Keith Emerson

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Keith Emerson bigraphy, stories - British keyboard player and composer

Keith Emerson : biography

2 November 1944 –

Keith Noel Emerson (born 2 November 1944, Todmorden, in the West Riding of Yorkshire), is an English keyboard player and composer. Formerly a member of the Keith Emerson Trio, John Brown’s Bodies, The T-Bones, The V.I.P.’s, P.P. Arnold’s backing band, and The Nice (which evolved from P.P. Arnold’s band), he was a founder of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), one of the early supergroups, in 1970. Following the break-up of ELP, circa 1979, Emerson had modest success with Emerson, Lake & Powell in the 1980s as well as with 3, with the album To the Power of Three. ELP reunited during the early 1990s, releasing the album Black Moon. Emerson also reunited The Nice in 2002 for a tour. His latest album, Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla, was released in 2008.

Along with contemporaries Richard Wright of Pink Floyd, Tony Banks of Genesis, Billy Ritchie of Clouds, Rick Wakeman of Yes, and Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Emerson is widely regarded as one of the top keyboard players of the progressive rock era. "No one else captured the hearts of fledgling rock keyboardists through the ’70s and ’80s the way he did." Allmusic refers to Emerson as "perhaps the greatest, most technically accomplished keyboardist in rock history"."Keith Emerson has proven himself perhaps the greatest, most technically accomplished keyboardist in rock history."

Partial list of pieces based on other composers’ works

Note that lack of credit does not imply plagiarism. It is certain that, where required, royalties were paid to composers or their estates. Permission to use pieces was sometimes denied by the composer’s family or estate, as for instance with Gustav Holst’s Mars, the Bringer of War. Aaron Copland was said to be somewhat puzzled by Emerson’s take on Fanfare For the Common Man, but approved its use. Alberto Ginastera, on the other hand, was thrilled by Emerson’s electronic realisation of his first piano concerto, the fourth movement of which appeared on their album Brain Salad Surgery under the title "Toccata," and declared that he wished he could have done it in that fashion.

With the Nice

  • "America, 2nd Amendment", from West Side Story’s "America", by Leonard Bernstein, credited, quoting Antonín Dvořák’s symphony No. 9, From the New World, uncredited.
  • "Rondo", derived from Dave Brubeck’s "Blue Rondo à la Turk", uncredited, quoting Bach, Italian Concerto third movement, uncredited.
  • "Diary of an Empty Day", from Symphonie Espagnole by Édouard Lalo, credited.
  • "Azrael Revisited", quoting Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor, credited, and Lennie Tristano’s Turkish Mambo, uncredited.
  • "Ars Longa Vita Brevis" – Bach, the third Brandenburg Concerto, Allegro, credited.
  • "Intermezzo from the Karelia Suite" – Sibelius, credited.
  • "Pathetique", Symphony No. 6 by Tchaikovsky, credited.
  • "Hang on to a Dream", from "How Can We Hang On to a Dream?" by Tim Hardin, credited, quoting (during a live recording) "Summertime", from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, uncredited.
  • "She Belongs to Me", by Bob Dylan, credited, quoting Bach, uncredited, and fragments of the theme from The Magnificent Seven, by Elmer Bernstein, uncredited.
  • "Country Pie", by Bob Dylan, credited, lyrics partly set to Bach, the sixth Brandenburg Concerto, credited.

With ELP

  • "The Barbarian", based on Allegro barbaro, Sz. 49, BB 63 by Béla Bartók, uncredited on US release of Emerson Lake & Palmer (credited on the British Manticore re-pressing of the original LP, on the back cover of the LP jacket).
  • "Knife Edge", based on Sinfonietta by Leoš Janáček, uncredited on US release (credited on the British Manticore re-pressing of the original LP, on the back cover of the LP jacket); middle section based on French Suites by J.S. Bach, uncredited.
  • "The Only Way (Hymn)", incorporating (in the song’s introduction and bridge) J.S. Bach’s Toccata in F and Prelude VI, credited on Tarkus.
  • "Are You Ready Eddy?", based on the tune of Bobby Troup’s song "The Girl Can’t Help It" and including a quote from the Assembly bugle call, both uncredited (on Tarkus).
  • Pictures at an Exhibition, by Modest Mussorgsky, credited.
  • "Blues Variation" from Pictures at an Exhibition also contains an uncredited quote of the ‘head’ of Bill Evans’ minor blues piece "Interplay", during Keith Emerson’s Hammond Organ solo.
  • "Nutrocker", adapted by Kim Fowley (credited) from Tchaikovsky’s "March of the Wooden Soldiers" (uncredited).
  • "Hoedown", from Rodeo by Aaron Copland, credited, quoting "Shortenin’ Bread" and "Turkey in the Straw"", both traditional.
  • "Abaddon’s Bolero", quoting "The Girl I Left Behind", traditional.
  • "Jerusalem", by C. Hubert H. Parry, credited.
  • "Toccata", from a piano concerto by Alberto Ginastera, endorsed by the composer, credited.
  • "Karn Evil 9, 2nd Impression", quoting "St. Thomas", a Caribbean melody sometimes attributed to Sonny Rollins, uncredited.
  • "Fanfare for the Common Man", by Aaron Copland, credited.
  • Carmina Burana, by Carl Orff, quoted in an extended solo in live recordings from Poland.
  • With Emerson, Lake & Powell, the main theme to "Touch & Go" is identical to the English folk song "Lovely Joan", better known as the counterpoint tune in Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Greensleeves Not credited.Vaughan Williams: Greensleeves/Tallis Fantasia. The New Queen’s Hall Orchestra/Wordsworth. Argo 440 116-2 (1994)
  • "Romeo & Juliet" from Romeo and Juliet suite by Sergei Prokofiev, credited.
  • "Love at First Sight" intro, 12 Etudes Op.10 (a son ami Franz Liszst) – No.1 in C major, allegro, by Frederic Chopin, uncredited.