Friday, March 11, 2016

Keith Emerson dead at 71

Keith Noel Emerson
November 2, 1944 - March 11, 2016

Keith Emerson, best known as the keyboardist for legendary supergroup Emerson Lake and Palmer, died Thursday evening. The cause of death has not been confirmed, although it has been reported by police that Emerson might have committed suicide, as he was found with a single gunshot wound to the head. According to the Associated Press, Emerson's partner Mari Kawaguchi found the keyboardist dead and called 911 at around 1:30 am. 

Born in Todmorden, Yorkshire, Emerson learned how to play western classical music when he was only a child. As he later came to love rock and jazz music, Emerson was able to combine these influences into his own style of playing the keyboards. When he was a teenager, Emerson was able to get his first Hammond organ. Prior to joining ELP, Emerson was the keyboardist of the Nice. The band were originally the backing band to singer P.P. Arnold. After only a few months with Arnold, the Nice went off on their own. From 1967 to 1970, the Nice were able to release a handful of album before their split. The band also had a minor hit with their rendition of "America" from West Side Story

After the Nice's split, Emerson joined up with bassist/singer Greg Lake (formerly of King Crimson) and drummer Carl Palmer (formerly of Atomic Rooster and before that- the Crazy World of Arthur Brown). Together, the trio formed what would become ELP. Despite being criticized as over-the-top and pretentious by music critics, ELP were one of the most successful rock bands of the 1970s. In their original run, the band managed to release seven studio albums until their split in 1979. The band found success with classic rock radio staples such as "Lucky Man" and "Karn Evil 9." The band reunited in 1985, though not with Palmer. In his place was drummer Cozy Powell- changing the band's name to Emerson Lake and Powell. ELP would reunite from 1992 to 1998 and release another two albums. The band briefly reunited for a tour in 2010- though only with Emerson and Lake. The band's last performance was on July 25, 2010 in celebration of their 40th anniversary. The group headlined the High Voltage Festival in Victoria Park, London. 

Aside from his time in ELP, Emerson was made a few solo albums. Emerson is survived by two sons, Aaron and Damon. 

It is very sad to hear of Keith Emerson's passing. I'm not the biggest ELP fan but I do enjoy the albums I own by them. Keith was a extremely talented keyboardist. Listening to ELP, I'm almost always amazed by how Keith played. I think his keyboard playing would sometimes overpower Lake and Palmer! What makes his death more upsetting is that he took his own life. If he was in any pain, I hope he finds some kind of happiness. 

Rest in Peace, Mr. Emerson. 

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