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Emerson, Lake and Palmer Keyboardist Keith Emerson Dead at 71

Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images
Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

UPDATE 3/12: Emerson’s death has been ruled a suicide, Billboard reports. According to Santa Monica police, he suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Keith Emerson, co-founding keyboardist for Emerson, Lake and Palmer, has died. Long-time bandmate Carl Palmer said that Emerson died last night (March 10) in Santa Monica, Calif. and the band officially confirmed the news. No cause of death has been stated. Emerson was 71.

“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,” Palmer said. “He was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz.”

Emerson formed the progressive supergroup in 1970 with singer-guitarist Greg Lake and drummer Palmer. Famous for his stage show, Emerson often performing on a rotating platform and used a custom piano that turned end over end.

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The band broke up in 1979, but reunited during the ’90s for two more albums. The trio again performed together for a 40th anniversary reunion in 2010.

“I will always remember his warm smile, good sense of humor, compelling showmanship, and dedication to his musical craft,” Palmer added. “I am very lucky to have known him and to have made the music we did, together.”

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