Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP) were a British progressive rock group. In the 1970s, they were extremely popular, selling over 30 million albums and headlining huge concerts.

The three members are:

They were an early 'supergroup', with Emerson coming from The Nice, Lake from King Crimson and Palmer from Atomic Rooster.

They formed in 1970 and broke up in 1979. The first four ELP years were an extremely creative period during which the band performed with tremendous power and energy. They self-produced their first six albums, starting with the highly acclaimed Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1970), which contained the hit "Lucky Man". Tarkus (1971) was their first (very successful) concept album, claimed to be a story about reverse evolution. The March 1971 live recording (Newcastle, UK) of the band's interpretation of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition was issued as a low-priced record, the success of which highly contributed to the band's overall popularity. The 1972 album Trilogy contained ELP's best-selling single "From the Beginning". In late 1973 Brain Salad Surgery was released, widely recognized as ELP's best studio album ever. The subsequent world tours were documented with another live recording Welcome Back my Friends to the Show that Never Ends. This record documents ELP in their prime. Their debut performance had been a relatively modest show at the August 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, which marked the end of the flower power era. In April 1974 ELP were top of the bill during the California Jam Festival, pushing co-stars Deep Purple to a second billing. ELP's California Jam performance was broadcast nationwide in the US and is often seen as the summit of the band's career.

The ELP sound was heavily dominated by the Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer of flamboyant keyboard player Emerson. The band's compositions were heavily influenced by classical music in addition to jazz and - some say - hard rock. Many of their pieces are arrangements of, or contain quotations from, classical music, and they can be said to fit into the sub-genre of symphonic rock. Onstage the band exemplified an unorthodox mix of virtuoso musicianship and over-the-top theatrical bombast. Their extravagant and often aggressive live shows received much criticism in this regard - although in retrospect it was all rather small change compared to later rock spectacles: the theatrics were limited to a Persian carpet, a spinning grand piano, a few bangs on huge Chinese cymbals and an organ being molested on stage (it was the same sympathetic organ every time, called the L100, that was repaired overnight for the next show.)

After their early 70s rush ELP took a three-year break to reinvent their music -- but they failed. The 1977 records Works are a testimony to their craftmanship, but ELP had lost contact with the changing musical scene. The band toured the US and Canada in 1977 and 1978 on a killing schedule of night after night performances - some with a full orchestra, which was a heavy burden on the tour revenues. These late-'70s tours found ELP working harder than ever to stay in touch with their audience. But as disco, punk rock and new wave styles began to alter the musical landscape, ELP could no longer generate the excitement of being forerunners in musical innovation. Eventually they drifted apart due to personality conflicts and irreconcilable differences concerning musical direction. Their last studio album of the 1970s, Love Beach (1978), was dismissed even by the trio itself, who admitted it was delivered to fulfill a contractual obligation.

In 1986, Emerson and Lake formed another "ELP" band with heavy metal drummer Cozy Powell. (Palmer declined to participate in a reunion, preferring to stay with Asia.) In 1987, Emerson and Palmer joined with Robert Berry to form the band 3.

The original ELP lineup then reformed in 1991. The 1992 come-back album Black Moon showed good evidence of their musical capabilities and the 1992/1993 world tours were quite successful again, culminating in a thrilling performance at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles in early 1993 that has been heavily boot-legged. Reportedly, Palmer suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome and Emerson had been treated for a repetitive stress disorder in one hand. So it was no surprise that the follow up album In the Hot Seat did not live up to expectations.

Emerson and Palmer recovered to tour again. The last ELP tours were in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Their tour schedules brought them to Japan, South America, Europe, the USA and Canada and ELP played fresh new versions of older work. However enjoyable these tours were, ELP played in significantly smaller venues for significantly smaller audiences. Their last show was in San Diego, California, in 1998. Conflicts about a new album inspired a new and final break up. Greg Lake insisted on producing the next album. After all, he had produced all successful ELP albums in the early 70s. Keith Emerson complained in public (on the internet) that although he and Carl Palmer worked out on a daily basis to maintain their musical skills, Greg Lake hardly took effort to do the same. Lake admitted that he did not train his voice: a few live shows were generally enough to get it in shape, he claimed.

Keith Emerson has been touring Britain with his old buddies of The Nice during 2003. Drummer Carl Palmer tours on an irregular basis with his Carl Palmer Band, playing electric guitar adaptions of ELP's keyboard work in the club circuit. Greg Lake has toured the USA with Ringo Starr in 2002.


Table of contents
1 Discography
2 External Links


External Links

Band member websites