Keith Emerson Dies: Rockers React
Yesterday (March 11), it was reported that Keith Emerson, the keyboardist of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, died at the age of 71. Since then, many of his friends and admirers in the rock community have expressed their thoughts about him on social media.
Police in his hometown of Santa Monica, Calif., have ruled his death a suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot. It is believed that he was suffering from depression as a result of nerve damage in one hand that had restricted his ability to perform.
Born in England in 1944, Emerson was a classically trained pianist who also loved rock and jazz. His arrival on the London rock scene in 1967 as a member of the Nice coincided with the birth of progressive rock and the advent of synthesizers. After three years, which saw them raise eyebrows with a controversial cover of Leonard Bernstein’s “America” from West Side Story, the Nice broke up, and Emerson joined forces with former King Crimson bassist/vocalist Greg Lake and drummer Carl Palmer.
Throughout the ’70s, Emerson, Lake and Palmer combined rock with classical structures and jazz improvisations. In addition to their own compositions, they adapted works by such composers as Modest Mussorgsky, Aaron Copland and Bela Bartok for their own sound and performed them in concert with a flamboyant, over-the-top style that drew heavily on theatrics. Following their breakup in 1979, Emerson composed film scores, reunited with Lake and Palmer on several occasions – both as a trio and in offshoot bands – and remained an active touring musician.
Lake shared an emotional message today in remembrance of his fallen bandmate:
To all ELP friends and fans all over the world, I would like to express my deep sadness upon hearing this tragic news. As you know Keith and I spent many of the best years of our lives together and to witness his life coming to an end in the way that it has is painful, both to myself and to all who knew him.
As sad and tragic as Keith’s death is, I would not want this to be the lasting memory people take away with them. What I will always remember about Keith Emerson was his remarkable talent as a musician and composer and his gift and passion to entertain. Music was his life and despite some of the difficulties he encountered I am sure that the music he created will live on forever.
After Emerson’s death became public, many other classic rockers – including hard rock and prog giants like Paul Stanley, Rick Wakeman of Yes, Brian May and Geezer Butler – likewise paid tribute to Emerson on Twitter. Read what they have to say below.
no whimsical tweets today. It's heartbreaking to lose so many musician friends this year and now Keith Emerson . Rest peacefully my friend.
— Rick Wakeman (@GrumpyOldRick) March 12, 2016
Wow…I am absolutely stunned over hearing of Keith Emerson's passing. He was truly a Prog pioneer. This year's been absolutely devastating
— Mike Portnoy (@MikePortnoy) March 11, 2016
Terrible news about Keith Emerson. He was a major figure in the history of Charisma and made a huge contribution to the music we all love.
— Charisma Records (@CharismaLabel) March 11, 2016
So terribly sad to hear of Keith Emerson's passing. We were good friends for many years, and he was a gent, a genius—one of a kind. RIP
— John Wetton (@arkangel2605) March 11, 2016
Devastated to hear of the death of the greatest rock keyboardist ever, my dear friend Keith Emerson. A true genius and inspiration. #rip
— Geoffrey Downes (@asiageoff) March 11, 2016
RIEP KEITH EMERSON – the man who showed immediate records a future it could not contain.
— Andrew Loog Oldham (@loogoldham) March 11, 2016
RIP KEITH EMERSON. I saw ELP as a teen. Emerson was swagger&daggers stabbing the Hammond. THAT was prog with an edge pic.twitter.com/yx7bWFaBJB
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) March 11, 2016
So very sad to hear the news that my brother Keith Emerson has passed away … A True gentleman and a commander of the keyboardsRIP Keith
— Glenn Hughes (@glenn_hughes) March 11, 2016
— Dr. Brian May (@DrBrianMay) March 12, 2016
I'm terribly sad to hear about the death of Keith Emerson. A genius of the keys and a lovely guy.
— Steve Hackett (@HackettOfficial) March 11, 2016
Keith Emerson… R.I.P.
— Geezer Butler (@GZRMusic) March 11, 2016
Keith Emerson… A Lovely Man & An Amazing Musician…Our Loving Thoughts To His Family, Friends & Fans…XX pic.twitter.com/HNEBEHVpFU
— David Coverdale (@davidcoverdale) March 11, 2016
R.I.P. Keith… Yet Another…
Condolences to his Family & friends…. heart emoticon x
What is going on!?! ;( https://t.co/QCrG89QVEk
— Julian Lennon (@JulianLennon) March 12, 2016
I don't care how bad it gets. When you do this you only hurt the people who care about you. Very disappointed. https://t.co/TstmRskV4l
— Billy Sheehan (@BillyonBass) March 12, 2016
My good friend & musical inspiration Keith Emerson passed away this morning. My heart goes out to his family & friends. Tough year for music
— Rusty Anderson (@rustyanderson1) March 12, 2016
Very sad for the passing of Keith Emerson, who some have called the "Hendrix of the keyboard". RIP, Good Sir…. https://t.co/LyNN9znohw
— Will Lee (@Willbassboy) March 12, 2016
RIP Keith Emerson.
Innovator. Composer. Showman. Inspiration.
Your music will live forever.
— Geoff Tate (@geofftate) March 12, 2016
Dear Keith Emerson has left us too soon. Many great memories a truly gentleman. Rest in peace.
— Peter Frampton (@peterframpton) March 12, 2016
Rockers We’ve Lost in 2016