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Q Magazine, July 2005
Mark Blake, Editor-in-Chief
What do you think of Brain Salad Surgery now?
I like it. The music, especially the Karn Evil 9 stuff, stands the test of time. In a way, though, it marked the beginning of the end for me. Keith [Emerson] could never hack my acoustic direction, so he prevented my song Still You Turn Me On from coming out as a single, despite the record company being convinced it was a hit.
John Peel once said that merging classical music with rock was like "trying to graft a tomato onto the back of a hairbrush". Any thoughts?
John didn't like ELP and, in some ways, I could sympathise with him because I didn't like our pretentious side either, but I still think it's valid to perform classical music in a rock framework. Number one, it enables people to access classical music who might not otherwise hear it and, number two, electronic sounds are different from symphonic sounds. You get a whole new blend of musical colours, so it's a bona fide reinterpretation.
How close had ELP come to splitting before Brain Salad Surgery?
We had musical disagreements all the way through. I don't think any band worth its salt is always in agreement.
Rumour has it that when you were in King Crimson you helped Robert Fripp with his courting manoeuvres...
No, that's not right. When we formed King Crimson, Robert was from another world - an academic world - and I would give him advice about stage clothes and image, because I'd been in a band for years.
Were there many women at ELP shows?
Our audience was predominantly male, but there were still females. Actually, there's a website about me created by a group of girls who call themselves The Ladies Of The Lake.
What's next then?
In June I'm doing a seminar-workshop about classical adaptations, at the Franz Liszt University in Weimar, the home of Bach and Liszt. Then I'm into rehearsals for my European tour, with about 20 UK shows in September.