Entertainment & Arts

Your memories of Keith Emerson

Keith Emerson performing at the Bristol Colston Hall with Emerson, Lake and Palmer in 2010 Image copyright Gordon Robertson
Image caption Emerson, Lake and Palmer regularly used pyrotechnics as part of their on-stage imagery, as seen here during their last performance at The High Voltage Festival, London.

Fans of the legendary rock musician Keith Emerson, the co-founder and keyboardist of progressive rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer, have been sharing their tributes after his former bandmates revealed that he had died at the age of 71.

Many of them hail the flamboyant performer as a true pioneer of the British rock scene.

Richard Jones from Chester says he was was blown away by Keith Emerson's on-stage presence, when he first saw him in 1968.

"He led the charge to progressive rock as he was a consummate musician primarily. Showmanship was the icing on the cake" he said.

"He rewrote the history of rock music, simple as that. Even Rick Wakeman [of the band Yes] would probably admit he was the best of the best."

Image copyright Graham Kennedy
Image caption One of Emerson's favourite stage props, the Tarkus, shot polystyrene balls into the crowd when played, much to the delight of fans, and annoyance of cleaners

"The English pioneered the genre but Keith led the charge with complex reproductions of classical music for the Hammond [organ]. And of course the full size Moog [synthesizer] which no-one believed could be taken on the road!

"He was never one of the populist musicians, and he did his own thing, but if you ever saw him he was quite a humble guy. He was not someone who followed the crowd.

"On the way to my first concert I met a fellow fan of the band on the National Express bus. We are still friends today and still go to concerts together".

Image copyright Richard Jones
Image caption Emerson's stage outfits were often flamboyant in the 1970s

Eddie Conway, from Milton Keynes, became a lifelong fan after seeing one of the band's first performances in the late 1960s.

He said of Emerson: "He'd jam the keys of his synthesizer down with large knives while swinging it around, then hurl the knives into a door at the side of the stage.

"I saw ELP several times through the years, and I was also lucky enough to see him at what would be his last gig at the Barbican last year. He will be sadly missed."

Steve Crabbe from Milton Keynes went to see ELP at the Portsmouth Guildhall in 1971.

"I was transfixed when they came on stage and started with Barbarian with its huge thundering fuzz bass line" he wrote.

"In those days there was no limit on volume, so the whole place shook and my trousers flapped! Fantastic at the time and I still play their tracks at high volume to try and recapture the sheer exuberance of it all."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Emerson was renowned for his love of motorbikes, including this model he was pictured on at Cadogan Pier in London in 1973.

Rick Stephenson from Norfolk got to know Keith while fundraising for charity.

"I've been a lifelong fan and living in Norfolk I used to do some fundraising for Children in Need and because I was a fan of his I approached him to ask for his help. After that we corresponded quite regularly because we both loved playing keyboards and motorbikes.

"He was a lovely bloke who loved being a dad and being a grandfather. I've always said that I have had two influences in my life one being my dad and the other was Keith.

"When playing the keyboard, or piano, he could do stuff with one hand which I couldn't manage with two. He gave me some sheet music for his piano concerto although I have no hope of being able to play it.

"He loved really deep and was a true gentleman."

Image copyright Rick Stephenson
Image caption Rick Stephenson (right) first got to know Emerson through charity work

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