Keith Emerson Dead: Emerson, Lake, And Palmer Keyboardist Dies at 71

Xander Deccio

Keith Emerson, legendary keyboardist of the prog-rock trio Emerson, Lake, and Palmer has died at the age of 71 at his home in Santa Monica. Emerson's cause of death was not announced to the media, however the band's Facebook page and website confirmed the news.

Below is the statement posted on Emerson, Lake, and Palmer's Facebook page.

"We regret to announce that Keith Emerson died last night at his home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, aged 71. We ask that the family's privacy and grief be respected."

— Carl Palmer (@ELP_carl) March 11, 2016

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend and brother-in-music, Keith Emerson. Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come. He was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz. I will always remember his warm smile, good sense of humor, compelling showmanship, and dedication to his musical craft. I am very lucky to have known him and to have made the music we did, together. Rest in peace, Keith."

Emerson became intrigued with the Hammond after he heard Jazz musician Jack McDuff perform "Rock Candy." Emerson would later acquire his own Hammond at the age of 15.

Keith Emerson would later be noted for his flamboyance while playing after a fight broke out at a performance in France while the band had Emerson continue to play. It was there that Emerson produced some machine-gun and explosion sounds with his Hammond that help broke up the fight. It proved to be so popular that the band asked him to continue doing this at future shows.

In 1967, Emerson would form the band The Nice with band members Lee Jackson, David List, and Ian Hauge. Hauge was later replaced by Brian Davison. The group centered around Emerson's Hammond showmanship -- and abuse of the instrument.

It was during his time in The Nice that Keith Emerson discovered the Moog synthesizer when a local record shop played for him Switched-on Bach. Emerson was so impressed with the Moog that he borrowed one from musician Mike Vickers for a show at the Royal Festival Hall in London. His performance was so successful that the crowd went crazy after Emerson performed "Also Sprach Zarathustra" from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In 1970, Keith Emerson would go on to form Emerson, Lake, & Palmer with singer/guitarist Greg Lake and drummer Carl Palmer. ELP came to prominence following their performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in August of that year. ELP incorporated sounds of classical music, jazz, and symphonic rock. The band would later sign to Atlantic Records and release their self-titled debut. The following year, ELP released Tarkus. Emerson would continue to showcase his theatrical side of his keyboard playing by performing the "flying piano" trick, where he would employ a special rig that rotated his piano end by end while playing, giving the effect that the piano could be played upside down.

Keith Emerson's success with ELP would continue with releases such as Pictures at an Exhibition, Trilogy, and Brain Salad Surgery; an album that infused classical music with rock and roll. ELP would release three more albums before disbanding in 1979. The band would later reform in 1991, releasing two more albums, while continuing to tour. The band would celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2010 with a performance High Voltage Festival in London.

In later years, Keith Emerson would reform The Nice and tour with the short lived supergroup The Best, which featured John Entwistle of The Who, Joe Walsh of The Eagles, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter of The Doobie Brothers, and Simon Phillips of Toto.

Keith Emerson was inducted into the Hammond Hall of Fame in 2014.

[Photo by Norman Quicke/Express/Getty Images]

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