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

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Dr. L. Subramaniam / Karsten Vogel - Meetings – Dr. L. Subramaniam is an icon of Indian improvisation. From his Karnatic traditional undertakings and Western classical endeavors his international collaborations with Ali Akbar Khan, Yehudi Menuhin...  (2008) » Read more

Steve Howe - The Haunted Melody – The Yes/Asia guitarist realizes a lifelong ambition by creating the perfect jazz setting with son, Dylan Howe on drums and Ross Stanley on Hammond B3. The arrangements across the stellar recording...  (2009) » Read more

Blacklight Braille - Seachange – Blacklight Braille is a name I've been seeing for years but only recently decided to check their music out. So for any seasoned BB fans out there, please keep in mind this is this writer's first...  (1994) » Read more

Mauve Sideshow - Meet Me in the Wasteland – Meet Me in the Wasteland is the latest and final musical chapter of Treva (voice, electronics) and Dusty Lee (Mellotron, keyboards, sound collage). Like their self titled CD of two years previous,...  (1994) » Read more

The Coenobite - My Habit – The Coenobite, besides being a clever variant on the hideous demon from Clive Barker's novella "The Hellbound Heart," is the one-man project of Dutchman Coen Vrouwenvelder. Primarily a...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues