Keith Emerson: I was jealous of Jon Lord
Emerson mentioned Rick Wakeman at the beginning of this piece. What about his other keyboard contemporary/rival of the 1970s, the late, great Jon Lord?
Keith grins: “In the early years I remember being quite jealous of Jon Lord – may he rest in peace. In September 1969 I heard he was debuting his Concerto For Group & Ocrhestra at the Royal Albert Hall, with none other than Michael Arnold conducting. Wow! I had to go along and see that. Jon and I ribbed each other, we were pretty much pals, but I walked away and thought: ‘Shit, in a couple of weeks’ time I’m going to be recording The Nice’s Five Bridges Suite… not at the Albert Hall but at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon!’ A much more prosaic venue. Later, Jon wanted me to play on his solo album, Gemini Suite, but that was around the time ELP were breaking big and we were touring. He was a lovely guy, a real gentleman.”
How would Emerson himself like to be remembered? Presumably as the feral prog showman who chucked knives into his keyboards with ELP?
“No,” he laughs, “as a decomposing composer!”
* This interview first appeared in Prog magazine.