KTXQ Greg Lake Interview, 1992

Redbeard: KTXQ, Fort Worth-Dallas, Q102, Texas' Best Rock and Roll. I'm Redbeard, and joining us live in the Out of Control Room this afternoon, is Greg Lake - looking just hale and hearty and - you look terrific! You look like some kind of health club ad, or something!

Greg Lake: It's the worry that does it.

R: <chuckling>

GL: How are you?

R: I'm doing fine!

GL: It's lovely to see you again.

R: Nice to see you again, too. I believe it was January, and we got together for dinner, and a most remarkable thing happened. You and Carl Palmer - Keith was a bit under the weather that evening - but you and Carl Palmer and Stewart Young - we sat in some, I don't know, Lincoln Continental or something with a big, big stereo system…

GL: That's right, I remember that.

R: …And you decided that you'd play for me some new Emerson, Lake and Palmer music, and of course we're going to share that with the folks here this afternoon on Q102. I know you've been asked this by others including me, but there's so many folks that have called since the ELP album has come out, that I guess, if you'd indulge me just one more time, how is it that the three of you came to do this once again, here in 1992? What makes this the right time?

GL: Well…I mean, apart from the fact that…I think, in a way there's a sort of malaise in the music industry, generally. It seems to me that it's either sort of heavy-metal-rock or disco-dance-programmatic music; it's predominantly that. So I think it's a good time for people to hear some good, original, new and original music. The reason we did it is because we were simply invited by Phil Carson of Victory Records to do a film score. We started the film score, but three or four weeks into it, we'd had a vast collection of material together. As soon as he heard it he said, 'Look…you know, you guys really should put this out as an album.' The thing was half done before we'd realized that's what we were about.

R: You've known Phil Carson; for those who don't know Phil from the record business, Phil was an executive vice-president with Atlantic Records, who was highly responsible for bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Led Zeppelin, and Yes doing phenomenally well in the last fifteen or twenty years. In America, he was a big part of all that. Do you think that when he initially contacted you, he really had a movie score and that's all or do you that, you told me once, maybe he was being clever?

GL: Well yeah, I think that probably, Phil moves in mysterious ways, you know.

R: <laughs>

GL: I'm sure that he, in the back of his mind, he'd always liked to…he'd always been a big fan of ELP and he'd helped us tremendously throughout the Atlantic years. So no, it doesn't surprise me, wouldn't surprise me if that was at the back of his mind. It certainly was a nice way to go about it because that way we had the music first, and the decision to rebuild the group again, second. I think if it had been the other way around, we'd have started getting conceptual, and da-dal-da-dal-da, you know (click HERE to listen). It's good that the music came first.

R: This is not your first visit to an American radio station since the release of the new Emerson, Lake and Palmer album, right Greg?

GL: No.

R: Now honestly, if John, here, your good associate, and the folks listening to Q102 - if they weren't here and you and I were just talking over dinner again, and I said, 'Well, how has the reception been? How does it feel, were you at all surprised at how many ELP fans there are in America?'

GL: Yeah…it's been…it's extremely touching, and quite shocking, actually. When you're away for a while, and you think, 'By this time people have forgotten,' but truly, they haven't. I have people every day, three or four times a day, come up to me and say, 'Ah man, you know that Brain Salad Surgery record, that took me through college.' Going through all that, it's a lovely thing. You sit in a car and hear "Lucky Man," or "From the Beginning" - and realize, it was all those years ago, and people still play it and still it forms part of their lives. All I can say is, it's just very touching.

R: You had the good fortune to do that, to be that, to be a part of that. How does it feel to get another crack up at the cricket bat? You're getting another swing at that!

GL: Yeah! It's a strange thing. I suppose I've just been lucky throughout my career. I had different things that unfolded for me at different times. I don't really think about it…it's just is to me that I think we've made a good record here, it's an honest record…a good quality record, and I think that we're just about to go out on tour. It seems that one thing sort of logically follows on from another. It's a wonderful thing to be back, especially amongst all the friends that we have, and indeed yourself, I count high among those people.

R: Thank you, I am honored! We're talking with Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Now this song needs no introduction, here at Q102, but we'll find out the true life story behind "Black Moon," from Greg Lake, coming up next on Q102.

<"Black Moon" plays>

R: I think that's the way it ends! That is "Black Moon," from Emerson, Lake and Palmer on Q102. The first Emerson, Lake and Palmer album the three of you, in…

GL: In a long time, twelve years, I don't know…you probably know better than I would.

R: When you first put the three of you back together again, how long did it take, all of those feelings from twelve years ago, that chemistry…how long did it take to gel?

GL: In a sense it was instantaneous, because it's just the three-band, and 'bang,' you know. I suppose it's a chemical - chemistry thing, where it's the personalities, we're not such great musicians, it's just that the combination of the three of us together has this unique blend. It's just instantly recognizable. We hadn't heard it ourselves for a long time, and as soon as we played, you think, 'God, that's it. That's exactly what it used to be.' Of course with all the new technology and the fantastic new sounds, some of the older things, like "Pictures At An Exhibition" and "Tarkus" really sound remarkable. There's an excitement about playing the past stuff; it's not just a sort of new album and visit down memory lane. There's a whole new reason for being here.

R: You're absolutely right - I'm glad you brought that up, because just to really put the icing on an Emerson, Lake and Palmer cake, I was just thrilled that Atlantic Records (that put out all of those original Emerson, Lake and Palmer albums throughout the '70s), they've gone back in the archives. You mentioned that with the technology now, they've gone back and digitally cleaned up the former master tracks of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. That's gonna be in the record stores as a double CD, I guess, in about a week?

GL: Yeah, well, I think what's nice about that is that anyone who comes to the show and sees the band and has heard about ELP, and wonders what it's all about…I mean, if they like the music and what they see and what they hear, they can go and get that one record and have a good cross-section of all of the best of the work we've done over the last two decades. So there I think that's a nice record, from that point of view.

R: No question about it! One of the songs that would have to be included on any retrospective of Emerson, Lake and Palmer would have to be the song, "Lucky Man," and one of my favorite stories in rock and roll, you told me before on our program "In the Studio," which was heard all over North America. Take me back just for a moment to the writing and, if you will, pre-production, for the first Emerson, Lake and Palmer album that led up to getting "Lucky Man" on that first ELP album. At what point were you…

GL: We'd reached the point in the record where we were almost finished. In those days on vinyl you had 21 minutes a side, and it's pretty exacting, you have to have it. We'd reached the end of the record and we were short of one song. As everybody is looking around at each other in the studio and saying 'Has anybody got any ideas?' Nobody did, and I said, 'Look, I've got this one piece of music that I wrote when I was twelve years old, but it's just a folk song, and you can hear it.' So I played it and there were some grim looks, you know? 'Ah, that would never work, it's an acoustic guitar piece,' on a record which was of course, largely keyboard. Anyway, we thought we would, you know, desperate times, we would do it. So Carl and I went into the studio, and we recorded it on acoustic guitar and drums - just acoustic guitar and drums, and it sounded pretty dreadful! Then I put a bass on it and 'healed' it a little…

R: <chuckles>

GL: Then I put vocal harmonies and it improved it, and then of course, 'Fingers' went out and did this Moog solo. That of course was one of the definitive, probably 'the' definitive synthesizer solo, of all time. So the record got built up sort of accidentally.

R: And here's the take - Emerson, Lake and Palmer on Q102.

<"Lucky man" plays>

R: Oh yes…that of course is Emerson, Lake and Palmer, featuring Greg Lake on vocal, a song that he wrote when you were, how old? Tw…

GL: Well…twelve years old, was when it…

R: Amazing!

GL: …when it "fell out."

R: Just amazing! Now Greg, the new album, Black Moon, has some ten tracks on it, but there's one in particular that I understand you'd like to play for us, on Q102 live. Tell us, I know folks can't see this guitar, but do your best to describe this gorgeous acoustic guitar that you have.

GL: Well, it's a guitar that's just been made for me by the Gibson company; it's more or less a J-200, but it's made out of the most beautiful birds-eye maple, or quilted maple, I think they call it.

R: Just gorgeous!

GL: It's fantastic wood, isn't it?

R: Let's hear what it sounds like.

GL: Here we go; this is "Affairs of the Heart."

<GL sings and plays "Affairs of the Heart - click HERE to listen>

R: Oh! That was great - that was wonderful! Oh man, that sounded great!

GL: Thank you.

R: Between you and that guitar, you sound about THIS big!

GL: It's a nice sound, the J-200; <strums> a nice full, rich sound. <strums>

R: Oh, wonderful! You just heard Greg Lake, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer singing the song, "Affairs of the Heart," and that's on the new album, Black Moon.

GL: It's on the new album, yes. I was actually in Venice, at the time and in the Danielli Hotel, a beautiful hotel, and the Venetians are famous you know, for their crystal chandeliers…

R: Ah-ha…

GL: …And [there was] the most beautiful chandelier there, and I'd had a few glasses of wine…you know, like you do…and I looked across the room, and there was this very pretty girl, in this white dress, and she was being lit periodically by this chandelier, by these little lights on the chandelier…just a beautiful picture that I remembered, and I thought - Venice, being a romantic place, you know - that was "Affairs of the Heart."

R: Well, I tell you what, Greg Lake is singing for his supper and he's earning it, live on Q102. When we come back we'll play more songs from Black Moon, the Emerson, Lake and Palmer album and Greg, who has been kind of hinting about playing old songs as well as new songs - there must be a reason, and we'll find out why, next on Q102.

<commercial break>

R: We are KTXQ, Ft. Worth-Dallas, Q102, Texas' best rock-n-roll. I'm Redbeard, and it's my great pleasure to welcome Greg Lake, of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and his Perrier, <GL chuckles> and his Gibson guitar, which sounds like an orchestra in the hands of Greg Lake, live here in the Out of Control Room. When we sat in that big Lincoln Continental or whatever it was, listening to that cassette, it just, in L.A. back in January, before the release of the Black Moon album, one of the songs that you played for me on the tape stuck in my head for weeks afterwards. It was very simple, as Emerson, Lake & Palmer songs go, and maybe its simplicity was its effectiveness. Tell me about "Paper Blood."

GL: "Paper Blood" was um…I really got the idea from, just the title, when I was driving along in my car and stopped at this stoplight. On the right of me pulled up a chauffer-driven limousine with a dog sitting in the front, and this dog was being driven by the chauffer.

R: Wait a minute.

GL: Yeah! I mean it's absurd…

R: There weren't other people in there?

GL: No, no - just the dog and the chauffer, and that was it - I mean, obviously taking the dog to the park or something. That was one thing, but on the left of me was this poor chap trying to dig food out of the dustbin - you know, a tramp, trying to pull this food out of the bin.

R: Somebody homeless?

GL: And I thought to myself, when I looked at both of the things, I thought, that's ridiculous, that's just money, that is - the dog doesn't need to be driven, and the guy wants some food.

R: <laughing> Good point!

GL: <laughing> Right? And it just struck me that money is like blood, and money is also paper, so "Paper Blood" - you know, the concept that, that's the power of money, paper blood.

R: Boy, it's a powerful scenario, too - I mean, it's so vivid the way you describe it. I'm there, I'm at that stoplight.

GL: Yeah.

R: You're here, with Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and "Paper Blood," on Q102.

<"Paper Blood" plays>

R: Great stuff, from Emerson, Lake and Palmer - it's called, "Paper Blood," and Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer has joined us live in the Q102 Out of Control Room. I'm Redbeard. I'm just dying to hear you play another song with that gorgeous throat and that great guitar, so do us one that we'll remember from Emerson, Lake and Palmer of the past.

GL: A "golden oldie?"

R: Yeah!

GL: An oldie…um, okay, well - perhaps I'd like to play, let's think - "From the Beginning," how about "From the Beginning."

R: You've got a deal!

<GL sings and plays "From the Beginning" - click HERE to listen>

GL: Thank you very much, ladies! You've got some very pretty girls here at this radio station, I must say.

R: Oh, yeah…it's got nothing to do with you, of course!

GL: <laughs>

R: Do you think they're always there, Greg?

GL: Well they look as though they're pretty resident, here…

R: No, no, I think it's the command performance - Greg Lake, "From the Beginning." I know Max Morgan, Q102's deejay, who's doing mornings this week, is skipping a nap - it should be naptime for Max, she's filling in for Bo Roberts, but she's been talking about Greg Lake making this appearance for weeks, so we appreciate you singing that. Boy, that's originally from the Trilogy album, right?

GL: Yes, that's right.

R: Great album. We're listening and talking with Greg Lake, on Q102. Now, we should have a drumroll or something like this, but you were talking about songs from the…

<GL strums his guitar very loudly>

R: Yeah!! <laughs>

GL: Songs from the past…

R: Songs from the past, and of course all these great songs from Black Moon, in present tense, as if it's something that you're gonna grace us with?

GL: That's right, we have for the past two or three months, actually - once the record was finished - we started rehearsing, and we've put together a live performance. We're gonna go on tour, so…

R: Oh, that's great!

GL: We're playing something from all the albums - something from every album in the past, and of course, stuff off the Black Moon record.

R: Now, are you gonna be close about these parts, where folks in Dallas-Ft. Worth can hear that?

GL: I do believe we are, and I just have in front of me the information here. It says, "ELP in Concert, at the Starplex Amphitheatre, Thursday…"

R: Great!

GL: Is that a nice place to play?

R: Oh, it's wonderful - it's great!

GL: It's on Thursday, August the twentieth, special guest - Bonham - tickets on sale this Friday at the Rainbow Ticketmaster.

R: That is gonna be a thrill. It's amazing, John and I, your assistant, were talking about all the years of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Yet, I've got an intern, who's in college - who's at University, who is helping us out this summer here at Q102, and Eddie Alonzo (I know you're listening, Eddie) - he's like, 22 years old, 23 years old - and he's a huge Emerson, Lake & Palmer fan!

GL: Yes.

R: I think it's really amazing that - I know he's just thrilled, because he never expected to be able to see Keith Emerson (which is his hero, because Eddie's a keyboard player), Greg Lake and Carl Palmer together on one stage.

GL: Of all those bands of that particular era, I mean, Hendrix, The Floyd, The Who, it goes on forever - but very few of them, I suppose really, could say that they could perform in their original form. It is quite an unusual thing that - we do, we get a lot of letters from young people who maybe, their fathers or their mothers said, it's unbelievable, you should - then they write, then they get interested in it. Quite a few, and it's really nice, and we welcome them.

R: We will welcome you with open arms - it'll be the original Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Starplex Amphitheatre - Thursday, August 20th - supporting, opening the show will be Bonham. Tickets for Emerson, Lake & Palmer go on sale this Friday at Rainbow Ticketmaster outlets everywhere and there's gonna be a lot of very excited people. Are you gonna be doing some of the acoustic songs and everything?

GL: Yeah, a few of the acoustic songs, "Lucky Man" - we do a fantastic version of "Lucky Man," a whole new thing. In fact, also, "Pictures at an Exhibition," a rework. With all the new technology, you see, we're able to play these things in a totally different way, so as I said to you when we were off-air, it's not just a question of playing them, we are really revisiting them. It's like a totally fresh thing, so for us it's another experience.

R: That's great. There's nothing in this world that's absolutely, 100% perfection, so I know that you have at least one trepidation about going out on tour with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer - will Keith still be hurting himself, falling into audiences, falling into pits and holes and things…?

GL: You never quite know from one night to the next what happens!

<both laugh>

GL: And I have seen some bloody awful things take place! But one just hopes that he'll survive it all at the end of the day! We do have a few surprises lined up and we've been checking them out back in London, so…I hope you'll come along and enjoy the show.

R: <chuckling> We'll be there and we'll bring bandages for Keith, OK!

GL: Yes, bandages, and splints…

<"Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression, Part 2" plays>