Keith Emerson: 1944-2016, Legendary Keyboardist of Emerson, Lake & PalmerJorgen Angel/Getty Music News Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Keith Emerson, best known for his work with prog rock supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer and widely viewed as one of the most virtuosic keyboardists in rock history, died today. He was 71.
The band’s official Facebook page confirmed Emerson’s death, adding, “we ask that the family’s privacy and grief be respected.” Carl Palmer, ELP’s drummer and later a founding member of Asia, released a separate statement on his own 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 was born in Yorkshire, England in 1944 and learned piano from an early age. In the 1960s, he discovered the Hammond organ and the Moog synthesizer, pioneering the latter instrument. After a stint with the band The Nice, he joined forces with Palmer and singer/guitarist Greg Lake, formerly of King Crimson, to form the supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer in 1970. The group found major success in the early part of the decade, recording such classic songs as “Lucky Man,” “From the Beginning” and “Karn Evil 9,” which features some of Emerson’s most famous keyboard work. ELP broke up in 1979, reuniting sporadically over the next few decades, most recently in 2010.
In addition to his career with Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Emerson had a lengthy solo career that encompassed both albums and film scores, notably for the films Inferno (1980) and Nighthawks (1981).