Thursday morning we - a univeral we - learned of the passing of Greg Lake - vocalist/bassist/guitarist of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (and before that, King Crimson) at age 69. He was battling cancer. There are tributes and news articles to found elsewhere, and we will link to them below. I never saw ELP live, though I did have the chance to see Keith Emerson perform at NEARfest many years ago; I've never met any of the trio in person, so I cannot offer personal recollections along those lines. I can tell you that "Lucky Man," a Lake-penned track on the band's first album - has long been a favorite, long before I was aware of this whole world of "progressive rock." There was to me a Renaissance/Medieval feel to the story (not what was Lake's mind)* and medieval history has been an interest of mine (though my attraction to the song pre-dates that).
So it was Thursday morning, as I was making my way to downtown Los Angeles for a business meeting, that SiriusXM's Classic Vinyl was playing an ELP track - oddly, I do not remember which it was (most likely "Karnevil 9"). Not so unusual, ELP is often played. As it played, I started thinking about Emerson - who died this past March - how the trio would never, ever be able to reunite again. They had played the HRH Prog fest in around 2010, 2011 (if recall the festival and/or the year correctly). And I thought that very sad and wondered if after that appearance, they had at least patched up their differences. (I think Emerson and Lake performed together after that, so... maybe so... for a time at least.)
The song ended and then the DJ (Earle Bailey, I believe) came on to share the news that Lake had passed the previous evening. And I was sad all over again.
Over the years, since first hearing "Lucky Man," I came to know who ELP were, through hearing "Karnevil 9" but more so since being drawn to progressive rock specifically more than 25 years ago. I had started to review/comment upon the ELP catalog in 2003 (deary me, that was ages ago, but I think that was to tie in with Emerson's NF appearance). Although I did not finish that retrospective, you can read in these pages (and helpfully linked to here), my impressions:
Emerson, Lake and Palmer || Tarkus || Pictures At An Exhibition || Trilogy || Black Moon || Live At The Royal Albert Hall
[yes, there's one studio album missing; Brain Salad Surgery was reviewed by contributor Tom Karr.]
A few of the tributes/articles to be found on the web:
Prog Magazine: Carl Palmer Remembers Band Mate Greg Lake || Prog Magazine: 10 Essential Greg Lake Songs || BBC || Rolling Stone
*I get the same sense from Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin" especially the spoken word section that preceeds it (album) or comes after (radio single). And, more deliberate, Procol Harem's "Whiter Shade Of Pale".