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Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP) – Progressive Rock Pioneers

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP) were an English progressive rock supergroup trio who sold over forty million albums. The band formed in England in 1970, and consisted of Keith Emerson (keyboards), Greg Lake (bass guitar, vocals, guitar) and Carl Palmer (drums, percussion). ELP was one of the most popular and commercially successful progressive rock bands.

ELP’s sound was dominated by Keith Emerson’s Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer and piano virtuoso artistry. Many of their pieces are arrangements of, or contain quotations from, classical music. Lake ensured that each album contained at least one simple, accessible acoustic ballad, such as Lucky Man, or Still You Turn Me On — many of these songs received heavy radio airplay. In addition to providing vocals, bass guitar, electric guitar and lyrics, Lake also produced the band’s first five albums.

ELP Welcome Back
Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP)

The group came on the music scene in 1970 with their self-titled first album, Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Their most popular album, Brain Salad Surgery, was their most grandiose and refined production. Tarkus, with its title suite running over 20 minutes, was an inventive and edgy set revolving around jazzy textures. Pictures at an Exhibition was ELP’s provocative, fiery, and intense interpretation of the classical work by Mussorgsky.  Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends was a triple-live album (now on double-CD) with some absolutely stunning playing. And, Works Live was recorded when ELP toured with their own orchestra in 1977.

The seven studio albums and two live records ELP released during their peak years in the 70’s all went gold.  In 1986 Cozy Powell replaced Carl Palmer and they put together Emerson Lake and Powell, a good effort as well. After a long break, Emerson Lake & Palmer got back together in the 90’s with a new approach, but still making good music.

Each of the members of ELP came from established bands: Keith Emerson from The Nice, Greg Lake from King Crimson, and Carl Palmer from Atomic Rooster.

Post ELP, the band members have continued with their own projects. Keith Emerson formed the Keith Emerson Band, and recorded a fully orchestrated Tarkus. Carl Palmer became the drummer for Asia, and created the Carl Palmer Project. Greg Lake toured and recorded solo.

Sadly, keyboard wiz Keith Emerson (1944-2016), took his own life on March 11, 2016, by a single gun shot. He was 71. Emerson had suffered nerve damage in his hands for many years, but it was progressing. He was scheduled to go on tour in Japan in a matter of days. He is reported to have been in deep turmoil and depression over his diminished ability to perform.

Keith Emerson

To cap off the year, on December 7, 2016, Greg Lake (1947-2016), passed away. He was 69. He had fought a battle with cancer for the past 3 years. Lake will be remembered for his stunning vocals – at once rich, dynamic, and heartfelt – as well as, his outstanding bass & guitar work. Lake also produced several of ELP’s albums.

Greg Lake

Carl Palmer, drummer & percussionist, is now the lone living member of ELP. Palmer, who was born is 1950, is 66.

Carl Palmer

Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP)
Karn Evil 9 – 1st Impression – Part 2 – “Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends…”
from the album ‘Brain Salad Surgery’

Tarkus (20:39)
from the album ‘Tarkus’

Fanfare for the Common Man – Live  

Montreal 1977

Lucky Man – Live – Greg Lake

California Jam 1974

Piano Improvisations – Live – Keith Emerson
California Jam 1974


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