Negativity and Keith Emerson

Two things that confuse, perplex, and worry me in this world: depression and suicide.  In no way would I ever consider myself above such things or not harassed by such demons.  But, obviously, I’ve never allowed (the right word?) either to plague me enough so that I’m not typing this at the moment.

Rest in Peace, Keith.

Ray Bradbury—who probably felt almost nothing but highs most of his life—once claimed that the worst thing an artist can do after experiencing a strong emotion is express it verbally.  Instead, the artist should allow it to become the inspiration for whatever art he/she is at the moment creating.

Though it’s been several days now since his death, I’m still sickened by Keith Emerson’s suicide.  I don’t get it, but I also. . . how could I?  Such a personal, intimate decision or non-decision as the case might have been.

I feel a bit guilty as well.  I don’t consider myself the biggest ELP fan in the world, but I own BRAIN SALAD SURGERY and TARKUS.  I like each, but I rarely listen to either.  When I was younger (as in back in the 1980s), I loved PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION.  I grew up in a household that welcomed almost all forms of music, and I was never deprived of classical music.  I know a number of folks came to classical music through ELP, and I appreciate this very much, even if wasn’t the case for me.

Last week on Facebook, a friend posted a picture of the cover of BRAIN SALAD SURGERY.  I immediately noted how much I loved Geiger’s work but then also stated (why?) that I didn’t think much of ELP after BRAIN.  I try hard not to be too negative when it comes to rock or prog, and I felt a bit guilty after posting even this.  A few days later, I saw the news that Emerson had passed away.  Ugh.

I realize, of course, that my view had nothing to do with Emerson’s suicide, but I also realize that my negative comment added nothing to. . . well. . . anything!

Regardless, I’m truly sorry for Keith Emerson and those who survive him.  He was an amazing—absolutely and utterly amazing—talent.  I hope he has found peace in the world after this one.  God obviously endowed him with the most restless of energies.  May He also offer the love to Keith that is infinitely and mercifully His.

4 thoughts on “Negativity and Keith Emerson

  1. Michał

    I’ve had similar thoughts. Never a fan of ELP myself, but I own the first album and I like bits and pieces of each of their albums up to and including “Works vol. 2”. I also like “Live in Poland” (the 1997 concert).

    I never understood the negativity directed at them as a group and Keith in particular. They were overblown, yes, but with a healthy dose of irony, something that seems to pass the attention of haters. And even the material of theirs I don’t care much about is strangely fascinating. The unusual arrangements and the musicianship made it idiosyncratic, pretentious too, but hey, they were three ambitious blokes who set out to break the rules, your typical ‘anything goes’ attitude, and they did it rock’n’roll style. It was FUN! Why hate it? You can ignore them, but hating undeniable talent, an own style and individuality because it is pretentious (or whatever else is the reason) is just wrong.

    (I would like them more were it not for the Moog, I appreciate Keith’s courage and innovative approach to synths, but the beast’s squeals are not to this ears’ liking, not in ELP, not in any other band.)

    They did burn out quite early as a band, but I feel they still had (have) something to give the world as individual musicians. So if it is true that hate was the reason for Keith’s suicide, it’s truly truly sad.

    Listening to “Welcome Back…”, the live album, and it’s fun! R.I.P Keith.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Michal. Well stated—very much so. My own MO is generally to ignore what I don’t like. Admittedly, though, I’m not a fan of the Moog, either. Too many natural sounds in the world to overemphasize the electronic. At least to my mind.


      1. Michał


        Thank you for this post, Brad. Your sentiments are what was missing in all the articles about Keith’s passing that I have read.

        Liked by 1 person


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