LOS ANGELES – Keith Emerson, founder and keyboardist of the progressive-rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, has died, his longtime partner announced Friday.
The orchestrations drew on classical and jazz styles and sometimes wedded traditional rock instruments with full orchestras.
He helped form one of the first progressive rock groups, the Nice, before hooking up with Lake and Palmer in 1970 and debuting with them at the Isle of Wight Festival, shows that also featured Jimi Hendrix and the Who.
Throughout, Emerson continued to compose and perform, sometimes solo and other times with various musicians, including Lake.
Despite his influence, Emerson never considered himself a rock or pop icon and his true musical devotion lay elsew.
“At home, he either listened to either classical or jazz. We never listened to rock,” Kawaguchi said.
“He hated being called rock star or prog-rock star…he wanted to be known as composer,” she said.
“He never succumbed to being commercially successful. He had no interest. He always said: ‘I’m not a rock star. I’ve never been a rock star. All I want is to play music.'”.
Emerson had been composing and working with internationally known symphonies, including two in Germany and Japan, and was about to embark on a short tour in Japan starting on April 14 with his band, Kawaguchi said.