Emerson, Lake and Palmer are of a generation of progressive or art rockers, many of whom were classically trained and produced very original sounding and very complex music. The band was founded in 1970 by keyboardist Keith Emerson and guitar/bassist Greg Lake. Emerson, born in 1944 in Todmorden, England, had been a member of professional rock groups since he was in his late teens, when he moved to London. He played in a number of bands including one called The Nice which included Ike and Tina Turner's one time singer P.P. Arnold. Their style blended classical, jazz, blues and rock into a format that Emerson would bring along with him to ELP after The Nice broke up. Lake was, with the legendary Robert Fripp, a co-founder of King Crimson, another progressive rock band which would go on to become one of the major bands of the genre. The two brought on Carl Palmer, a talented and innovative drummer to round out the band. When they were first getting underway, it was rumored that Jimi Hendrix would join up, making the band's final name HELP.

The band's first major gig brought them quickly into the spotlight. Alongside such acts as The Doors, Joni Mitchell and The Who, ELP performed a rock adaptation of Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. The band stunned the audience with an amazing and original performance, finishing it off with a blast of cannon fire. Their self-titled first album would feature the hit song Lucky Man as well as some extended piano solos and a 12 minute song entitled Knife Edge. The album gave a good inkling of what the band would go on to accomplish and launched their successful career. The band would release a large number of successful albums, producing many hit singles and releasing a number of excellent live albums.

Most of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's most popular songs were written by Greg Lake, as his songs lent themselves more to release as singles. The band produced three types of songs in general. The first were Lake's guitar-based, reflective songs, such as Lucky Man, C'est La Vie and From The Beginning. Lake also penned their extremely popular holiday song, I Believe In Father Christmas. The next type of song was Emerson's piano solos and adaptations of classical pieces. These included works by Bach, Mussorgsky, Ginastera and Copland. Their performance of Fanfare For The Common Man impressed Copland so much that, upon hearing it, he congratulated the band, telling them that they had achieved exactly what he had wanted it to sound like. The final style of songs that ELP wrote were usually collaborations between all three members of the band on sweeping, epic songs such as Karn Evil 9 and Tarkus.

In 1974 they headlined the California Jam concert before a crowd of 500,000 and in 1977 toured with an entirely handpicked orchestra to perform Emerson's Piano Concerto No. 1. Eventually, however, the band decided the go their separate ways and release solo work. Emerson and Lake both released a number of successful solo albums while Palmer went on to form Asia. In 1986, Emerson and Lake joined drummer Cozy Powell, but only briefly. The band proper reformed in 1992 and released the album Black Moon as well as another live album. ELP toured the US and Canada, performing for a while with Dream Theater and Deep Purple. The band also released a number of collections and anthologies and attempted another studio album in 1998, but it never panned out.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer was one of the most successful bands of the Progressive Rock genre. Their music was a seamless blend of a number of disparate styles, producing a sound all their own. Their amazing live shows, featuring rotating drum kits, knife throwing acts and the band's astounding instrumental talents made for an incredible act. All told, the band made some of the most unforgettable music of their age or any other.


Editors note: Keith Emerson died on March11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 71 years old.



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