February 8th, 2017
Greg Lake’s name comes up a lot every December as a song he wrote with Pete Sinfield, “I Believe in Father Christmas”, gets a lot of airplay. 2016 was no exception, although, sadly, this time many his appearances of his name were in obituaries after his death on the 7th. That this happened less than a year after Keith Emerson’s death added another layer of sadness.
It is disheartening but I could probably fill up this podcast solely with shows by recently deceased performers this year and for many to come. I won’t be doing this but there are certainly musicians whose passing I have to note. And Greg Lake’s is certainly one.
He was an original member of King Crimson and a third of Emerson, Lake and Palmer which makes him one of the founding fathers of progressive rock. I won’t bore you with maudlin tales of how these bands were a beacon of light during some of my otherwise rather dark and lonely teenage times. But I will tell you that Crimson and ELP were amongst the first prog bands I investigated when I learned that there was this thing called progressive rock and that there was more to it than Genesis. Greg Lake’s voice was a big part of the chorus that is the soundtrack of my life.
After ELP disbanded in 1979, Lake made a couple of solo albums but his recorded output became rather sporadic and would be until his death. There were a couple ELP reunions but he seemed to occupy him mostly with touring. He hit the road with Ringo Starr, Keith Emerson, and his own band. In 2012 he went on the Songs of a Lifetime solo tour. It was just him, his instruments, and pre-recorded backing tracks. During these small scale shows Lake would regale the audience with stories plus answer questions/converse with them in addition to performing.
In such an intimate setting he comes across as an avuncular fellow, a regular guy. Three things stand out for me. First and almost tautological is that he loved music. He played more than his own tunes at the shows and talked about how meaningful music was to him. Along this same line Lake acknowledged his fans and how much his music meant to them. He seemed humbled by this. His career was a journey involving not only him and his bandmates but also millions of fans. It was a group endeavor with a love for music at its core. Lastly I appreciated that Lake didn’t disparage progressive rock. I think he would readily admit that he and his fellow proggers went over the top on occasion but he wasn’t derisive of the genre, he never wrote it off as youthful folly. It was fun, meaningful, and is/was the soundtrack to many people’s lives.
This is Greg Lake’s show in Milwaukee on his Songs of a Lifetime tour. The date was 9 May 2012 and was at the Northern Lights Theatre. It’s a nice audience recording.
21st Century Schizoid Man
Lend Your Love To Me Tonight
From the Beginning Introduction
From the Beginning
Heartbreak Hotel Intro
The Court of the Crimson King
The story of The Court of the Crimon King Album
I Talk to the Wind
You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
Touch And Go
Still… You Turn Me On
A chat with the audience about memories
I Believe in Father Christmas
Shakin’ All Over
Introduction to C’est la vie
C’est la vie
Introduction to Lucky Man
People Get Ready
Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2
Someone shot some video at this show so here’s “I Believe in Father Christmas”.