason…

All things considered, the song Trilogy takes on a newer, heartbreaking relevance…



I need to go and listen to some music now.



Image found here.



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