Legendary Rock Keyboardist Keith Emerson Of ELP Fame, 71, Passes
March 11, 2016 at 12:33 PM (PT)
KEITH EMERSON, who revolutionized rock keyboards with his theatrical style as a member of prog-rock groups EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER and THE NICE, passed away last night at the age of 71 at his SANTA MONICA, CA, home, according to ELP's official FACEBOOK page.
The British prog-rock supergroup formed in 1970 and released nine albums over the course of its career, the first five of which hit the top 10 of the BILLBOARD 200.
Wrote bandmate CARL PALMER in a statement: "I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend and brother-in-music, KEITH EMERSON. He 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."
After discovering the HAMMOND and MOOG in his teenage years, EMERSON evolved into one of the most celebrated rock keyboardists ever, first as a member of THE NICE before founding ELP, whose peak was the 1973 album, "Brain Salad Surgery," with EMERSON co-writing its classic "Karn Evil 9."
EMERSON was known for a flamboyant stage style which involved sticking knives in his keyboard or reaching into the interior of his piano to hit, pluck or strum the strings with his hand. He would frequently play a given style with one hand and a contrasting style with the other.
He was also known for his elaborate live keyboard setup. During the "Brain Salad Surgery" tour of 1974 (documented on the three-LP live set, "Welcome Back My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends), EMERSON's keyboard setup included the HAMMOND C-3 organ, run through multiple LESLIE speakers driven by HIWATT guitar amplifiers, the MOOG 3C modular synthesizer (modified by addition of various modules and an oscilloscope) with ribbon controller, a STEINWAY concert grand piano with a MINIMOOG synthesizer on top of it (used for the steel drum part on "Karn Evil 9, 2nd Impression"), an upright acoustic-electric piano that was used for honky-tonk piano sounds and a HOHNER clavinet.
He is survived by sons AARON OLE and DAMON KEITH.