Bassist Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer (ELP) admitted he wasn’t shocked by the recent suicide of his former partner, 71-year-old keyboard virtuoso Keith Emerson. The Guardian reported: “An autopsy by the Los Angeles coroner confirmed that Emerson shot himself. Ed Winter, a spokesman for the coroner, said that there were also signs the musician was suffering from a heart condition. ” Emerson’s girlfriend Mari Kawaguchi revealed to The Daily Mail that the musician killed himself on March 10th in fear of letting fans down on an upcoming tour of Japan, due to his diminished capabilities from nerve damage.
Greg Lake spoke candidly about the loss of his friend and bandmate, admitting to The Express, “I have to be honest and say that his death didn’t come as a shock to me. The situation with Keith didn’t happen suddenly, it had been developing from as far back as the Works Vol. 1 album (in 1977). At that point, I began to see things happening with Keith which didn’t look or feel right.”
- Lake explained that although he tried to help Emerson, he became “impossible to work with,” adding, “When you’re close you always hope tomorrow will be better. . . I think it’s a very difficult thing to actually describe what depression is. He loved music — that was his main purpose in life. . . We all know what it looks like, people’s moods become very black. But it’s more complicated than that. It changes someone’s personality. Also, Keith got into substance abuse, which made it worse and the whole thing just spiraled.”
- Lake went on to reveal, “He lived, in the end, this very lonely existence of someone who was deeply troubled, He loved music — that was his main purpose in life. But the music he made after ELP never bore fruit in the same way as it did in the early days.”
- The bassist added that in recent reunions, he was always trying to recapture the inspiration that led to ELP’s best work: “I was always searching for those early days, I was always looking for that spark of effervescence that we had during the making of all those great records.”
- He shed light on Emerson’s physical problems due to nerve damage: “Part of Keith’s problem was that, especially in later years, he’d begun to develop a degenerative disease that affected his hands. He lost control of some of his fingers. I’m sure it was a component. But I have to say to you that a lot of people are given bad news like that and you don’t take your life because of it. I’m not a doctor but I saw someone who became increasingly confused, desperate and depressed. It happens to people.”
- Greg Lake urged people suffering with depression to seek immediate help: “All I would say is that if anyone does have feelings like that, of being so desperate that they think it’s better off not to wake up tomorrow, then please, go and talk to somebody — the doctor, your friend, anybody.”