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Keith Emerson

Keith EmersonAKA Keith Noel Emerson

Born: 2-Nov-1944
Birthplace: Todmorden, West Yorkshire, England
Died: 11-Mar-2016
Location of death: Santa Monica, CA
Cause of death: Suicide

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Musician

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Keyboardist for Emerson, Lake, and Palmer

One of the most recognizable names to emerge from the 1970's artrock/progressive/(insert ridiculous category here) scene, Keith Emerson has been established as a virtuoso with keyboard-based instruments since the age of 14. He worked with a number of London-based bands throughout his teens before forming The Nice, which initially was just a backing band for singer P. P. Arnold. The group quickly outgrew its support role and split off on its own, generating a great deal of notoriety through its performances in Europe and the U.S. -- particularly because of Emerson, with his dynamic playing, bizarre stage antics and tight trousers.

After the Nice disbanded, silver-tongued Emerson lured both drummer Carl Palmer away from his successful gig with Atomic Rooster and singer Greg Lake away from a still-popular but internally-disintegrating King Crimson. The trio formed (wait for it) Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who would become arguably the biggest "progressive" band of all time. With the undeniably prodigious skills of its participants to draw on, ELP brought together a complex blend of jazz, rock and classical styles into something that was, ultimately, entirely its own beast. The trio would also plumb the depths of ridiculous excess, and unfortunately it is the latter more than the former that has had the greater influence upon the rock genre -- excessiveness being a far easier quality to develop than invention and talent.

ELP disbanded for the first time in 1979, and Emerson went on to pursue somewhat of a solo career and much more of a career in film sountracks. On two occasions during the 1980s he reunited with former bandmates -- first to form an ELP with Cozy Powell as the new "P", then with Palmer to form another trio inventively called 3. The original trio finally came together again in 1991, only to disband after a "farewell tour" in 1998. For a time, a nerve problem in his hand made Keith Emerson's musical future uncertain, but a surgical procedure in 1994 apparently led to a full recovery.

Father: Noel Emerson
Mother: Dorothy Emerson
Wife: Elinor (div., two children)

    The Nice Keyboardist (1967-70)
    Emerson, Lake and Palmer Keyboardist (1970-98)
    Emerson, Lake and Powell Keyboardist (1986-87)
    3 Keyboardist (1988-89)
    Shot: Self-Inflicted 11-Mar-2016 (his death)

    Moog (3-Jul-2004) · Himself
    Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival (21-Feb-1997) · Himself

Official Website:

Author of books:
Pictures of an Exhibitionist: From the Nice to Emerson Lake and Palmer: The True Story of the Man Who Changed the Sound of Rock (2003, memoir)

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