Exposé Online banner

Keith Emerson RIP

Former ELP bandmate Carl Palmer announced today that Keith Emerson has died. The keyboard player who was one of the icons of progressive rock and one of the most-imitated innovators on his instrument(s) was 71.

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-03-11

Keith Emerson in concertEmerson's flashy style, love of classical music, and sense of humor set a standard for the keyboards as a lead instrument, and cemented his place alongside Rick Wakeman and Tony Banks as one of the great keyboard players of progressive rock music. He first came to public attention playing Hammond organ in a band called The V.I.P.'s, then founded The Nice, which became a successful "proto-prog" band in the late 60s. It was with the founding of Emerson Lake & Palmer in 1970 that his style of aggressive playing on the organ and Moog synthesizers really exploded into the world's consciousness. He was the first artist to use synthesizers outside the studio, taking a Moog modular setup on the road before such things as the Minimoog became available.

His style encompassed a wide variety of influences, from his noted love of adapting classical music to rock (including Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and works by Antonín Dvořák, Béla Bartók, Leoš Janáček, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and many more) to covering jazz and pop tunes in his own way. ELP became one of the archetypal progressive rock bands, but didn't avoid the genre's downfall toward the end of the 70s, when simpler tastes prevailed and the band's powerful, complex music was considered pretentious and overblown. In spite of the decline of mass support, Emerson became the idol of keyboard players around the world, with generations of emulators, for good or ill.

From Carl Palmer's official statement:

I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend and brother-in-music, Keith Emerson. 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.


Filed under: Obituaries

Related artist(s): Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), Keith Emerson, The Nice

Latest news

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Joie Tet - All Structures Unstable – It starts with an aggressive riff on the bari sax run doubled an octave lower with a harmonizer; a bit later you get a distorted melody played on an instrument you can't quite identify from the...  (2010) » Read more

Flower Kings - The Sum of No Evil – Best I can figure, this is around the twelfth album by Sweden's Flower Kings, and across all those years they have pretty much maintained a course of prog-rock purity that stays the straight and...  (2008) » Read more

King Crimson - Vrooom – This is Fripp's next go around with a name too familiar for an explanation, and to be honest I was expecting little from this group. Usually 70s dinosaur reunions are enough to make one run screaming...  (1995) » Read more

Lenny White - Venusian Summer & Big City – Looking back thirty years later on the “golden age” of jazz-rock fusion, we tend to focus on the super tight unison lines and complex rhythmic structures of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and...  (2002) » Read more

Bubblemath - Such Fine Particles of the Universe – Where on earth to start with these guys? Bubblemath is a vocals / guitar / keyboards / bass / drums quintet from Minnesota with the drummer doubling on vocals. The music is hard-edged progressive...  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues