Saturday, 12 March 2016

Keith Emerson 1944-2016

Keith Emerson, keyboardist in the bands The Nice and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, has died.

He is usually regarded as one of the most technically accomplished keyboardist in rock music, a true virtuoso. He first came to notice as a member of a band called The Nice, that existed between 1967 and 1970. They were pioneers of progressive rock; one of the first bands to combine rock music with classical and jazz. A staple of their repertoire was rock interpretations of pre-existent classical and jazz pieces.

When their guitarist left the band, they did not replace him and continued on as a trio, with only drums, bass and keyboards. The Nice therefore became one of the rare rock bands to not have a electric guitarist, with the music relying instead on Emerson's considerable keyboard skills.
Important Albums by The Nice include The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack, Ars Longa Vita Brevis and Five Bridges

Here is a video of The Nice peforming America from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. It shows Emerson's energetic and distinctive performing style, which includes plunging knives into his organ keyboard to hold notes.

After The Nice broke up, Emerson formed a new progressive rock band: Emerson, Lake and Palmer, ELP continued in the same vein, doing without a lead guitarist and with plenty of classical "covers". They were one of the most successful rock bands of the 70s, selling albums by the truckload and playing to outsold arenas. It was in my opinion well-deserved, they produced a solid body of work in the period 1970 to 1974. Granted, their albums after that period were rather lacklustre. They took a long hiatus during the period 1974-1977 and were never the same afterwards.

Their best albums are probably their self-titled debut, Tarkus and Brain Salad SurgeryHere is The Three Fates, composed by Emerson, from their first album.

With Keith Emerson progressive rock music has lost of it's leading lights. Emerson was an innovator and keyboard virtuoso. May he rest in peace.

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