Keith Emerson (1944 – 2016)

I was 13 years old and up to that age had never much cared for pop music. This because of the classical music my mother adored. In our house there was no rock, no jazz, no blues, not even the simple Top 40 songs which hit the radio. Nope, it was all classical music. You could argue I had missed a lot of 60’s music fun, but on the other hand, I was still young enough to catch up. Anyway when I went to college in 1973 we got music lessons. 1 hour per week. And there was this teacher and he wanted to explain classical music. No explanation was needed for me of course, but the other children might have never heard classical music before. So, the teacher made a connection. A connection between pop music and classical music. He came up with … Pictures at an Exhibition.

Pictures at an Exhibition, he explained, was a classical piece of music for piano by the russian composer Mussorgsky. Later it was adapted for orchestra by the french composer Ravel. And then, in 1970, there came Emerson, Lake and Palmer. And they took this classical piece to Rock.

The teacher played the Pictures album of ELP, and I was blown away. I was awed. It was a turning point in my love for music. I had broken out of the classical realm and finally entered modern music. Rock. I bought all existing albums of ELP. And from ELP, I ventured further. Everything progressive rock. And soon after I went for the synthesizer. Keith Emerson, after all, was one of the very first musicians to use a synth. The monster Moog Modular. As the synthesizer became main stream in the eighties, I looked for other musical areas. I went into jazz. And later into modern rock, went back to psychedelic rock and blues rock. In the end I ventured into all sorts of music. But the basis of it all was Keith. Keith had opened the door of my classical music prison. He had the key. And the key was ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’.

Keith R.I.P

Emerson, Lake and Palmer

ELP is part of my Music One playlist. I dedicate Keith at the gates of Heaven to Keith (Original improvised synth version).

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