Greg Lake, who fronted both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, has died aged 69.
One of the founding fathers of progressive rock, the British musician will arguably be best remembered for the Christmas standard I Believe in Father Christmas, which in the “humble” opinion of the Record Press author is the best Xmas song of all time.
Greg Lake died on Wednesday after “a long and stubborn battle with cancer” nine months after his Emerson, Lake and Palmer band-mate Keith Emerson passed away. Greg Lake’s manager Stewart Young wrote on Facebook: “Yesterday, December 7th, I lost my best friend to a long and stubborn battle with cancer. Greg Lake will stay in my heart forever, as he has always been.”
Greg Lake who was born in Bournemouth, was given his first guitar at the age of twelve and took lessons from a local tutor called Don Strike. He went on to form a close friendship with fellow student Robert Fripp, with whom he formed King Crimson in 1969. Their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King featured such songs as 21st Century Schizoid Man. It set a standard for progressive rock and received a glowing, well-publicised testimonial from The Who’s Pete Townshend.
Sadly King Crimson were short-lived. Within a year, founding member Mike Giles quit and Greg Lake refused to work with the band. He stayed around long enough to sing on their critically reviled second album, In the Wake of Poseidon.
The singer and bassist was then approached by Keith Emerson, who had supported King Crimson on a North American tour and needed a singer for his new band which became Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Joined by Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer, Emerson, Lake and Palmer made their live debut at the Guildhall in Plymouth in 1970 before giving a career defining performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in the same year.
Characteristically Emerson, Lake and Palmer combined heavy rock riffs with a classical influence. They scored hit albums with Pictures at an Exhibition, Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery – many of them produced by Greg Lake himself. For many the seminal Emerson, Lake and Palmer album was Tarkus, released in 1971, featured an opening track inspired by the fictional Tarkus character ( a half-tank, half-armadillo creature that would appear on stage at gigs that lasted more than 20 minutes ). ELP sold more than 48 million records.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer went on to enjoy chart success with a in 1977 with their version of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, which reached No2 in the UK top 40.
ELP’s ambitious light shows and on-stage theatrics were the epitome of ’70s rock excess and their days were numbered. ELP’s reputation was irreparably damaged by the punk movement of the late 1970s that railed and rallied in particular against the pomposity and pretention of prog rock, and they finally broke up in 1979.
To non-prog fans, though, Greg Lake was best known as the architect of one of the UK’s most enduring Christmas hits, I Believe in Father Christmas, which reached No 2 in 1975. Greg Lake told the Guardian only last month in an article about Christmas songs to be published next week: “When Pete Sinfield and I wrote I Believe In Father Christmas, it was about how Christmas had deteriorated and was in danger of becoming yet another victim of crass corporate financial exploitation,” he said.
For the Record Press author I Believe In Father Christmas is unquestionably the best Xmas song of all time. It perfectly captures the essence of the magic and awe of Christmas as a child. Any other year than 1975 and it would have been a deserved Xmas No1, but sadly it came up against an immoveable object in the form of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
It is like no other festive song – Slade and Wizzard might win the accolades for nostalgia but I Believe In Father Christmas by Greg Lake oozes style and class. So much so, it appears atop the Christmas song tree in this Record Press TOP 15 Best Xmas Songs from the 1970s Golden Era of the Xmas Hit Single……. http://www.myfirstrecord.co.uk/recordpress/retro-music/top-15-christmas-songs-from-the-1970s-golden-era-of-the-xmas-hit-single/
You can get I Believe In Father Christmas by Greg Lake as a framed vinyl single. If intended as a Xmas gift, you can also personalise it with an inscribed / engraved plaque… ORDER NOW…. www.myfirstrecord.co.uk/
Framed vinyl records and framed CDs with a personalised plaque, make unique presents or original gifts for a special celebration / special occasion i.e. a Wedding ( Wedding First Dance Song ), an Engagement Party ( Our Song ), a House Warming Party ( New Home ), a 21st, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th Birthday ( How about the No1 song on the day of birth? ), a Silver, Ruby or Golden Wedding Anniversary, Father’s or Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day!! THE PERFECT PERSONALISED PRESENT!! ORDER HERE…….. www.myfirstrecord.co.uk/