So, we end 2016 as it began and now only a third of my first musical love affair at the age of 12, ELP exists. Greg Lake was the voice of ELP and that first groundbreaking King Crimson album. To many he will also be the bloke who had that hit back in the 70's with that "I Believe in Father Christmas" song. Going by the coverage of his death in the general media, his stature was bigger than Keith Emerson's. He even got mentioned on the ITV main 6 o'clock news! I never thought I would hear the name King Crimson on the news.
Greg had a beautifully pure, choirboy-like voice and not only a wonderful bassist but prodigous on acoustic and electric guitar. Just listen to his classical guitar playing on "The Sage" or his wah-wah guitar on "Still You Turn Me On" which gives this ballad such an unusual edge.
It's still strange to consider that his first major vocal performance was so distorted on 21st Century Schizoid Man", belying his beautiful baritone which would become such a distinctive feature of English progressive rock. But it was clear that Lake's ambitions and abilities could not be contained within King Crimson, which had huge musical personalities like Robert Fripp and Ian McDonald to contend with. Teaming up with Keith Emerson seemed like a natural progression and with Carl Palmer on board, the trio produced an amazing body of work in the remarkably short period between 1970 and 1973. Though they carried on for a number of years after the peak that was "Brain Salad Surgery", the glory days were the early 70's. Like Emerson, Lake couldn't produce a solo career to match the chemistry that the trio realised. But I think Lake looked on those halcyon days with pride and gratitude that he was involved in making such remarkable music. I remember reading an article in the 70's monthly music magazine Music Scene back in the day, where Lake interviewed around the Get Me a Ladder tour hoped that people would still be listening to ELP music in 40 or 50 years time. Well, they are and Greg Lake was such an important part of that exciting time and will be remembered by me and countless others forever!