Greg Lake, the progressive rock icon best known as a member of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, has died at the age of 69.
Lake – originally from Poole in Dorset, southern England – died Tuesday after “a long and stubborn battle with cancer,” according to his manager Stewart Young.
“Greg Lake will stay in my heart for ever, as he has always been,” Young added in a Facebook post. “His family would be grateful for privacy during this time of their grief.”
Lake first shot to fame as a member of King Crimson in the late ’60s. The bassist then went on to enjoy global success alongside Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer in the supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) – selling 48 million records in the process and touring the world with a series of wildly over-the-top stage shows.
“We had 140 people on the road with 11 tractor trailers,” Lake told Rolling Stone in 2013. “We had our own doctor and all these crazy things. But for us, it was not just trying to be as loud and as big as we could. We were always trying to go one step further, one step bigger.”
The band split in 1979 and last appeared on stage together for a special 40th anniversary gig in 2010.
Tragically, Lake’s ELP band mate Keith Emerson committed suicide at his home in Santa Monica in March at the age of 71. An autopsy by the Los Angeles coroner later confirmed that Emerson shot himself.
Lake is also remembered for the festive holiday classic, “I Believe in Father Christmas.” Based around Sergei Prokofiev’s 1934 “Lieutenant Kijé Suite,” the irreverent yuletide theme reached No. 2 in the British charts – only missing on the top spot because of the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“It is with great sadness that I must now say goodbye to my friend and fellow band-mate,” Carl Palmer wrote on his website Thursday.
“Greg’s soaring voice and skill as a musician will be remembered by all who knew his music and recordings made with ELP and King Crimson. I have fond memories of those great years we had in the 1970s and many memorable shows we performed together.
“Having lost Keith this year as well, has made this particularly hard for all of us. As Greg sang at the end of ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’: ‘death is life.’ His music can now live forever in the hearts of all who loved him.”
Fellow British prog-rocker Rick Wakeman added on Twitter: “Another sad loss with the passing of Greg Lake… You left some great music with us my friend & so like Keith , you will live on.”