Keith Emerson, Founding Member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Dies at 71

The keyboardist passed away at his Santa Monica, California, from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound

UPDATED at 5.24 p.m. PT: Police confirm that Keith Emerson’s death is being investigated as a suspected suicide.

“At about 1.15 a.m. [PT], officers were called to his home on the 400 Marine Ave block of Santa Monica, and his body was found with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,” Sgt. Camarena of the Santa Monica Police told TheWrap.


Keith Emerson, a founding member and keyboardist for Emerson, Lake and Palmer died Thursday night. He was 71.

“We regret to announce that Keith Emerson died last night at his home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, aged 71. We ask that the family’s privacy and grief be respected,” a message on the band’s official Facebook page read.

“Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come,” bandmate Carl Palmer said in a statement via Facebook Friday.

“He was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz. I will always remember his warm smile, good sense of humor, compelling showmanship, and dedication to his musical craft. I am very lucky to have known him and to have made the music we did, together. Rest in peace, Keith,” the drummer and percussionist continued.

Born in Todmorden, Yorkshire in England, Emerson learned classical western music as a child and went on to become one of the greatest keyboardists of his generation.

Emerson, Palmer and producer Greg Lake formed the progressive rock supergroup in 1970, and after a breakout performance at the Isle of Wight festival, the trio signed with Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun. The band released their landmark album “Brain Salad Surgery” in 1973, and Emerson served as co-writer on its most enduring track, “Karn Evil 9.”

Other notable ELP projects include “Works Volume 1” and “Volume 2,” “Love Beach,” “Black Moon” and “In the Hot Seat” in 1994.

Emerson also provided music for a number of film scores, including Dario Argento’s 1980 horror movie “Inferno,” the 1981 Sylvester Stallone thriller “Nighthawks,” Lucio Fulci’s “Murder Rock,” Michele Soavi’s horror “The Church” and “Godzilla: Final Wars” in 2004.

He is survived by sons Aaron Ole Emerson and Damon Keith Emerson by ex-wife, Elinor.

See video of Emerson, Lake and Palmer playing in Switzerland in 1970 below.