Keith Emerson's girlfriend says he was a 'perfectionist' and 'sensitive soul'

'He was tormented with worry that he wouldn't be good enough'

The girlfriend of Keith Emerson, the prog-rock star who died last week after an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, has said he had started to doubt his abilities as a musician prior to his death. 

The body of the 71-year-old co-founder of British band Emerson, Lake & Palmer was found at his apartment in Santa Monica by his long-time partner Mari Kawaguchi on Thursday.

According to Sergeant Erika Aklufi of Santa Monica police, Emerson suffered an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and the death is “being investigated as a suicide”.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Kawaguchi, 52, said the “sensitive soul” had been “tormented with worry that he wouldn’t be good enough” for concerts scheduled for this coming week in Japan.

“He read all the criticism online and was a sensitive soul. Last year he played concerts and people posted mean comments such as, 'I wish he would stop playing'.

“He was tormented with worry that he wouldn't be good enough. He was planning to retire after Japan. 

“He didn't want to let down his fans. He was a perfectionist and the thought he wouldn't play perfectly made him depressed, nervous and anxious.”

The prog rock star was considered one of the most successful musicians of his era and one of the best keyboard players of a generation.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer formed in Croydon in 1970 and fast became one of the most popular bands of the seventies - recording six platinum-selling albums.

Kawaguchi also recounted finding Emerson dead at their home in Santa Monica.

“Keith wasn't feeling well on Thursday night. He had bronchitis so I tucked him up in bed,” said Kawaguchi.

“He was sleeping when I left and I thought he was sleeping when I got back, but then I realised what had happened. He was gone. I am still in total shock”.