On this day in 1948, Greg Lake was born in Bournemouth, Dorset, England. Lake became famous as the lead singer, lyricist and bassist for the '70s progressive-rock act Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
Lake played guitar and sang in the Godz before joining the art-rock band King Crimson in 1969. He contributed to the band's In the Court of the Crimson King (1969) and began sessions for a second LP. But he soon met the Nice's keyboard player, Keith Emerson, on Crimson's U.S. tour, and the pair decided to form a new band.
Lake and Emerson enlisted ex-Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer to complete their vision of a rock trio who would base their music on classical structures. One of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's first gigs was the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, where they shared a bill with the Doors, the Who and Joni Mitchell.
ELP's eponymous debut was issued in late 1970 and featured the mellow single "Lucky Man," which reached #48 in the U.S. But the group became famous for its stage show, which was unlike any other in rock music. ELP's elaborately presented concerts focused on Emerson's lightning-fast strokes on massed keyboards and his knife-tossing, Hammond B-3-tilting antics, as well as Palmer's rapid-fire drumming.
Lake disagreed with his partners about the direction of 1971's Tarkus, which Emerson had conceived as an extended suite centered around the Moog synthesizer. But Lake relented, and the LP hit #1 in the U.K. and the top 10 in America. Next, ELP issued Pictures at an Exhibition, a live recording of a 1971 gig focusing on Mussorgsky's work of the same title.
The less-intricate Trilogy (1972), featuring the ballad "From the Beginning" and a take on Aaron Copland's "Hoedown," was another major hit. ELP then formed their Manticore record label for 1973's Brain Salad Surgery. As with the trio's previous LPs, a heavy radio-favorite was a ballad of Lake's: "Still You Turn Me On." The album also featured one of the band's signature performed-live songs, the bombastic "Karn Evil 9."
Reflecting ELP's growing pretensions, their next LP was the live, triple-disc Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends; Ladies and Gentlemen ... Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1974). During 1975's holiday season, ELP released Lake's "I Believe in Father Christmas."
Works (1977) signaled the beginning of the end for the band. Though it sold well initially, the double LP primarily featured the bandmembers on solo tracks. Lake's "C'est La Vie" received radio airplay in the U.S. Also, around the time of the album's release, the public was tiring of the art-rock movement that ELP and other bands, such as Yes, helped pioneer. Works, Volume Two was largely a collection of B-sides and outtakes.
ELP announced their breakup around the time they released Love Beach, in late 1978. After a couple of solo LPs, Lake briefly joined Palmer in the band Asia.
In 1985, Lake re-teamed with Emerson and enlisted drummer Cozy Powell to take Palmer's place in a new version of ELP. They issued Emerson, Lake and Powell the following year and toured before Powell departed. Another short-lived trio featuring Palmer and Emerson were 3, which issued To The Power of Three (1988) with guitarist/bassist Robert Berry.
In 1992, Emerson, Lake and Palmer reunited for Black Moon, which included an arrangement of Prokofiev's "The Dance of the Knights" from "Romeo and Juliet." The trio began a successful world tour, and Atlantic Records issued the ELP collection The Atlantic Years. The next year, Emerson, Lake and Palmer released Live at the Royal Albert Hall.
An ELP box set, Return of the Manticore, came out in the U.S. in 1993. A year later, the band issued In The Hot Seat, and Lake gave a $5,000 check to the Sara Anne Wood Rescue Center, to benefit a young girl believed to have been murdered by an alleged Massachusetts serial-killer.
Emerson soon developed a debilitating repetitive stress disorder in one hand that required surgery and has severely hampered ELP's recording and performing abilities.
Last year, a King Biscuit Flower Hour program was issued as Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Greatest Hits Live.
Other birthdays: Frank Maudsley (A Flock of Seagulls), 39.