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Rock & Pop Superstar, May 1979

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Article Source:

Rock & Pop Superstar

May 1979


Ricardo Messina

Translated by:

Iasmin Martins



Lake & Emerson


The Nice

Article pages in the original Spanish:

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

One of the mysteries of nature that science still cannot explain completely is the dinosaurs' disappearance. Why were these great prehistoric monsters' (whose power seemed to have no limits) overpowering and disturbing force extinguished? One of the explanations is that they increased their size a lot and they could not sustain it. A curious fact is that we could establish more than just a coincidence between the previous comment and the English group that was the fundamental stone of the "teeno-rock" or what you want it to be called. Ladies and Gentlemen, here we have:


There is no smoke without fire

Keith Emerson was born November 2nd, 1944, in Todmorden, and he was surrounded by a musical atmosphere since he was a child: his mother was piano teacher and his father played some instruments, and so, since he was 7 Keith was familiarized with the keyboards. Even though those first musical steps have belonged to the classic style, when entering adolescence he adopted jazz as an element of his entertainment, since he saw in it a way to rebelliousness, and ever since, according to him, he has been rebelling against any established musical rule. However, when finishing school he didn't have other solution but to go to work, even if in his free time he used to play with a group of rock and jazz lovers. His attention was more and more concentrated on magazines about music than on the accounts of the bank, so then they dismissed him. That was the push that made Keith decide to be completely devoted to music.

It was the time that Rhythm and Blues had a larger audience (about 1966) and the young Emerson's first trip in a band more or less official was with the T-Bones, but the first steps for the public's recognition were given when the guitarist David O'List asked Keith to join him, with Lee Jackson (bass player, who had also played with Emerson in T-Bones) and Ian Hage, drums, who would be replaced by Brian Davidson, to follow with the American singer Pat Arnold, during her tour in the United Kingdom. The band was formed just as a supporting band, but as soon as it became star, it started being called simply "The Nice", and immediately they signed a contract with Inmediate of Andrews Loo Oldham. Everything seemed to go well, but when they played at the Windsor Festival there were only three friends there, David's sister and the band's "guides". Without being disappointed by that ironic destiny, they set off a bomb of smoke out of the stage, and people around didn't have any choice than not to enter to see what was happening. In Show Business, as well as in love and war, everything is lawful.

The spectators were not sorry. The show had been really overpowering: Pat singing and dancing, Keith whipping his organ and taking incredible sounds from it and the other musicians giving them support with a very solid rhythmic base. From there on the audience was increasing, with David on vocals when Pat returned to the United States. The tour had begun and Keith called "The Jimi Hendrix of the Organ", him being a great fan of Emerson. Instead of looking for a new guitarist, Keith convinced the others member of the group that the trio "organ-bass-drums" supplied the guitars perfectly. And there they'd gone: The Nice became in the end of '69 one of the most powerful groups with works as "Nice", "Five Bridges", etc., but when everything seemed to be on the top of the hill, Keith decided to break up the band in the beginning of '70. Many hadn't understood that this dissolution was a logical step for a more promising future. That future would come from an acquaintance guitarist and vocalist's hand: Greg Lake.

The Lake and the Palmer

Greg Lake was born November 10th, 1947, in Bournemouth and his mother was also a great support in music (she was a pianist), buying him a second-hand guitar and paying for some guitar classes. When Greg finished school he used to occupy his free time playing with local bands, joining The Gods, acquiring, however, an experience and ability that allowed him to play so much guitar and bass. When Robert Fripp offered him the bass player position in King Crimson, Lake accepted and he adapted to the band without difficulties. They recorded two LPs, the first that, in that time, and still today, are considered masterpieces: "In the Court of the Crimson King" and "In the Wake Of Poseidon".

During a show in Filmore West, King Crimson played with The Nice and during the rehearsals Keith contacted Greg, since both had interest in the idea of a new band that could be at the level of the always active Emerson. In March of '70, Keith broke up with The Nice among sour disputes, and meanwhile he hurried to look for a drum player competent enough to follow their talents. They'd tried many different musicians, but only one satisfied the demands they want: Carl Palmer.

Carl Palmer was born in Birmingham March 20th, 1950, and he had begun playing drums by an unusual way: when he was a child he asked for a drum, attracted by the brilliant red color and not because he really liked it, and after playing during Christmas, he left it. After that, following his father's example he used it again, at this time following a jazz album, surprising all around. His progress was fast and when he was 12 he played for the first time in public. When he was 16, he joined the band The Thunderbirds and going to Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. When Emerson and Lake asked him to join them, he was in Atomic Rooster and he was not very convinced, since in Rooster he'd done very well and he would have to begin again with a recently-formed band. Finally, after thinking some days about the subject, he accepted the invitation, most part of it because of Emerson's insistence. They were all ready for the take-off of the supergroup.

Properly Said

The first live show of the band was in August 23rd, 1970, in Plymouth Guild Hall even though, actually, it had been a preparation to the official beginning of the group at the Isle of Wight Festival. Since its beginning its music was a incredible gig, celebrating their first show in the Festival with cannons and Emerson presenting his new moog synthesizer unfolding to the plot an entire series of acrobatics, stabbing the organs and other violent demonstrations. Not all critics liked this kind of music. Famous English DJ John Peel said: "A waste of talent and electricity". In every way, the public recognized the new giant divided in three (and multiplied by three) and that indicated that the market was prepared for the release of their first LP. Called simply "Emerson Lake and Palmer" and presenting a dove with the wings opened was a clear demonstration of the potential of the group with "The Barbarian" hardness, the delicate chords of Lake in "Take A Pebble" and "Lucky Man" and Emerson's and Palmer's wonderful performance in "The Three Fates" and "Tank" respectively. The album placed the band among the biggest hopes of English music of the new decade.

The second album, "Tarkus", recorded in 1971, confirmed to the group this position, channeling an explosion of energy and being certified Gold. In the same year a live album was recorded with an adaptation of the work of Mussorgsky's, "Pictures at an Exhibition" in that Emerson liberated all his idiosyncrasies on his keyboards. A change of style was evidently necessary and although "Trilogy" in 1972 was something far away from the classic roots, it could not be equalled to their success on the preceding albums, even when it went Gold in the USA, and although the song "From The Beginning" made them more accessible to a wider public. The band began expanding and their live performances were enlarging more and more, including a portable stage and rotating drums. Among their projects there was also the creation of their own label: Manticore, inaugurated with their next album: "Brain Salad Surgery" in 1973. The Italian groups Banco and Premiata Forneria Marconi; King Crimson composer, Peter Sinfield; Stray Dog, etc., contracted with Manticore. "Brain" stayed in the top of the charts and was one of the most ambitious works of the group with the conceptual subject "Karn Evil 9" occupying 3/4 of the record and commenting on the decay of man and the triumph of computers in the future. "Jerusalem " brought an English bucolic melody with a mystic arrangement that reminded us to the time of the Crusades. Soon after, the group made a world tour in which a live triple album, "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends" was recorded (1974).

The group was at the top of its career and received all the votes in the English weekly columns like Melody Maker and New Musical Express for a long time. From this moment, the group began an inactivity period during which they recorded just two singles: "Honky Tonk Train Blues" and a project of Lake called: "I Believe In Father Christmas". In the middle of 1977, the group returned with "Works Vol. I", a work almost as precious as its title, in which each member of the band had his own side of the album and the last side was based on compositions of the whole group. In the beginning of 1978 "Works Vol.II " brought the group without new and attractive ideas. For the live performance of the two volumes of "Works", the band hired an orchestra of 70 musicians, that, after ten days the tour had begun, had to be abandoned due to economical and organizatial problems. It was evident that, even though they were still appreciated, the return of the band had not been as expected. They would have to leave the classic and the ambitious.

They took vacations and moved from their origin, England. They'd gone to the sun. Emerson and Lake bought houses in Nassau, Bahamas, south of the Florida coast, USA. Carl Palmer had just received the black belt in karate and he bought a house in the Canary Islands.

Keith called his yacht "Fingers" and with his wife, he dedicated to reading, fishing and to study classic piano. The "consequence album" of the new life, "Love Beach", was not well received by the critics. Because of the compositions of Lake and Sinfield, they were accused of changing in favor of total accessibility. Far away are the times of furious rock as "Nutrocker", and the treatment of the classics "a la ELP" has been surpassed for the musicians' intentions such as Tomita. According to the opinions of the experts, they called ELP as having already fulfilled their cycle, opening the way for many other bands. But even if now they seem to be far away from their superstars role, they left memorable works as few groups have ever done.

Discography of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

EMERSON LAKE & PALMER - Island/Atlantic MH (A)
TARKUS - Island/Atlantic MH (A)
TRILOGY - Island/Atlantic MH (A)
BRAIN SALAD SURGERY - Manticore/Atlantic MH (A)
WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS (Ladies and Gentlemen: Emerson Lake & Palmer) - Manticore/Atlantic (A) (3 LPs)
WORKS VOL. I - Atlantic MH (A)
WORKS VOL. II - Atlantic MH (A)
LOVE BEACH - Atlantic MH (A)

Discography of The Nice

THE THOUGHTS OF EMERLIST DAVJACK (composed name for the last names of the group: Keith Emerson, keyboards; Brian "Blinky" Davison, percussion; Lee Jackson, bass, vocals; David O'List, guitar, vocal) - Inmmediate
NICE - Immediate/MH (A)
ELEGY - Charisma
Summary: Attention: KEITH EMERSON AND THE NICE - Fontana/Philips (A)

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