Greg Lake

Born on 10th November 1947 in Poole, Gregory Stuart Lake spent his childhood in a post Second World War prefab (a cheaply built prefabricated house that was supposed to last for just ten years) in Dale Valley Road, Oakdale. His father Harry, a time and motion manager at the nearby Hamworthy Engineering factory and his mother Lily, or Pearl as she was affectionately known, a stay at home housewife, raised their only child on a meagre wage and a ration book. He initially went to Stanley Green Infant School followed by Oakdale Juniors, before progressing on to Henry Harbin Secondary Modern (now Poole High School) by which time he had fallen under the spell of rock ‘n’ roll.

At the age of twelve, Greg requested a guitar for Christmas however, times were tough and initially his parents resisted, but come the day and much to his delight, there was a cheap Rosetti acoustic waiting for him under the tree. Every Saturday morning he would make the five-mile trek to Westbourne for guitar lessons with Don Strike, running through tricky Paganini violin exercises and old standards such as “Red Sails in the Sunset” or “Blue Moon”, while Don hovered nearby with a wooden ruler ready to wrap his knuckles if he strayed from the notation. After a couple of years he tired of Dons dusty old jazz tunes and devoted his time to learning rock ‘n’ roll numbers and working out how to achieve the trademark Marvin twang. Years later, Greg remarked that the two biggest musical influences in his life were Don Strike and Hank Marvin of The Shadows.

Greg Lake's House 1 (2)
The grey house was the Lake family home (Photograph John Cherry)

When Greg left school, he signed on as a draughtsman’s apprentice with Aish & Co in Poole and served his musical apprenticeship in his first group Unit 4, which he formed in 1962 with three local lads, guitarist David Jenes, keyboard player John Dickenson and drummer Kenny Beveridge. The band transported their gear in an old converted ambulance driven by Harry, Greg’s dad, to venues that are now mostly forgotten such as the Fleetsbridge Drill Hall, Lagland Street Boys Club, the Halfway Hotel in Parkstone and a regular gig at Greg’s local pub the Oakdale, where the evening invariably ended in a free-for-all of flying fists, upended furniture and airborne beer glasses. To avoid their gear getting trashed in the ensuing melee, they devised a plan of passing their equipment out through the window at the back of the stage to Harry, who loaded it into the van as soon as the bell rang for last orders.

Greg Lake Unit Four
Unit Four on top of their old ambulance outside the Oakdale pub

As part of Greg’s apprenticeship, he attended a day release course once a week at Bournemouth Technical College where he struck up a friendship with another student, Robert Fripp. They soon discovered that they shared an interest in playing the guitar and frequented the same tutor. As a result, the pair would often sit in Bob’s bedroom in Leigh Road, Wimborne trading licks and jamming. On a couple of occasions Fripp turned up at Unit Four gigs at the dingy Cellar Club in Poole, where the two lads would treat the audience to a rendition of their party piece, Ernesto Lecuona’s “Malaguena”, one of Don’s practice pieces.

In late 1964 Tony Batey replaced drummer Kenny Beveridge, John Dickenson also left, and Don Strike’s son Bev came in on bass. The new line-up unveiled a new name, The Time Checks, at a gig at the Cellar Club in Poole on 19th June 1965. As the gigs rolled in, the day job suffered. The late nights spent travelling home from far-flung parts of Dorset, Devon and Hampshire took their toll, as Greg would often nod off at his desk after the previous night’s excesses. In January 1967 Greg decided the two careers were incompatible, and he left Aish to a become professional a musician.

Photo The Shame
The Shame circa 1967, Left to Right: Greg Lake, John Dickenson, Malcom Brasher & Bill Nims 

With his newfound freedom, Greg formed The Shame, with guitarist Jon Petterssen, shortly to be replaced by the returning John Dickenson (b. Doncaster 2nd June 1945), bassist Malcolm Brasher (b. Wimborne 19th September 1945) and his friend from Poole Billy Nims (b. Manchester 3rd May 1946), a drummer and jazz fan fresh from Tony, Howard and the Dictators. The quartet signed a management deal with the top London agency Harvey Block Associates who secured the band a debut gig at Walsall City Hall and support slots with The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Ten Years After at Sussex University and Procol Harum at the Speakeasy. The band also negotiated a record deal with MGM and released a one-off single in September 1967 written by the sixteen-year-old American prodigy Janis Ian called “Don’t Go ‘Way Little Girl”. Recorded at Pye Studios in Marble Arch, it featured a lead vocal and eastern influenced guitar flourishes from Greg and gained a release on the Poppy label in America where it was renamed “Too Old to Go ‘Way Little Girl”. The Disc & Music Echo ran an article stating that the retailers W. H. Smith & Sons had removed a printed insert of the lyrics from the singles they stocked, as the song mentioned the word “raping”. Fearing that the BBC may ban the single because of the contentious content, the band pre-empted the problem by re-writing the line in question, but their manager printed up approximately 1,000 copies with the original lyric by mistake. Despite the adverse publicity stirring up some interest in the band, the record failed to sell in any quantity. The Shame recorded a further ten original songs mostly written by John Dickenson, apart from an early take of one of Greg’s most popular songs with ELP “Lucky Man”, for an album, but the tracks never got further than appearing on an Emidisc demo disc.

In early 1968 The Shame broke up, leaving Greg and John Dickenson to ponder their options. John suggested recruiting drummer Andrew McCullough (b. Bournemouth 19th November 1945), an employee at his family run Pinewood Motel in Ferndown, in a new band they christened Shy Limbs. Under the watchful eye of local agent and manager Carroll Hardingham, the trio secured a string of dates locally, including several at the Pavilion Ballroom’s Sunday Beat Club supporting big name bands. They also bagged a deal with CBS and recorded a single, “Reputation”, at Lansdowne Studios in London on 1st October. The song featured heavily phased drums and an organ passage not too dissimilar to Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”. The far superior flip side “Love”, was a catchy pop / psych ditty featuring Malcolm Brasher from Greg’s earlier band The Shame punching out muscular bass lines and Robert Fripp playing a guitar routed through a Burns Buzzaround fuzz box. To promote the release in May 1969, a launch party was thrown at the Dickenson motel for media types, friends and hangers on. By all accounts, a splendid time was had by all with plenty of booze and jazz woodbines on hand, but no amount of schmoozing could propel the record further than the lower reaches of the top one hundred. As for Greg, he didn’t even attend the bash, as he had long flown the coop and moved to London where he joined his new bandmates, The Gods.

An aside: In 1977 John Dickenson, ex Soundtrack guitarist Alan Barry and former League of Gentlemen guitarist ‘Tino’ Licinio resurfaced years later as the little-known King Harry. The band released an album, Divided We Stand, and two singles in the UK, plus one-off singles in the Netherlands and Italy. At the time of recording, Dickenson had sold his motel in Ferndown and invested in Movement Studios in Bridgewater, Somerset. The drummer, Harold King, mentioned on the album sleeve, was in fact David Mueller who couldn’t be named because of contractual difficulties and guitarist Alan Barry used the pseudonym Al Bowery, an alias he used frequently throughout his career. The original vinyl album is very hard to find but a CD did appear in 2015 on the Capitol label.

King Harry Discography
King Harry Singles:

Dear Mathew c/w Grandpa’s Farm: EMI (EMI 2652) 1977

You Stand Accused c/w Keeping the Peace: EMI (EMI 2745) 1978

Fighting Talk c/w Keeping the Peace: EMI (5C 006-06645) 1977 Netherlands only release

Infinito (Endless Miles) c/w Grandpa’s Farm: EMI (3C 006-06496) 1977 Italian only release

King Harry Albums:

Divided We Stand: EMI (EMC 3188) 1977

Divided We Stand: Capitol (0011753) 2015 CD reissue

The Gods started life as a blues band in 1965 with former Jimmy Brown Sound member Ken Hensley on keyboards, John Glascock on bass, his brother Brian on drums and future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor on guitar. After two moderately successful years they folded in June 1967 after Taylor got a call to replace Peter Green in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, forcing the down on his luck Hensley to move to Andover where he spent a period of time living in a van. By chance he met bass player Paul Newton who, with funding from his father, reformed the band with Joe Konas on guitar and Bournemouth born Lee Kerslake on drums. Through sheer hard graft they became a popular draw on the gig circuit, gaining a loyal following. In the winter of 1968 bassist Newton left to join Spice, a precursor to Uriah Heep, leaving a vacancy for Greg to fill after he received a call from his former manager Dru Harvey. He saw it as a way into the London scene and duly moved into the bands shared flat in Chiswick. Unfortunately, Greg’s tenure was short, as he believed The Gods lacked musical identity plus, he also felt that he didn’t fit in. Just before they were due to start recording their first album, the band and Greg had a falling out and he returned home to Poole.

Photo the gods
The Gods circa 1968, Left to Right: Joe Konas, Lee Kerslake, Ken Hensley & Greg Lake

In late December 1968 Greg received overtures from his old college friend Robert Fripp, enquiring if he would be interested in joining his embryonic band. With nothing else on the horizon, he accepted the invitation and moved into Brondesbury Road, Kilburn in January 1969. The band that would become King Crimson, Fripp on guitar, drummer Michael Giles, multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, lyricist Pete Sinfield and Greg on bass and vocals, began rehearsals on 13th January in the basement of the Fulham Palace Café. They made their low-key debut on 23rd February at the Change Is Club in Newcastle, before unleashing their unique brand of progressive rock on the London glitterati at the Speakeasy Club in Margaret Street on 9th April. High-profile dates at the Marquee, the Lyceum and the Revolution Club in Mayfair followed, where they astounded the punters and musicians in attendance, including a very impressed Jimi Hendrix. In June the newly appointed management team of David Enthoven and John Gaydon pulled off a coupe by squeezing the band onto the bottom of the bill of The Rolling Stones free concert in Hyde Park on 5th July. Organised initially to unveil their new guitarist Mick Taylor, the gig ultimately became a memorial show for former member Brian Jones who was found dead in his swimming pool at home two days before the concert took place. King Crimson opened the proceedings early in the afternoon with a storming half hour, seven song set that won a standing ovation from the gathered throng and rave reviews from the music press.

Flushed with success, the band knuckled down to recording their debut album. After two aborted attempts with unsuitable producers, Crimson finally got down to business at Wessex Studios where they recorded In the Court of the Crimson King with no outside interference. Released on 12th October 1969 and housed in a startling sleeve painted by Barry Godber, the reception was decidedly mixed. Some critics were ecstatic at the variety and dynamism of the music on display, while others were not so complimentary by showing disappointment after their incendiary live shows. The Who’s Pete Townshend gave it a ringing endorsement, calling the record “an uncanny masterpiece” and the fans agreed by pushing it up to number five in the album charts.

In the months preceding the album’s release, the band added to their growing number of fans by travelling the length and breadth of the UK while keeping a weekly residency at the Marquee in London. Their reputation spread like wildfire and crossed the pond where a twenty-one date American tour was arranged. The concerts were a partial success, however, on the drive to their final run of dates at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, McDonald and Giles dropped a bombshell by confiding in Fripp that the pair were leaving the band. Both hated flying and endlessly hanging around hotels and dressing rooms waiting for show time had become tedious, plus they were missing their girlfriends. With two key members of the band wanting out, Lake pondered his future and mulled over an option to team up with Keith Emerson of The Nice after a conversation with the organist in the bar at the Fillmore. Greg believed the integrity of Crimson would be comprised with the departure of two key members and couldn’t see how they could function under the same name. After much deliberation and soul searching, he also quit.

Despite a very promising start, King Crimson were finished after one album, eighty gigs and barely one year in existence. In the face of the band being severely depleted, Island still exerted pressure on Fripp and Sinfield for a swift follow up. After drawing a blank finding replacements, Lake was persuaded to delay his departure and negotiated Crimson’s WEM PA system as payment to stay on as vocalist for their next album. Drummer Michael Giles was also persuaded to stick around and his brother Peter came in on bass, but on a strict session basis. As recording of what was to become In the Wake of Poseidon progressed, McDonald’s absence was filled by the jazz pianist Keith Tippett and the saxophonist Mel Collins. Greg provided vocals on all the songs apart from “Cadence and Cascade” which was tackled by Fripp’s old school friend Gordon Haskell. The first single, “Cat Food”, received a supposedly helpful boost when the band mimed an appearance on Top of the Pops, but it did little to massage sales. The album itself sold well and won mostly positive reviews, although the consensus at the time was that it was too similar to its predecessor, almost to the point of imitation.

When the sessions were completed, the band scatted to the four winds with Greg throwing in his lot with Keith Emerson. The Nice was a trio led from the front by Emerson on Hammond organ, ably backed up by bassist Lee Jackson and drummer Brian ‘Blinky’ Davison. However, they had run their course and the ever ambitious Emerson wanted to up his game with a better calibre of musicians. From the outset it was always their intention to form a trio with another drummer, but rumours persisted in the press that a super group with Jimi Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell was on the cards. Apparently the pair were in discussion with Mitchell about a possible jam with the guitarist, but the proposed meeting never came to pass. Instead, they recruited former Atomic Rooster and Crazy World of Arthur Brown drummer Carl Palmer. The three musicians left any ambiguity about who they might be at the door by naming the newly hatched band Emerson Lake and Palmer, or ELP for short.

Photo Emerson, Lake & Palmer
ELP, Left to Right: Keith Emerson, Greg Lake & Carl Palmer

ELP signed to Island and immediately set about recording their self-titled debut album at Advision Studios with Greg in charge of production, assisted by engineer Eddy Offord. Released in November, the record primarily contained songs that would inform their early repertoire and climbed to number four in the charts on the back of mostly good reviews. Lake’s “Lucky Man”, written at the age of twelve after learning the four chords that make up the song, only made the final cut because of the album being one track short. Initially Emerson opposed its inclusion but relented after adding an inspired one take moog solo. The song enjoyed considerable chart action in the USA, Canada and Holland when it was released as a single and became a mainstay in their set list.

A low key gig at the Guildhall, Plymouth on 23rd August 1970 was arranged, specifically to avoid the glare of the London music press and to prepare for their official debut at the third “Isle of Wight Festival’ six days later in front of an estimated crowd of 600,000. They took to the stage on Saturday 29th August in the mid-afternoon, just after the American band Spirit, flanked by two over-charged cannons loaded for the grand finale of their ambitious centrepiece, “Pictures at an Exhibition”. Their hour long set also included “The Barbarian”, “Take a Pebble”, the old Nice favourite “Rondo” and by way of an encore, a rocking version of B. Bumble and the Stingers chestnut “Nut Rocker”. The appearance catapulted them into the vanguard of the progressive rock movement however, their triumph was tempered by accusations of pretension and self-aggrandizement. A withering comment from the DJ John Peel described them as, “A tragic waste of talent and electricity”. Undeterred, the band toured Europe and the UK calling in at the Bournemouth Winter Gardens on 20th October 1970, a venue they would return to twice more on the 6th April 1971 and the 10th November 1972. At the latter show Emerson led the celebrations on Greg’s twenty-fifth birthday, by accompanying the audience and several of his friends and relations in a rendition of “Happy Birthday”.

In the new year the band started worked on their follow up, Tarkus, named after a twenty minute plus concept piece written by Emerson and Lake. An initial uneasiness from Greg about the track being “too weird” proved to be unfounded, as their fans lapped it up and propelled the album to the top of the charts. Meanwhile, the critics were split, Melody Maker raved, “There are so many remarkable moments during this hugely satisfying set that it would take several column inches to give a blow by blow account”, while the NME countered with, “Rarely have I heard so many minutes of what is largely self-indulgent, confused sound”. The recording sessions were interspersed with several concerts around the UK and one, at the Newcastle City Hall, was taped and released as a live budget recording of the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.

On 21st April 1971 ELP made their American debut at Thiel College, Greenville, another intentionally low-key event booked as an acclimatisation exercise to settle their nerves before tackling the prestigious Fillmore East and Carnegie Hall. The band returned a couple of months later and consolidated their position as a major draw, with sell-out concerts at the larger Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Gardens in New York.

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The best part of January 1972 was spent back in Advision Studios working on Trilogy, an album Greg considers their best, although he later admitted it was a pain to play live due to the abundant overdubs. They remedied the problem with their next record, Brain Salad Surgery, by purchasing an old cinema in Fulham, London as a rehearsal space where they ran through new compositions live before committing them to tape. Trilogy peaked at number two and contained an arrangement of Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown”, the two part “Endless Enigma”, another acoustic ballad from Greg called “From the Beginning”, plus “The Sheriff”, “Living Sin” and the title track. Brain Salad Surgery appeared eighteen months later and became their most popular record to date. It featured the thirty-minute tour de force “Karn Evil 9”, “Toccata” based on the fourth movement of Alberto Ginastera’s First Piano Concerto, two brief songs, “Still…You Turn Me On” and the jokey “Benny the Bouncer” with lyrics by ex-King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield and an adaption of Hubert Parry’s hymn “Jerusalem”. H. R. Giger of Alien fame, painted the eye-catching sleeve for the band’s first record on their own Manticore label which, apart from releasing ELP product, also became home to PFM, Banco, Pete Sinfield, Stray Dog, Keith Christmas and the rock ‘n’ roll legend Little Richard.

During 1973 ELP ramped up the stage production a couple of notches by employing fifty roadies and renting two forty foot long articulated trucks to transport over twenty tons of equipment. Greg also acquired his infamous £6,000 Persian carpet and a new double necked guitar custom built by Tony Zemaitis, which addressed the problem of switching from bass to guitar without stopping mid-song. Unfortunately, it proved to be a burdensome beast and was soon abandoned. (Incidentally, Greg’s rug, which he stood on throughout his ELP career sold at auction in 2019 for $27,500). The inevitable outcome of putting their ambitious show on the road helped usher in the age of stadium rock, as larger crowds were needed to cover the spiralling costs, a move which made them one of the biggest grossing bands in the world, second only to the all-conquering Led Zeppelin.

California Jam 1978
‘California Jam Festival’ at the Ontario Speedway, April 1974

On 6th April 1974 ELP co-headlined the ‘California Jam Festival’ at the Ontario Speedway, forty miles east of downtown Los Angeles with Deep Purple. Playing to an estimated 400,000 fans, Black Sabbath, The Eagles, Earth Wind and Fire, Black Oak Arkansas, Seals and Crofts and Rare Earth also appeared before a nationwide audience via a live TV broadcast. Deep Purple had originally been booked as the official headliners, but elected to go on just before dusk in case the other bands overran and curtailed their set. Unusually for this type of event, it ran ahead of schedule and Ritchie Blackmore procrastinated until sunset to maximise the effect of Deep Purples entrance. After an hour long delay and to the annoyance of the organisers, the band finally hit the stage but their set ended in chaos. Richie Blackmore smashed a TV camera with his Stratocaster before launching it into the audience and an over-zealous roadie ignited one of his petrol doused Marshall stacks, causing the stage to catch fire. The ensuing ruckus with fire marshals and TV executives resulted in the band fleeing by helicopter. Un-phased by the shenanigans of their fellow compatriots, ELP won over the huge audience with their virtuosity and spectacular stage show, which climaxed with Emerson playing a spinning grand piano while hoisted high above the stage. At the time, the festival set the record for the loudest PA and the highest grossing gate receipts in history.

Never ones to do things by half measures, several gigs from the rest of the tour were recorded and released as an extravagant, sprawling, three disc long player with an equally extravagant, sprawling title, Welcome Back my Friends to the Show That Never Ends….Ladies and Gentlemen Emerson Lake and Palmer. Further concerts throughout Europe and America culminated in a gig at the Roosevelt Stadium, New Jersey on 20th August 1974, before the band took an elongated two year break.

The following year Greg released the biggest selling solo single of his career, “I Believe in Father Christmas”, a critique on the over commercialisation of the festive season and the loss of innocence. Written by Pete Sinfield with a refrain lifted from the “Lieutenant Kije Suite” by Prokofiev, the record climbed to number two in December, missing out on the top spot because of the phenomenal success of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Over the years it has become a seasonal perennial joining Slade, Wham, Wizard et al. to be wheeled out every Christmas on the radio and in shopping malls.

After their hiatus, ELP reconvened with Works Volume 1, a double album with three sides allocated to each member and a fourth featuring the band in full flight. It spawned their best-known piece and number one single, “Fanfare for a Common Man”. While they had been away, a seismic shift had occurred in the musical landscape as they were now depicted by the British music press as rock dinosaurs, peddling boring, pretentious rubbish in vast auditoriums to long-haired hippies. Punk embraced the DIY ethic of short simple songs, the complete antithesis of grandiose concept albums, interminable solos and pompous lyrics. ELP’s answer to anarchy and gobbing was to stage their biggest tour yet, by traversing America with a seventy-piece orchestra and a choir. After auditioning nearly five thousand hopefuls, the final ensemble rehearsed for two months in a hockey arena in Montreal. The logistics to ferry the musicians and equipment around the country took militaristic precision and a road crew numbering sixty-three, along with a plethora of personal assistants, accountants, a doctor and Carl Palmer’s own karate instructor. It took seven articulated trucks to transport the equipment, plus a further three for the larger outdoor venues, three buses for the orchestra and choir and a plane for the band, apart from Palmer, who had his own tour bus. Every orchestra member’s instrument was individually amplified and fed through a seventy-two thousand watt PA. The budget for this extravaganza ran to $200,000 a week. The tour kicked off in Louisville on 24th March, but three weeks later their accountants imparted the news that due to escalating costs they had to pull the plug before all three members ended up broke. Facing imminent bankruptcy, they reverted to performing as a trio, apart from three shows at Madison Square Gardens. Maybe the punks had a point.

ELP’s sixth studio album Works Volume 2, a hotchpotch of left over’s from previous sessions plus a re-working of Lake’s “I Believe in Father Christmas”, just scraped into the top twenty. While their seventh, Love Beach fared worse by stalling just inside the top fifty. Recorded under duress as a contract filler in Nassau, the finished product was mixed by Emerson after Lake flew home early in a huff. Even the cover art was ridiculed by the band, who complained it made them look like the Bee Gees as they posed on a beach in unbuttoned shirts. There was no way back and the band split acrimoniously over the old chestnut musical differences and the ongoing fiscal fall-out from the bloated orchestral dates.

Greg wasted no time in launching a solo career in 1981 with a self-titled album featuring a core band of guitarist Gary Moore, ex Joe Cocker keyboard man Tommy Eyre, drummer Ted McKenna from Rory Gallagher’s band plus Oakdale resident and former member of Spontaneous Combustion, Tris Margetts on bass. Several guests, including the nucleus of American AOR band Toto, session man Dean Parks, former King Crimson band mate Michael Giles and Bruce Springsteen’s saxophonist Clarence Clemons, all added spice to the mix. Recorded at Abbey Road, the record spawned two singles “Love You Too Much”, a co-write with Bob Dylan and “Let Me Love You Once”. A month long UK tour with Moore, Margetts, Eyre and McKenna called into the Bournemouth Winter Gardens on 25th October, before they concluded the year with a handful of dates in the US and Canada. The set list was an eclectic mix of songs from Greg’s solo album, the King Crimson and ELP back catalogues plus a couple of Gary Moore numbers including the crowd pleasing “Parisienne Walkways”. For his second solo outing, Manoeuvres, Greg retained his touring band and produced an album of mostly restrained, well-crafted songs glossed with an eighties production sheen. For whatever reasons, he decided not to promote the record and let the band go.

In October 1983, a telephone call from Carl Palmer set in motion a chain of events that would see him become a short-lived member of Asia. Because of the band sacking John Wetton, they needed someone to step in and salvage four gigs in Japan, one of which was to be recorded and broadcast live around the world via satellite. Greg’s initial instinct was to decline, but Palmer’s persistence paid off and he spent the next two weeks desperately learning their repertoire. Prepared or not, on the night of 6th December he stepped out onto the stage of the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo with Palmer, guitarist Steve Howe and Geoff Downes on keyboards. To help lessen the load, the band lowered the keys on several songs to suit Greg’s voice and provided a teleprompter to relay the lyrics, but he still found it a nerve-wracking experience and bowed out as soon as the dates had been concluded. Wetton eventually returned to the fold, but over the years, Greg has received flack over his contribution from fans, which is slightly unfair as he got the band out of what could have potentially been a financially damaging situation.

In 1985, Keith Emerson and Greg patched up their differences with a plan to reform ELP however, there was a problem, Carl Palmer was contractually tied to Asia and couldn’t commit. After auditions failed to produce a replacement, they finally enlisted Cozy Powell and recorded a self-titled album, Emerson Lake and Powell. The record carried on the ELP tradition of long progressive pieces mixed with shorter ballads.

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The original ELP finally returned in 1991 with the comeback album Black Moon and dates throughout America, Japan, Europe and the UK, which included a gig at the Bournemouth International Centre on 25th November. 1994’s Hot Seat followed, but the band had to abandon any notion of concerts, as the rigours of constant touring caught up with Palmer when he was treated for carpal tunnel syndrome and Emerson contracted a repetitive strain disorder. They came back revitalised in 1996 with extensive tours of North and South America, Japan and Europe to gradually diminishing returns. The last show in San Diego on August 31st 1998 ended on a sour note as Greg and Keith argued about the production of their next album. By the time they returned home, the band had ceased to exist.

In 2001 Greg, a huge Beatles fan, realised a dream when he joined forces with one of his boyhood heroes in Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band along with Roger Hodgson from Supertramp, Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter, Howard Jones, drummer Sheila E and session drummer Mark Rivera. Gigs on an American tour were recorded for a live album, King Biscuit Hour Presents Ringo and his New All Star Band which came with a performance of Greg’s “Lucky Man”. Three years later he appeared with Ringo’s son Zak on The Who’s greatest hits package, Then and Now, filling in for the deceased John Entwistle on one of two new songs, “Real Good Looking Boy”. The following year he reconvened The Greg Lake Band with Dave Arch on keyboards, bassist Trevor Barry, drummer Brett Morgan, and Florian Opahle on guitar for a tour of Britain. During the spring of 2010 Emerson and Lake made up yet again and embarked on a stripped down, unplugged tour of America covering material from The Nice, King Crimson and ELP songbooks.

Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer ‘High Voltage Festival’ in Victoria Park, London, 2010

ELP have sold over fifty million records worldwide and during their heyday rivaled Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple in popularity. They haven’t always been the critic’s choice with one commenting “How do you spell pretentious…E-L-P”. Ultimately though, it’s the fans who decide and after the false dawn of punk, the continuing onslaught from the music press and being snubbed by the ‘Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’, the band proved they were still a draw when they agreed to play a one-off gig at the ‘High Voltage Festival’ in Victoria Park, London on 25th July 2010. The appearance was a success, despite several technical problems, and a tour of Europe and Japan was mooted but quietly shelved after a colon cancer scare for Emerson. Sadly, Keith committed suicide on 10th March 2016 at his home in Santa Monica, California, after suffering years of depression, thus scuppering any chance of a reunion. He was seventy-one years old.

Greg’s autobiography Lucky Man was published the year after he died

While writing his autobiography, Lucky Man, Greg hit upon the idea of ‘Songs of a Lifetime’, an intimate concert showcasing compositions from his back catalogue and songs that had influenced him throughout his career. Interspersed with humorous anecdotes and stories from his time travelling the world, he took the concept around the UK and USA throughout 2012 and Japan and Europe in 2013. A live album culled from various shows, Songs of a Lifetime, also appeared in 2013. Over the next couple of years he disappeared from view until an announcement from his manager, Stewart Young, announced that Greg had died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer on Tuesday 7th December 2016, nine months after his band mate Keith Emerson.

Thirty years on from his humble upbringing in Oakdale, Greg bought Stanbridge Mill, a large property nestled behind the Horton Inn, from Lord Shaftsbury for an estimated £70,000. In later life he lived with his wife of forty years Regina in Richmond, where he collected a valuable library of 18th and 19th century first edition books. They have a married daughter, Natasha, who presented them with a grandson Gabriel in 2012. In January 2015 he was awarded an honorary degree of ‘Doctor of Music and Lyrical Composition’ by the Conservatorio Nicolini of Piacenza, Italy. Along with Keith Emerson, Greg was a giant in progressive rock, a fine vocalist, composer, guitarist and bass player.  

For a comprehensive overview of the Emerson, Lake & Palmer legacy, try the twenty-four track, 2004 double CD The Ultimate Collection on Sanctuary Records. Greg Lake The Anthology – A Musical Journey on BMG, covers Greg’s whole career from The Shame and Shy Limbs to King Crimson, ELP and his solo career on a comprehensive double CD containing thirty-three tracks.

Greg Lake Discography
The Shame Singles

Don’t Go  ‘Way Little Girl c/w Dreams Don’t Bother Me: MGM (MGM 1349) 1967

Too Old To Go ‘Way Little Girl c/w Dreams Don’t Bother Me: Poppy (POP 501) 1967 American issue

Shy Limbs Singles

Reputation c/w Love: CBS (4190) 1969

 King Crimson Singles

The Court of the Crimson King Pt. 1 c/w The Court of the Crimson King Pt. 2: Island (WIP 6071) 1969

Cat Food c/w Groon: Island (WIP 6080) 1970

 King Crimson Albums

In the Court of the Crimson King: Island (ILPS 9111) 1969

In the Wake of Poseidon: Island (ILPS 9127) 1970

Live in Hyde Park (July 5th 1969): Discipline Global Mobile (CLUB12) 2002

 Emerson, Lake and Palmer Singles

Jerusalem c/w When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I’ll be Your Valentine: Manticore (K 13503) 1973

Fanfare for a Common Man c/w Brain Salad Surgery: Atlantic (K 10946) 1977

Ce’st La Vie c/w Jeremy Bender: Atlantic (K 10990) 1977

Watching Over You c/w Hallowed Be Thy Name: Atlantic (K11061) 1977

 Emerson, Lake and Palmer Albums

Emerson Lake and Palmer: Island (ILPS 9123) 1970

Tarkus: Island (ILPS 9155) 1971

Pictures at an Exhibition: Island (HELP 1) 1971 Recorded live in Newcastle

Trilogy: Island (ILPS 9186) 1972

Brain Salad Surgery: Manticore (K 53501) 1973

Welcome Back my Friends to the Show That Never Ends….Ladies and Gentlemen Emerson Lake and Palmer: Manticore (K 63500) 1974 Recorded live in various venues

Works Volume 1: Atlantic (K 80009) 1977

Works Volume 2: Atlantic (K 50422) 1977

Love Beach: Atlantic (K 50552) 1978

Emerson Lake and Palmer: In Concert: Atlantic (K 50652) 1979 Recorded live in Montreal

Black Moon: Victory Music (828 318-1) 1992

Hot Seat: Victory Music (828 554-2) 1994

Live at the Isle of Wight, 1970: Manticore (M-CD-101) 1997

Emerson Lake & Palmer The Ultimate Collection: Sanctuary (TDSAN 009) 2004 24 track double CD compilation

Emerson, Lake and Powell Album

Emerson Lake and Powell: Polydor (POLD 5191) 1986

 Greg Lake Singles

I Believe in Father Christmas c/w Humbug: Manticore (K 13511) 1975

Watching Over You c/w Hallowed be Thy Name:  Atlantic (K 1106) 1978

Love You Too Much c/w Someone: Chrysalis (CHS 2553) 1981

Let Me Love You Once c/w Retribution Drive: Chrysalis (CHS 2571) 1981

It Hurts c/w Retribution Drive: Chrysalis (104 035) 1982

I Believe in Father Christmas c/w Humbug: Atlantic (A 7393) 1992 Re-release

 Greg Lake Albums

Greg Lake: Chrysalis (CHR 1357)

Manoeuvres: Chrysalis (CHR 1392) 1983

From the Beginning: The Greg Lake Retrospective: Rhino (72627) 1997

From the Underground: The Official Bootleg: Lemon Records (CDLEM 160) 1998

From the Underground 2- Deeper into the Mine: An Official Greg Lake Bootleg: Lemon Records (CDLEM 161) 2003

Greg Lake: Classic Studio (5034X) 2007 Recorded live in Stevenage November 2005

Songs of a Lifetime: Esoteric (EANTCD 1010) 2013

Ride the Tiger: Manticore (MR002) 2015 Featuring songs recorded in 1989 / 1990 with Geoff Downes and Michael Giles

Greg Lake – London ‘81: Purple Pyramid Records (CLP-2228-1) 2015 Recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1981

The Greg Lake Retrospective-From the Beginning: Rhino (R2 72627) 1997

Songs of a Lifetime: Esoteric Antenna (EANTCD1010) 2013

Ride the Tiger: Mantcore (MR002) 2015 A compilation of recordings from 1989 – 1990 with Geoff Downes on keyboards and Michael Giles on drums

Greg Lake The Anthology – A Musical Journey: BMG (BMGCAT 404DCD) 2020 A double CD, 33 track overview of Greg’s entire career

 Greg Lake Albums as a Guest

Ringo Starr and His All Star Band: King Biscuit Hour Presents Ringo and his New All Star Band: King Biscuit Recordings (7930188003) “Lucky Man”

The Who: Then and Now: Polydor (6202498421574) 2004 “Real Good Looking Boy”

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