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Carl Palmer salutes late bandmate Keith Emerson with new show
Last year Carl Palmer was talking to keyboardist Keith Emerson -- his bandmate in the venerable Emerson, Lake & Palmer -- about joining him for some shows with his ELP Legacy band this summer.
And Emerson is indeed with Palmer right now -- sadly, in spirit only.
Emerson's suicide on March 11 in California led the percussionist to rechristen his tour Remember Keith: The Music of Emerson Lake & Palmer. Palmer is incorporating photos and video along with a concert filled with ELP music, the centerpiece of which is the trio's adaptation of Mussorgsky's "Pictures At An Exhibition," which it released as a live album in 1971.
"There hasn't been quite a lot of time to organize it all, but we've managed to do quite a lot and it looks pretty good," Palmer -- who joined ELP after playing in Atomic Rooster and then helped form Asia during the early 80s -- says by phone from New Jersey. "Keith was the greatest keyboard player I've ever played with. Something has to be done and this is the time we had to do it, but I think we've done pretty well, so it'll be good."
Palmer, 66, spoke at Emerson's funeral in England and remains in close touch with his family -- though he says he and Greg Lake remain distant after Palmer decided not to continue with ELP after the group's last show in 2010. He has plenty of other tributes to Emerson in the works, including a special show on June 24 in Miami with guest musicians, a children's choir and a dance company interpreting some of the music.
Lake has also created a portrait of Emerson that he will be selling via his carlpalmerart.com web site, and he's released an ELP Legacy album featuring some of the group's classic as well as an interpretation of Leonard Bernstein's "America," which Emerson performed with his pre-ELP band The Nice. Palmer is also organizing a tribute concert for March 11 in England that will include more guests -- including, he hopes, Lake as well as Emerson's son Aaron, who's also a pianist.
Beyond being a way to honor his bandmate, Palmer says all of these projects are his own way to mourn after Emerson's shocking death.
"I just wanted to bury my head in 'What can I do for him? How can we present this in the nicest way possible?'" Palmer explains. "We've managed to pull together as much as possible -- and quite a lot, really.
"So I'm kind of mourning him in this way, yeah. I wanted to do things rather than sit back and worry about something which I couldn't possibly change because I didn't have any inclination that anything like this was in the cards. It's the best I can do at the moment."
Carl Palmer's ELP Legacy
Sunday, June 12. Doors open at 8 p.m.
The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.
Tickets are $35.
Call 248-544-3030 or visit themagicbag.com.
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