Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Greg Lake

As I have noted before, these "it was with great sadness that I read that xyz had died..." posts are becoming all too routine. Talking with brother Dave at his house on Christmas day, he mentioned something about Greg Lake dying, joining Keith Emerson's death earlier in the year, to which my reaction, unaware of this was, "whaaa??"
Greg Lake

Emerson Lake and Palmer was one of my favorite prog rock bands in the late 70's and early 80's (I was kinda young and got on the bus a little late). I loved that kind of music then, and still do now. Greg was a terrific singer, guitarist and bass player.

In addition to his work with ELP, I will also remember his short stint with Asia. When John Wetton left the band in 1983 (partway through the Asia in Asia documentary/concert film), Greg stepped in and took over the bass and vocal work on the (at that time rare) full length live concert broadcast on MTV (Asia live at the Budokan), joining ELP band mate Carl Palmer. He did a nice job with only 10 days to prepare (although you can see him reading a teleprompter for the lyrics).

A few morsels:
  • Lucky Man (1974) - Greg at his peak. It's also hilarious to watch him chewing gum all the way through the song. Anytime there is a second to spare, he takes a few chomps. Seems hard enough to play guitar and sing without worrying about choking on your gum, but hey...
  • Lucky Man in 2013 on the Moody Blues Cruise. Voices deepen with age, but not tremendously different...
  • Still You Turn Me On (1974) - Great song. This one has another thing I will always remember about Greg - the need to force a rhyme no matter how dumb. In this case, we get the best/worst of all time - "...sadder...madder...someone get me a ladder." Oh my...
  • Hoedown (1973) - More about Keith Emerson here, but ELP at their best.
  • Welcome Back my Friends (London 2010) - Still OK on their 40th anniversary reunion tour.
  • Welcome Back my Friends (Montreal 1977) - ELP at the peak. Faster and more frantic. And thinner... Greg on guitar this time instead of bass.
Greg Lake may not have been the household name that Prince or David Bowie or others who passed this year might have been, but his death makes me nostalgic, and his passing is far more personal to me. Another piece of childhood gone...

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