Keith Emerson dead: Prog rock legend's death 'being treated as suicide'

Bandmate Carl Palmer confirms musician passed away at his home in California

Caroline Mortimer,Lewis Smith
Friday 11 March 2016 21:44 GMT
Keith Emerson performs at Universal Amphitheatre in 2004
Keith Emerson performs at Universal Amphitheatre in 2004 (Getty)

Keith Emerson, the co-founder of British prog-rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, has died aged 71.

Long-term bandmate Carl Palmer confirmed the news saying Emerson had died at his home in Santa Monica, California.

Police told BBC News the death was being investigated as a suicide. The broadcaster said officers had confirmed earlier US media reports that Emerson had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

A statement on the band’s Facebook page read: “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.”

The keyboard player’s body was discovered at his home on Thursday by, it was reported, his girlfriend. He had been scheduled to travel to Japan on tour next week.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer formed in Croydon in 1970 and came to prominence after performing at the Isle of Wight festival later that year.

They rose to become one of the most popular bands of the seventies, and were voted in at number seven on Rolling Stone’s 2011 Reader Poll of the best prog-rock acts of all time.

Emerson was regarded as one of the best keyboard players of his generation. As well as success with the band, he also had a solo career and wrote the score for films such as 1980 horror film Inferno and 1981 Sylvester Stallone thriller Nighthawks.

In a statement, Palmer paid tribute to Emerson who he called his "brother-in-music" saying: "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.

"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."

Anyone struggling to cope can contact The Samaritans for free on 116 123 or at

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