Emerson, Lake & Palmer singer, bassist and guitarist Greg Lake died December 7 after “a long and stubborn battle with cancer.” He was 69.
The news was confirmed on Lake’s official Twitter account by Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s longtime manager Stewart Young, who posted: “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. His family would be grateful for privacy during this time of their grief.”
Carl Palmer, now the sole living member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, said, “It is with great sadness that I must now say goodbye to my friend and fellow bandmate, Greg Lake. Greg’s soaring voice and skill as a musician will be remembered by all who knew his music and recordings he made with ELP and King Crimson.”
He added, “I have fond memories of those great years we had in the 1970s and many memorable shows we performed together. Having lost Keith this year as well, has made this particularly hard for all of us. As Greg sang at the end of Pictures At An Exhibition, ‘death is life.’ His music can now live forever in the hearts of all who loved him.”
Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes said: “Very sad about Greg Lake. I had the privilege of working with him on several projects. His great talent will be sorely missed by all. Another genius has passed away. 2016 has truly been an annus horribilis in musical history.”
Greg Lake was a founding member of King Crimson, which also included his school friend Robert Fripp. Their 1969 album In the Court of the Crimson King, which Lake produced, was an instant hit and became a prog-rock classic.
In 1970, after King Crimson toured the U.S. with the band The Nice, Lake became friendly with that band’s keyboard player, Keith Emerson, and the two decided to leave their respected bands and form a prog-rock “supergroup,” Emerson, Lake and Palmer, with drummer Carl Palmer. With ELP, Lake contributed bass, acoustic and electric guitar and vocals. The band’s melding of classical and rock sounds, on albums such as Pictures at an Exhibition, was Lake’s proudest achievement, as he told ABC Radio in September. The influential trio would go on to release nine studio albums between 1970 and 1994. Lake and Emerson also released one album in 1986 with drummer Cozy Powell as Emerson, Lake & Powell.
“One of the things we decided to do was to try and draw more upon our European roots, our own roots, for inspiration,” Lake said. “I think you’ll find that after ELP there were tons and tons of rock bands that incorporated European-influenced music. I think overall that would be my biggest reflective joy in those records, that it did throw open the floodgates to be able to simply appreciate classical music, for example.”
Lake also had some solo success with his 1975 song “I Believe in Father Christmas,” which reached No. 2 on the U.K. chart. In 1983, he joined Asia for a year, replacing John Wetton (who had replaced Lake in King Crimson a decade earlier). Over the years, he’s led the Greg Lake Band, and toured with his old ELP bandmates in different configurations. ELP last played together in July 2010 at London’s High Voltage music festival.
Keith Emerson died this March after committing suicide after battling depression and a degenerative nerve issue.