Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson Musician Greg Lake Dies

Greg Lake: Image at WPLR. Co-founder of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, bassist at King Crimson
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Greg Lake: Image at WPLR. Co-founder of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, bassist at King Crimson
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Greg Lake at WPLR (Image by Carl Lender, CC by 2.0)

Greg Lake, a co-founder of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, has now passed away.  Lake was also bassist for King Crimson, and enjoyed a successful solo career.

One of his ‘greatest hits’ was actually a Christmas song, ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’. (Fun fact: Susan Boyle was among those covering that holiday tune).

But Greg Lake’s greatest, most lasting impact came with Emerson, Lake & Palmer, which he co-founded.  The band was credited with pushing progressive rock into the limelight, while influencing a broader musical motif.  King Crimson actually pre-dated ELP, with both contributing to the prog rock fabric of the era.

(Fun Fact #2: it was Robert Fripp of King Crimson that initially shared his grievances against Grooveshark with Digital Music News, setting off a multi-year, multi-company lawsuit.)

Younger music fans probably wouldn’t recognize a lot of the songs Lake produced. But both groups collectively sold millions of albums.  That is, back when albums not only sold, they were considered important statements.

By the mid-70s, Emerson, Lake & Palmer hit its peak, with millions worth of album sales and packed tours.

“We never had any commercial or financial intentions.”

That said, Lake seemed less interested in material success.  “It’s more important to make some spiritual human contact, or visit someone lonely,” Lake once told the Guardian. “We never had any commercial or financial intentions.  But of course, now everyone wants to know how it feels to receive all the lovely royalties, which are apparently delivered by wheelbarrow by Santa himself.”

Emerson, Lake & Palmer wasn’t always the most accessible, and both groups are more for purist fans these days.  There was material success for decades, though that was never a guarantee with this level of experimentation and adventure.  “I think there is truth in the fact that the group was pretentious,” Greg Lake told Rolling Stone a few years ago. “You don’t make an omelet without cracking eggs. We wanted to try and move things forward and do something new and break boundaries. It was important for us to be original. Certainly the early albums.”

“I’m talking now especially about Tarkus, Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery.  Those records were really great and innovative. There were members of the press that didn’t love us, but the public loved us.”

Lake passed away late Wednesday (December 7th) after a long battle with cancer.