Keith Emerson, an English keyboardist and composer, died on March 10.
Emerson was best known as being the keyboardist for progressive rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer from 1970 – 1979 and 1991-1998, through which he recorded six platinum-selling albums. Emerson also performed in a number of side projects.
Emerson is often considered one of the greatest keyboardists of all time, and is often cited as an influence by other musicians. He was well known for his use of the Hammond Organ, classically based technique, and experimental use of sound with synthesizers.
Emerson was found dead in his home in Santa Monica, California as the result of a gunshot wound, which was ruled as a suicide. Prior to his death, Emerson had suffered from heart disease and depression; he also had problems with the nerves and muscles in his right hand, which had gotten progressively worse over several years, and had impeded his keyboard playing.
After his death, former band members Greg Lake and Carl Palmer both released statements about Emerson:
Palmer stated, “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.”
Lake stated, “As sad and tragic as Keith’s death is, I would not want this to be the lasting memory people take away with them. What I will always remember about Keith Emerson was his remarkable talent as a musician and composer and his gift and passion to entertain. Music was his life and despite some of the difficulties he encountered I am sure that the music he created will live on forever.”
Emerson is survived by his two sons, Aaron Ole Emerson and Damon Keith Emerson, as well as his long time girlfriend, Mari Kawaguchi.