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

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Odin - SWF Session 1973 & Live at the Maxim – Along with the reissue of this quartet's amazing self-titled debut album from '73 (which originally appeared on the Vertigo label), Long Hair has released these two collections of archival recordings,...  (2008) » Read more

Guru Guru - 2000 Gurus – I remember Guru Guru from back in the 70s, when I picked up one album on a whim. It was spacey, funky jazz rock done with a sense of humor (I don’t suppose you can be too serious with a name...  (2001) » Read more

Nuova Era - Il Passo del Soldato – This album could have been reviewed as a new release back in 1976 if it was judged by the musical instruments used to make it. Nuova Era, especially in the keyboard department, sticks to the tried...  (1996) » Read more

Calomito - Inaudito – Older people will surely remember Rock in Oppossition, an informal gathering of avant-rock groups initiated by Henry Cow in the early Seventies. They were from several European countries, including...  (2006) » Read more

Adrian Belew - Belewprints: The Acoustic Adrian Belew Volume Two – The second volume of acoustic performances by King Crimson lead vocalist Adrian Belew is a different reading than Volume One from a few years ago. No bones about it, Belew is a gifted composer; his...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues