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Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer Dies

Michael Putland, Getty Images
Michael Putland, Getty Images

Emerson, Lake & Palmer singer, bassist and guitarist Greg Lake died yesterday (Dec. 7) after what the band’s Facebook page describes as “a long and stubborn battle with cancer.” He was 69.

Lake, who came to fame as the singer on King Crimson‘s first two albums, formed ELP in 1970 with drummer Carl Palmer and keyboardist Keith Emerson of the Nice. The group went on to become one of the most popular progressive rock bands of the ’70s on the strength of their jazz and classical music-influenced compositions.

This is the second loss Emerson, Lake and Palmer has suffered in less than a year. Emerson died this March after battling depression and a degenerative nerve issue.

“It is with great sadness that I must now say goodbye to my friend and fellow bandmate,” Palmer said in a statement. “Greg’s soaring voice and skill as a musician will be remembered by all who knew his music and recordings he made.”

Lake became friends with King Crimson leader Robert Fripp while in school. Even though he had been playing guitar since he was 12, Fripp encouraged him to switch to bass, the instrument Lake would play for most of his career. He was in the band for only a year, recording In the Court of the Crimson King and In the Wake of Poseidon with Crimson.

While on tour with the group, Lake met Emerson, who played keyboards in one of the opening bands, the Nice. Even though Lake was more of a rock ‘n’ roll player than the classically inclined Emerson, the pair formed, along with drummer Palmer, Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

The trio released eight albums in the ’70s before breaking up at the end of the decade. They reunited for two more albums in the early ’90s. Lake and Emerson also released one album in 1986 with drummer Cozy Powell as Emerson, Lake & Powell.

Lake also had some solo success, most notably with his 1975 song “I Believe in Father Christmas,” which reached No. 2 on the U.K. chart. In 1983, he joined Asia for a year, replacing John Wetton (who had replaced Lake in King Crimson a decade earlier). Over the years, he’s led the Greg Lake Band, and toured with his old ELP bandmates in different configurations. The trio last played together in July 2010 at London’s High Voltage music festival.

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Next: Top 10 Greg Lake Songs

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