Welcome to the The Legendary Keyboard Hall of Fame, hosted by How to Play Keyboard @ SimProv.
The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to collectively, as music and keyboard enthusiasts, celebrate and be inspired by some of the greatest keyboard music ever performed.
Inductee: Fanfare for the Common Man - Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) – (Keyboardist – Keith Emerson)
Fanfare for the Common Man was written in 1942 for the Cincinnati Symphony orchestra by American composer Aaron Copland. It was inspired in part by a famous speech made earlier in the same year where vice president Henry A Wallace proclaimed the dawning of the "Century of the Common Man".
Stewart Young, ELP's manager from 1972–present, made this comment on the documentary Beyond the Beginning:
The interesting thing... was that we had to get the permission of Aaron Copland, the composer. The publishing house said forget it. So I got Mr Copland's home number, called him up and he was very friendly on the phone. And he says "Send it to me, let me listen." And he loved it. He called me and said "This is brilliant, this is fantastic. This is doing something to my music."
Greg Lake remembers the first time ELP played the adaptation:
It was just wonderful how it came about: We were recording in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1976, and Keith was playing it as a piece of classical music. I played this shuffle bass line behind him and all of a sudden it started to connect. Then Carl came in and we three started to play it. Luckily, the engineer had a two-track running, and that is what’s on the record - the first time we played through the piece..
The video performance above was recorded during winter (minus 20 Celcius) at the Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 1977.
This live 1990 Japan performance showcases Keith's talents as part of the classic supergroup aptly know as The Best: Keith Emerson of ELP, Joe Walsh of the Eagles (electric guitar), John Entwistle of the Who (bass guitar), Simon Phillips of Toto (drums), and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter of Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers (electric guitar).
Keith Noel Emerson (2 November 1944 – 10 March 2016) was born in Yorkshire in England. A musical prodigy he was playing in blues and jazz clubs in London by his late teens.
Emerson was a founding member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, one of the best-known progressive rock groups of the 1970s. Emerson wrote and arranged much of ELP's music combining his own original compositions with classical or traditional pieces adapted into a rock format.
Following ELP's break-up at the end of the 1970s, Emerson pursued a solo career, formed other bands and composed several film soundtracks. In the early 1990s, he rejoined ELP, which reunited for two more albums and several tours before breaking up again in the late 1990s. In 2010 he reunited with ELP band member Greg Lake for a duo tour, culminating in a one-off ELP reunion show in London to celebrate the band's 40th anniversary.
ELP's record deal provided funds for Emerson to buy his own Moog modular synthesizer developed by the American electronic instrument pioneer Dr. Robert Moog. Emerson later said, "It cost a lot of money and it arrived and I excitedly got it out of the box stuck it on the table and thought, 'Wow That's Great! a Moog synthesizer [pause] How do you switch it on?...There were all these leads and stuff, there was no instruction manual."
What would you consider a highlight in keyboard music history? Leave your nomination in the comments section for our next Legendary Keyboard Hall of Fame inductee so that together we can continue to celebrate all of the greatest keyboard music in past decades.
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Happy playing, from Joanne