Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 5:00 PM
Subject: comments from within
I have been receiving your newsletter for a number of years and commend you on your devotion and professionalism. I am writing in regard to the recent flurry of E-mails that have been referred to as "Greg bashing". My purpose is to possibly shed a little light on all parties concerned (including the "bashers").
My name is Carl Kennedy and I was fortunate to have worked closely with ELP nearly seven days a week for over a year during the creation of "Return of The Manticore". I know Keith, Carl and Greg very well and can speak to numerous points which relate to your readers concerns.
First of all what is happening here is common to the computer age and I call it murder by memo (or E-mail). It is human nature to be a bit over the top with E-mails due to their anonymous nature. We all get passionate about music or we would not be reading this newsletter in the first place. This being said, I take some of the posted opinions with a grain of salt as I do not believe that these guys really mean any harm. I am certain that they would phrase things a little differently in a face to face discussion.
As for Keith, Greg and Carl, it is tough for most people to put themselves in a star's shoes. Whether you are talking about a football star, movie star, rock star or whomever, they live in a different world. In the case of ELP they are on the backside of their careers which makes their world even more bizarre. Part of their life is star-like and part is that of a commoner. Frankly it can mess pretty badly with the head. The worst part may be that everyone they run into has a need to share their views on how the star can get back to the top of their game. Imagine if everyone you ran into was forcing their views on you as to how you could have a 32 inch waist again (like you did in high school). It sucks. You end up constantly being reminded of the fact that you are no longer the man you used to be.
Moving on, Carl, Greg and Keith (honestly) are very intelligent and complex individuals who still have a deep passion for music and they demand excellence of themselves. This creative energy is tough to manage whether you are young or old, beginning your career or fully retired. This particular group of guys have very, very high standards for themselves and do not pull any punches. They make mistakes like anyone else and when they do they are far harder on themselves than any outsider could ever be.
Lastly, ELP without Greg is like any other supergroup minus one-third of the original band. ELP, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and any other such band is more than the sum of it's parts. As badly as we want for ELP and bands like them to entertain us as they have in the past, they can only do it on their terms and in their time. I would say that we as ELP fans are lucky that they are all healthy and able to perform when they so choose. It may be best for us to offer our heartfelt support and cross our fingers. I can assure you that these three guys are all fully capable of taking any other musical entity out back and kick some musical and performing ass.
Am I the biggest ELP fan of all time? Certainly not. I enjoy much of what they have done over the years and enjoy them on a personal level very much. What I can promise you is that each of them is truly a hugely talented star and quality human being second to none, Greg included. When you are in Greg's presence, there is no denying that this man is the real deal. Vocally, musically and personally he is much bigger than life. I place each of the members of ELP in the same company as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and John Lennon yet there is one key difference. We are fortunate enough to have ELP alive.
I have some of my fondest music industry memories of these three fellows and am truly grateful for the experience. I too hope to see them onstage again as ELP and hope to see you all there when this happens.
[When I emailed Carl to thank him for his comments and ask if I could post them, he added this:]
Thank you for your E-mail. Of course you are welcome to feature my letter in regard to ELP. Given your interest, I will go just a tiny bit further for your consideration. While what I have written here may be somewhat redundant to my E-mail to the ELP digest, I feel that I should share the following.
Though I recently retired from music and relocated to South Florida, I had a great run as a Producer, Songwriter and Musician while in Los Angeles. I was there for about 13 years and the day that I arrived worked on both the movie Patriot Games (Paramount Pictures) and Lynch Mob-Lynch Mob (George Lynch of Dokken/solo effort). From that day forth good fortune and opportunity came my way continuously. I have been very very fortunate. During my time in the music industry I was able to work with many big stars and some of them were artists and actors that I had followed as a teen. After having worked with two or three such artists, I learned that they are all just human. Many are very flawed humans. Possibly the flaws drive them to be so gifted and entertaining. Inescapably, some experiences were not pleasant. The result of these experiences was learning what many entertainment professionals know and follow as a rule. "Do not work with your idols." Few if any can live up to the expectations we would place upon them. You stand a better chance of being disappointed than becoming fulfilled. The truth is that much of what we may enjoy about an artist is what they bring out in us rather than fully what the artist has actually intended or recorded.
That being said, I am happy to say that prior to my learning this lesson (again, "Do not work with your idols"), I was able to work with ELP and Greg in particular. I had been an avid fan of ELP when I was young and the day that they walked through the door I was excited at the prospect of meeting and working with them. We were together a lot over a full year's time. Pleasantly, I was completely fulfilled by the experience. I found all three to be both larger than life and completely human at the same time. These guys are worthy of star status. While I would say that buying their albums, CDs, DVDs and concert tickets feels as though it entitles us to voting rights in the virtual corporation of fandom, we need to chill out. I could get just as worked up as any other fan over the actions of an artist I follow but, I refrain. I do so because I do not know what is actually going on (behind the scenes) in their lives and careers, who may be guiding them or what they want for themselves at this point in their life. I refrain because despite the emotional investment that I have in the artists and their careers, it is still none of my business.