“Oh, What A Lucky Man He Was” – Goodbye To Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

A Brief One from Doug Draper 

Posted December 11th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

Oh no, not another one! What an awful year this one has been for deaths in the world of popular music.elp-elp

This past Friday, December 8th, I was in one of my favourite music stores – Record Theatre in Buffalo, New York –picking up a reissued, deluxe edition of the first, now 46-year-old debut  album by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and the nice, young lady behind the counter told me that Greg Lake, the basest who had sung most of the lead vocals, had just died the day before.

Lake, the co-founder of the group and King Crimson earlier on, eulogized as a ’pioneer of progressive rock” in a short obit posted this December 7th (the day of his death) by Rolling Stone magazine, was 69.

One of his partners in E, L & P, the extraordinary keyboardist and composer Keith Emerson, died just this past winter, leaving drummer Carl Palmer as the only surviving member of this blockbuster trio.

I went home from Buffalo and decided to leave the CD I had purchased aside for a moment and put on my old vinyl copy of the first Emerson, Lake & Palmer album. And as the record played, it crossed my mind that so many of us who follow the work of the great pop artists are still reeling from the recent deaths of Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell and Sharon Jones, and now there is this one.emerson_lake__palmer_-_lucky_man

Earlier this 2016, we lost David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Maurice Williams, Beatles producer George Martin, Prince and the list goes on and on. I don’t like to wish time away, but thank goodness this year is almost over.

One of my favourite passages on the musical legacy of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, featured in a 1990s edition of the Rolling Stone Album Guide, reads as follows – “Emerson, Lake & Palmer wreaked havoc on the classics, exacting revenge for a generation of involuntary piano pupils.”

On that score, I dare you to enter a creaky old house in the dark, with nothing but a candle to light your way, and with the classically-bent ‘Barbarian’, the opening instrumental from the first E,L&P album, swelling in the background.

Then there is ‘Knife-Edge’ from the same album. Listen to the lyrics (posted below) as Greg Lake sings them and think of how relevant they are to what is now unfolding south of the Canada/U.S. border in Trumpland –

Just a step cried the sad man
Take a look down at the madman
Theater kings on silver wings
Fly beyond reason
From the flight of the seagull
Come the spread claws of the eagle
Only fear breaks the silence
As we all kneel pray for guidance

Tread the road cross the abyss
Take a look down at the madness
On the streets of the city
Only specters still have pity
Patient queues for the gallows
Sing the praises of the hallowed
Our machines feed the furnace
If they take us they will burn us

Will you still know who you are
When you come to who you are

NOW IT IS YOUR TURN. Niagara At Large encourages you to share your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote .

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who share their first and last name with them.

Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders



2 responses to ““Oh, What A Lucky Man He Was” – Goodbye To Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

  1. Hi Doug I’m not sure if you know this, but Keith Emerson’s death was ruled a suicide. Apparently he was no longer able to play as he had at the height of his career, and was despondent about the prospect of disappointing his fans in an upcoming tour of Japan. What a sad end to a full life.


  2. Way too many suicides lately. Actually, one is one too many. This is another great loss of an ultra-talented musician. I always loved “Lucky Man” and “From The Beginning”. Greg Lake was of an era of musical genius, where the universal appeal of their sweet sound never fades.


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