Greg Lake Interview on the Robert Klein Radio Show, 1981
Robert Klein: Welcome, my first guest, shall I say - well, I won't say "formerly," he's here with an album of his own. Will you welcome Greg Lake! <wild applause & whistles>
Welcome, Greg. You have a lot of friends here, and evidently, family as well.
Greg Lake: They've all been taken care of <chuckle>.
RK: What a great voice you have there! Listen to that deep voice. You can sing pretty high, though, too.
RK: Very fine rock and roll singer, really.
GL: Thank you very much.
RK: I think I agree with you, that's your instrument. You were quoted once as saying that, even though I know you play the bass and guitar. Let me hold Greg's album up to the microphone as we always do here. How did you come up with that title, though, I mean, it's kind of way-out? The title of the album is "Greg Lake." <Greg chuckles, audience laughs> What was the thought behind that?
GL: It's a very imaginative title, you know.
RK: Yeah, in a way it's unpretentious, yet pithy. And as soon as I find out what pithy means, I'll find out.
GL: Yeah <chuckle>
RK: I imagine there was talk of perhaps, a title like, "Off On My Own," or "New Ventures," or ...
GL: "New Horizons..."
RK: "New Horizons," or "Screw You Guys," or...<audience laughter> <Greg chuckles> but you came up with "Greg Lake." Now, you're not prepared to say that Emerson Lake, & Palmer is defunct?
GL: Yeah, I am.
RK: You are?
RK: Ladies and gentlemen, he's prepared to say that.
GL: He is prepared to say that.
RK: You don't think that, you've come as far as you'd like to come together?
GL: Yeah, I think so, I think we had a really good run for our money there.
RK: Sure did. And we all got a good run for it, with the music <applause>. At one point, you took off three years, so couldn't it be another three or four year hiatus, and then expect some more records?
GL: Well, I didn't really take the time off; I was recording all that time. And this album here, the one with the imaginative title...
RK: The title is "Greg Lake" <audience chuckles>
GL: ...is a collection of some of the songs I made over that time. I did all kinds of things; I wrote one song with Bob Dylan.
RK: Yes, "Love You Too Much."
<"Love You Too Much" plays>
RK: Tell us how you met Emerson and Palmer, and then we'll get on to the album that you brought yourself, which is, still can't get over it, called "Greg Lake." <audience laughter>...Or "Greg Lah-kay" <laughter>...no, "Greg Lake." How did you come into contact with Emerson and Palmer, which, I don't know how many of you thought this, but I believed for a long time was the name of one man, "Emerson Lincoln Palmer." <audience laughs> 'Cause people couldn't speak properly on the radio. <to Greg> Go ahead.
GL: Yes used to call us "Henderson, Snake and Charmer." <RK laughs> That was their pet "hate name" for us.
RK: Hey, wait a minute, there's a piece of gossip in that. Wow!
GL: There must be, somewhere.
RK: Yes said that? Why?
GL: I don't know.
RK: Just jealous.
GL: Must be.
<inaudible audience remark>
RK: Say no to Yes, call them "Maybe."
GL: We met at the Fillmore West in San Francisco; Keith and I were on the same bill. I was in King Crimson and Keith was in a band called The Nice. <audience applause> We were both at that time finishing up with those respective bands, and we almost formed a band with Jimi Hendrix at the time. But he, sadly, died and it never came to anything so, we then met Carl Palmer, and that was the formation of ELP.
RK: So now here you are in the...
GL: <to audience> What are you laughing about?
RK: Here you are in stage three.
<more audience laughter>
GL: Stage three, yes.
RK: Do you like classical music?
GL: Oh yes, but not all of it, I mean, some of it.
GL: I find that I like something of everything.
RK: <unintelligible> Aaron Copland; oh really?
GL: I do particularly like Aaron Copland.
RK: Oh yes, me too.
GL: We did an adaptation of one of his pieces, once...
RK: You did a couple, I think - The Common Man one and Hoedown was one.
GL: That's right, you're better informed than I am.
<Fanfare for the Common Man plays>
RK: You had an interesting attitude about that, you know Fripp was once on this show, and I didn't understand what he was saying, he's too smart.
RK: I was sitting between Fripp and Bob Geldof...
GL: Oh my god! <laughter>
RK: ...of the Boomtown Rats. That was one of our most interesting shows, and it was the one that came closest to having the public storm the studio.
RK: You joined King Crimson, rather almost as a second thought as a favor to him or something, that's the way it indicated in things that I've heard.
GL: No, the original band King Crimson, which is the one with the big face on the cover, was just together for a very short time. It was a band full of madmen, really. It was an arrangement more than a group, you know. It just didn't last very long.
RK: Fripp has kind of whipped it back to life, hasn't he?
GL: I believe so.
RK: Are you in contact with him at all?
RK: He owes me seventy-five cents.
GL: <boisterous laughter>
RK: The cupcake machine outside the hall...
GL: You'll never get it! <laughs again>
RK: I won't?
RK: He had a rather nice jumper on, as I recall; that's English for "sweater." You have to translate for people from another land.
RK: He had a rather nice jumper that was knitted for him.
GL: By his mother?
RK: Um...by himself, actually.
RK: No, no - perhaps by his mother. Is that where the connection began?
GL: I haven't got a mother.
RK: You have a godmother?
GL: I haven't got a mother...nobody cares about me.
RK: Oh, I'm sorry.
RK: Come on, we care about him! Who wants to be his mother?
<voices from audience> <female voice: "I will.">
RK: Well, he'd like a "mother" about 21, 22...
RK: We'll be back with more from Greg Lake, right after this word. <applause>
RK: Hey, we're back, and Merry Christmas, everyone - Happy Holidays to everyone. <applause> Nice time of year. <sings> "Sleighbells ring, are you listening..." Where are you from, New Jersey?
GL: <chuckles> <in New Joisey accent> "Thoity thoid and foist." <laughter>
RK: You are from England, of course.
GL: Yes, but I go to Vincent's Clam Bar.
RK: Where in England are you from?
GL: Dorset - it's about 100 miles west of London in the countryside. I live on a farm.
RK: You lived on a farm as a kid?
GL: No, I live on a farm now.
RK: Oh...but I mean, is that where you were brought up?
RK: Was your Dad a farmer?
RK: What did he do?
GL: He was a criminal...<chuckle>
RK: Mine, too! Really?
GL: No, he was an engineer. I think!
RK: That's what he told you. <in British accent> "I'm going off to work now - if anyone asks, I'm an engineer!" <much laughter> "All right, grab that gun, Louie - let's go!" <in little boy voice> "My dad's an engineer." A criminal engineer!
<chuckles all around>
RK: A friend of mine's father was a bookmaker.
GL: Is he?
RK: He used to tell people (it's always been highly illegal in the states, you know) and he always told his friends his father was...
GL: Why is that? I could never quite understand...
RK: Gambling? You approve? What are you, an animal??
GL: In England they have betting shops where you can go in there and gamble on the horses.
RK: We have them here, too, mate, on TV.
GL: It's on the street you're not allowed to do it, is that right?
RK: That's right, although it's seldom done, people never gamble in America! As far as I know - I've never seen anyone! But this guy's father was a bookie, and he used to tell people he was a librarian. <laughter> Which was close...he was a librarian-ie! Perhaps it was "press fodder" but there is always this "classical" name which was attached to the Emerson Lake & Palmer <bungles pronunciation badly> group.
GL: That well-known group of accountants. We did the "Pictures At An Exhibition" thing by Mussorgsky, which I suppose we were best known for. <sporadic applause>
RK: Well Mussorgsky was pretty famous for it too, in his time.
GL: He was a good boy, our Mussorgsky.
RK: Yes, he could play a twelve string guitar like you've never heard.
GL: Loved him, he could knock it out.
RK: <singing in gravelly blues voice> "I'm goin' to Moscow...never going baaack..." People don't know that special series of Mussorgsky...
GL: Do you know they wouldn't let us play in Russia? I don't know why.
GL: We said, look, you know, Mussorgsky as you may or may not know, is Russian. And we said, it would be a nice idea, as a tribute to him, to do a concert in Moscow. They hemmed and they hawed, and they sent different people to see us, you know? Strange Russian gentlemen, and they kept telling us that they were "deferring this decision until later." They kept referring back to a man called the Minister of Cultural Affairs - he was a marvelous man, but they never let us in there. They never let us go there.
RK: Well they're blaming the Swedes for having rocks on their coasts, there - the submarines!
GL: <laughs> That's right, they are!
RK: <in Russian accent> You had these rocks, and we get out there and clear the water, and we won't wash up on the shore! Get rid of these rocks!
GL: <chuckling> That's right!
RK: I don't know - you say, you don't know why. Don't you, really? They fear it.
GL: I think that's right. But you know we were never a politically or drug orientated type of band...
RK: Really? Will you please leave the show! We usually police our guests.
GL: I can't think of any reason why they should have been afraid of us.
RK: You English people, and Europeans, really amaze me sometimes. They're evil! They're Russian! Commie! They're afraid!
GL: <laughs> We live very close to them over there.
RK: Yes, I know...you do have a point there. Which reminds me of the opening tune on Greg's album - it's called "Nuclear Attack," isn't it? <audience laughs> I'm not kidding, am I?
GL: No, this is quite true.
<"Nuclear Attack" plays>
GL: "You'll never come back from a nuclear attack," is the line.
RK: I think that's a very, very true saying.
GL: It is.
RK: Unless maybe if you have some peroxide and Band-Aids at home...and possibly if you live in an apartment building, where there is a good lobby you can sit and hold hands in it and sing. Did you want to be a rock and roll star when you were a kid? Had it ever even remotely occurred to you?
GL: I don't know, I remember...I started playing the guitar at 12 years old. It occurred to me how fantastic it was when all the girls started screaming at the boys club where I used to play, and I realized how wonderful a thing it was, this guitar, you know? <audience laughter>
RK: In other words, it was a means towards sex!
GL: It was wonderful because when you're, as we all have been, 15 or 16, it was just a time when you're in need of that adoration and everything, and it was great.
<"Let Me Love You Once Before You Go" plays>
RK: When you're not recording, I've read somewhere that you think touring is, can be a pretty invigorating experience. You've said that the worst it can be is tedious. That's not bad.
GL: Did I say that? I don't know. I love touring. You see, records are not the end product...
RK: They're round.
GL: They are round, indeed, but they are a promise of something to come. I think that the live appearance is the final thing to deliver, you know? I think it's more gratifying than in the studio. If you make a record in the studio, and you come back into the control room and you listen to it, it's a bit of a lonely experience. But when you go out and you play it in a concert and you get reaction from it, that's really the payoff.
RK: Feedback. <clanking sound>
GL: Don't break the furniture!
RK: Don't drop the Miller, but you'll notice the bottle is not broken, ladies and gentlemen! Even the bottle is superior, the Miller! There's a fellow taking a picture; he's one of the finest paparazzi in New York. He has a collection of pictures - he was told to keep 75 feet away from all other photographers by a court. I don't know why, it was a very peculiar law.
GL: It's a big camera, man.
RK: Yeah, and it's got a long lens on it. You folks at home listening on the radio really must be curious about it. Keep your eye on the pike, jingle bells! Do that Christmas shopping early, you know what I mean? You have Christmas in England? <in British drawl> Ho, Ho, Ho - it's Father Christmas, isn't it?
GL: <laughs> He comes down the chimney, yes...
RK: He does?
GL: Sure he does.
RK: I love the Christmas Carol.
GL: I love the whole thing about it, I'm a Christmas fanatic. I get the tree, you know...
RK: In July, too!
GL: <laughs> I really do go for it.
RK: Do you have Christmas with the family at home...
RK: ...have a goose...<in small voice> "Father, it's the finest goose I've ever seen." <gruff> "Tiny, get away from the table!" Throw it over, the kid is annoying! Tiny Tim should be smacked occasionally, I think, to keep him within the realm of decency. He's overly cute, there. Listen, I want you to stay for a few minutes, because not only do we have the "teenage pimple expert..." no...you know those advice shows?
RK: We prefer not to do that but we have Lucy Simon coming in, some great cuts on that record, too. And some more cuts from "Greg Lake" - that's no more Emerson and Palmer. <sighs from audience> We'll be right back after this word from one of our sponsors, Miller. <applause>