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Fri Dec 9, 2016, 09:43 AM

Greg Lake (ELP) has died of cancer


Greg Lake, who has died of cancer aged 69, first rose to fame with a brief stint in King Crimson before achieving colossal success with Emerson, Lake & Palmer during the 1970s. Lake was one of the key figures in the creation of progressive rock, and had no time for critics who said that the music was ludicrously overblown. “I know people think we’re pretentious, but it’s really a product of sophistication,” he said in 1973. “Anything that makes demands on the listener could be called pretentious ... but those who are really into it want something more satisfying.”

Comprising Lake on bass guitar alongside the keyboards player Keith Emerson and the drummer Carl Palmer, ELP played their debut gig in Plymouth on 23 August 1970, and six days later announced themselves as a new force on Planet Rock with a devastating performance at the Isle of Wight festival, where the bill also featured Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Who and Joni Mitchell. At the time they were in the middle of recording their debut album, called merely Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

The group’s momentum was unstoppable. When the album was released that November, it reached No 4 in Britain and 18 on America’s Billboard 200, and gave them a US Top 50 hit single with the atypically poppy Lucky Man, a song written by Lake when he was 12. It gave Lake the title for his 2012 autobiography.

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