British-born keyboardist Keith Emerson of the 1970’s progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer died from a self-inflicted single gunshot to his head, police said Friday. He was 71.
Emerson’s body was found by local police at his Santa Monica, California, home in the early hours of Friday. Police have preliminarily ruled the death a potential suicide, Santa Monica police spokesman Sergeant Rudy Camarena told Reuters.
Born in 1944 in the Yorkshire village of Todmorden, Emerson was a keyboardist for a number of groups in the 1960’s, including The Nice. But he was best known as a founding member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, a so-called “super group” of well-known rock musicians formed in 1970.
In addition to Emerson, the band included bassist Greg Lake, formerly of King Crimson, and drummer and percussionist Carl Palmer, a veteran of several famous English bands.
“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,” said Palmer on his website.
“He was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz.”
The band posted about Emerson’s passing on Facebook, asking “that the family’s privacy and grief be respected.”
The band released nine studio albums during the 1970’s, including its debut self-titled album and its follow-up “Tarkus,” released in 1971. The latter reached the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart, according to Billboard.com.
Emerson later worked as a solo artist and wrote an autobiography, “Pictures of an Exhibitionist,” in 2004.