ELP’s Greg Lake 1947-2016 R.I.P.


Co-founder of one of the most influential bands of all time.

By Fred Mills

In a year uncommonly beset by music world passings—the latter third of 2016 has been particularly brutal—it is saddening, indeed, to have to keep reporting our losses. The latest: Greg Lake, on Dec. 7, from cancer. Lake, of course, was a key early member of King Crimson and went on to co-found synth/Prog legends Emerson, Lake & Palmer (the latter outfit’s Keith Emerson committed suicide this past March, so the only surviving member now is drummer Carl Palmer). Lake was 69.

As the BBC is reporting, “Lake’s manager Stewart Young wrote on Facebook: ‘Yesterday, December 7th, I lost my best friend to a long and stubborn battle with cancer. Greg Lake will stay in my heart forever, as he has always been.’”

The influence of ELP upon the rock universe cannot be understated. The trio helped pioneer long-form, complex, compositions heavily influenced by classical music, essentially birthing an entire genre – Progressive rock – while also notching enough hits (notably, the Lake-penned ballad “Lucky Man,” still a staple of underground and oldies radio alike, what with its rich acoustic guitar melody and Lake’s vocal line contrasting with Emerson’s iconic closing synth solo) to be a commercial juggernaut.

On a personal note: I was fortunate enough to see ELP multiple times during their ‘70s heyday – yes, I also saw Emerson on his spinning-upside-down-grand-piano—at both festivals and standalone arena shows, and the memories remain vivid. Below, let’s review some of those memories…

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