With keyboardist Keith Emerson gone and singer Greg Lake sidelined indefinitely by illness, Carl Palmer has become Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s last man standing—or sitting, as the case may be—for the legendary British progressive band.
Rock’s most powerful drummer confirms he is not ready to slow down or stop reimagining the music of ELP. This year, he launched a new tour of the U.S. and beyond with his ELP Legacy trio, has just issued a sparkling new live album (featuring a version of “Tarkus” arranged for guitar, bass, and drums) and created an art portrait of Emerson for sale online. In short, at age 66, he has opened a new chapter on ELP with no hint
of it being his last.
Progression sat down with Palmer in Miami, Fla. before he delivered a June 24 Emerson tribute concert showcasing his own band with special guests. In the following wide-ranging interview, Carl details organizing the show recorded for CD/DVD release, discusses recently rediscovered/unreleased ELP material, and speaks candidly about the demons Emerson faced before his tragic suicide.
Progression: First, condolences on Keith’s passing.
Palmer: “Yeah, thanks. We’re very sad. He was actually going to play this year. We had discussed it in November/beginning of December  when I said, ‘Why don’t you come out and play with my band, you know, like one show? We’ll sort something out.’ We discussed a program—pretty much what [was] played at the [June 24 Miami] tribute.”
Progression: When did you last speak with him?
Palmer: “I probably exchanged an e-mail with him 10 days before the tragic incident took place. And I spoke with him about three weeks before that. He lived in California, so I’d either call him from my home in Cyprus or my home in London.
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