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Emerson, Lake and Palmer

The prog-rock supergroup was formed in 1970, and its breakthrough came at that year's Isle of Wight Festival.  The band had an unusual line-up (for those times), keyboards being the lead instrument (although Greg Lake played occasional guitar as well as bass), and Keith Emerson's extravagant playing of them became their trademark.  Their perceived excess and flamboyance was a source of some antagonism from both the punk generation that followed, and many rock critics and commentators of the time - "pretentious" was a heavily-employed adjective....).

Formed by Emerson (ex-Nice) and Lake (ex-King Crimson) initially, the search for a drummer took some time before Carl Palmer of Atomic Rooster accepted their invitation to join. Their initial portfolio for live concerts was heavily dominated by Emerson's re-arrangements of classical music, but this was no barrier to their almost instant acceptance by audiences in both the UK and the US.

The band released five major studio albums:

  • Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1970)

  • Tarkus (1971)

  • Pictures at An Exhibition (1971)

  • Trilogy (1972)

  • Brain Salad Surgery (1973)


..and two live albums:

  • Pictures at An Exhibition (1971)

  • Welcome Back, My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends - Ladies and Gentlemen (1974)

...before taking a break in 1974. They got back together in 1976 to record Works Volume 1  - think of it as three mini solo LPs and a mini ELP LP, which did produce their re-working of Copeland's Fanfare For The Common Man, their highest charting UK single (No. 2). Works Volume 2 (1977) was a collection of older tracks. The band toured again (North America mainly) in 1977-78, and this produced another live LP Emerson, Lake and Palmer In Concert (1979), but the tour's excesses (particularly the expensive use of orchestras and choirs) led to the band retreating to the studio to fulfil their contractual obligations with Love Beach (1978). And that was it for the first go-round.

The band reformed in 1991. Between then and 1998, when they broke up again, they released two studio albums, Black Moon (1992) and In the Hot Seat (1994), and toured in 1992–93, and again in 1996, by which time their live audiences were shrinking significantly.

They reformed in 2010 for a 40th anniversary concert in London (captured on the double CD High Voltage).

Keith Emerson (suicide) and Greg Lake (cancer) both passed away in 2016.

Over the top? Yes. Could they play? Absolutely. I liked them......

And Keith Emerson is half of the answer to a question that few ever ask - Can you name two rock musicians born in Todmorden? - the other is John Helliwell of Supertramp.

The longevity data for the band is shown below.

Key statistics

Average DOB: 21 August 1947

Current average age: 70 years 4 months

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