Greg Lake of ‘Emerson, Lake and Palmer’ Fame Is Gone

Cancer took the skilled musician far too soon

The musician responsible for co-founding two progressive rock bands — Emerson, Lake & Palmer; as well as King Crimson — passed away at the age of 69.

Greg Lake’s manager, Stewart Young, said the musician died Wednesday after “a long and stubborn battle with cancer.”

Lake founded King Crimson in the 1960s along with guitarist Robert Fripp. The band is often noted as spearheading what became known as progressive rock.

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Along with keyboardist Keith Emerson and drummer Carl Palmer, Lake later founded ELP.

Lake served as vocalist, guitarist, and the main lyricist for the band. The group released six platinum albums and were known for their strange and experimental music. One album, “Tarkus,” has a 20-minute track telling the story of a mythic armadillo tank.

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Another track, called “Karn Evil 9,” is a 30-minute composition.

Rolling Stone magazine said this about Lake: “As a lyricist and vocalist, Lake helped define [progressive] rock’s flair for introspection with a dash of fantasy. He sang with clarity and confidence, making his voice a singular force among his and his fellow musicians’ experimentation. Whether playing bass or guitar, as he often did with Emerson, Lake and Palmer, he wrote in a way that allowed for his band mates to build vast, intricate soundscapes. He was a skillful player whose guitar playing, in particular, added depth to some of ELP’s grand classical experiments.”

The three musicians disbanded in 1979, then reunited in 1991 and 2010. Keith Emerson passed away this year from suicide.

ELP member Carl Palmer said of Lake’s passing, “Having lost Keith this year as well has made this particularly hard for all of us.” He added, “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.”

Greg Lake was born in Bournemouth, England, in 1947. He believed that making a connection with listeners was more important than material success, as Rolling Stone noted. “It’s more important to make some spiritual human contact, or visit someone [who is] lonely,” The Guardian quoted Lake as saying.

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