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Keith Emerson: A Tribute

May 27, 2016

During my time at the 2nd International Progect Network conference, I felt strongly compelled to make mention of Mr. Keith Emerson’s recent passing. Whether or not one enjoys the music of ELP or the Nice, his contributions as a keyboard performer, were highly innovative and bursting with creativity. He brought the keyboardist to the front of the stage, a place typically reserved for the guitarist or lead singer. He played with knives, whips, leather, and a flaming ribbon controller. As entertaining as this all was, he still saw himself as a composer, rather than an entertainer. He would jump with both feet into the world of classical music with his piano concertos and later conducting roles.

For me, it’s still quite hard talking about his passing. Maybe it's because we'll never know the why part. A week prior to his passing he posted a Facebook video seeming so hopeful and excited about the future with his concert in Japan, his composing, the revamping of his autobiography, the production of his documentary, and his intent of retiring later this year. We can only imagine the personal demons he was fighting off camera.

It would seem the dichotomy of the swaggering stage persona and the difficulties of being a sensitive human being under the microscope of expectation had reached its boiling point. Music was Keith’s life, and I think that his passing and the manner of it shocked the general music world.

I would like to close this tribute to Mr. Emerson with a video created by the Moog Foundation, and this quote from Rick Jones, a friend of Mr. Emerson’s:

“Such was Keith's total immersion in music and its creation....the solo on 'Learning To Fly" on Emerson, Lake, and Powell was inspired by the creaking sound the gates at his home in Sussex made. It lingered in his mind and became the basis of a musical creation. To Keith, Everything was music, Music was everything.”

Keith Noel Emerson


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