Keith Emerson, keyboard player with the ’60’s group The Nice and most notably with the ’70’s progressive rock supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer, has passed away. News of his death broke through his ELP bandmate Carl Palmer’s publicist. Palmer’s statement did not include a cause of death. Emerson was 71.
Emerson was arguably the greatest keyboard player in rock ‘n roll history. With his jazz and classical music influences, he was certainly the most innovative.
While with The Nice, Emerson re-arranged Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo à la Turk” from a 9/8 time signature to the more conventional 4/4 and renamed his rendition “Rondo” Many years later, Brubeck jokingly told Emerson he couldn’t play the song in 4/4 time.
But the song which really stands out for me is “Take a Pebble”. It appears on ELP’s eponymous debut album which was released in 1970. Although credited to ELP lead singer Greg Lake, it is Emerson’s piano playing that makes this 12½ minute song into an epic work.
This discordant news of Keith Emerson’s death in no way eclipses the high notes he hit during his lifetime because these notes can be heard for all eternity.
UPDATE: Santa Monica Police are investigating Emerson’s death as a suicide. Emerson evidently as a nerve condition in his right hand which severely inhibited his ability to play the keyboard and was overcome by depression because of it. How awful.
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