“I don’t care who I play to, as long as they enjoy listening to what I play.”
Keith Noel Emerson, born on November 2nd, 1944, is more than just a musician. Because his virtuosity and sheer musicality surpass the average musician by a wide margin. His influence over the young artists, and not just the keyboard players, is still very notable and can be seen clearly on the modern progressive rock scene.
He was born on this day, in West Yorkshire, England. The family was evacuated from the southern parts of England during World War II. His father was an amateur pianist while his mother wasn’t playing an instrument. He started taking piano lessons when he was eight and by the age of 15 or 16, he acquired his very own Hammond organ, an L-100 model, which he fell in love with after hearing the jazz organist Jack McDuff perform “Rock Candy”. From a young age, he was exposed to both classical and jazz pieces, which greatly affected his professional playing style.
About his childhood, Emerson later described: “I was a very serious child. I used to walk around with Beethoven sonatas under my arm. However, I was very good at avoiding being beaten up by the bullies. That was because I could also play Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard songs. So, they thought I was kind of cool and left me alone.”
Apart from his best-known work with Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, which he is a founding member of, he also played In many other bands (such as the Nice in the late 1960s), composed music for TV and films. He is also known for his adaptations of classical and jazz pieces into a rock format.
AllMusic describes Emerson as “perhaps the greatest, most technically accomplished keyboardist in rock history”. And we couldn’t agree more. Let us remember his legacy on this very important day, and thank him once again for his immeasurable contributions to music.