Legendary Keyboardist Keith Emerson 1944 – 2016

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One of the harshest years for the loss of legendary musicians continued today as English keyboardist and composer Keith Emerson has died. The news was revealed by his Emerson, Lake & Palmer bandmate Carl Palmer via a Facebook post from the drummer’s manager. According to the post, Keith Emerson passed away last night in Santa Monica at the age of 71.

Keith Emerson is best known for his run with Emerson, Lake & Palmer, one of the music world’s first true super groups and one of the ’70s most critically and commercially successful prog rock acts. The trio – which also featured Palmer and Greg Lake – released such iconic albums as 1970’s Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1971’s Tarkus and 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery. ELP formed in 1970 and parted ways in 1979.

Emerson was a masterful musician whose skills ranked him among the best keyboardists of the last 50 years. Beyond ELP, he also was a member of late ’60s rockers The Nice and went on to enjoy modest success as a solo artist. He was also a pioneer when it came to his instrument as one of the first rockers to add synthesizers to his rig. Watch Keith show off his skills in leading David Letterman’s house band on an interpretation of “America” on the Late Show in 1986:

Read the full statement from Carl Palmer via Bruce Pilato’s Facebook page:

RIP KEITH EMERSON- It is with profound sadness I have to report the death of Keith Emerson last night in Santa Monica, CA. Below is the official statement from Carl Palmer:

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.

Carl Palmer

Keith Emerson was 71-years-old. Our thoughts are with Keith’s friends and family.

Update 3/12: According to Billboard, Santa Monica Police confirmed Emerson’s death was ruled a suicide resulting from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

[Hat Tip – @LarryGuitarSG]