Progressive rock and the entire rock n’ roll has lost one of its’ greatest progenitors of the genre a couple of Fridays ago this month. Didn’t die of cancer. No debilitating gestating disease (although, autopsy reports indicated he was heading that way whether he knew it or not). No natural causes, or being gunned down by some crazed stalking lunatic, other than himself.
No, Keyboard legend and one of my earliest teenage idols, Keith Emerson died, I’m afraid, by none other than blatant stupidity.
And I’ve seen this kind of thing personally happen in my life four times before TO BEST FRIENDS & roommates- although one was ruled accidentally and contributed to over prescribed medication fifteen years ago. I sort of looked upon that guy as a brother.
So when I hear of something contributed to suicide, I’m rather desensitized to it. I feel rather no remorse for Keith dying by his own hand. It was not a glorious way to go. Chris Squire died a noble death, he fought on to the end, and planned the legacy to go on in the capable hands of Billy Sherwood.
I have every right to feel angry and bitter after the crazy ordeal of finding my best friend Harry Perzigian in his king-sized bed drowning and bleeding in a pool of puke, excrement, and five giant industrial sized gallon sized bottles of Canadian Fine Mist beneath discarded pillows and bedspreads while puddles of blood and smashed glass laid discarded on the floor like deadly shards of eggshells.
I can only imagine it couldn’t have been any worse than his beautiful girlfriend Mari Kawaguchi to see the chaos of splattered brain matter all over floors and walls of what once held one of the most musical geniuses of our time. Sadly, I’ve read a few scathing posts about how people pointed the finger of blame towards Mari of her turning a blind eye when she revealed how moody Keith had been once he received his doctor’s prognosis. There was one idiot who accused Mari of how she conveniently left the house to do some shopping or that she was at the other side of the condominium that they shared in Santa Monica and didn’t hear the gun go off.
I don’t expect to make a lot of friends from people reading this, so when I do eventually post this up on facebook, it’s going to on the complete down low.
But in order to write what I’m feeling about Keith, and I’ve got to be fucking brutally honest – as someone as whom I looked up to throughout my middle school and high school years; you disappointed me. Your insecure act of cowardice no longer makes you a hero to me.
Greg Lake may not be as harsh as me, but he saw the signs according to this press release:
“I have to be honest and say his death didn’t come as a shock to me,” Lake said. “The situation with Keith didn’t happen suddenly — it has been developed from as far back as ‘The Works Vol. 1’ album. At that point I began to see things happening with Keith which didn’t look or feel right.
He continued: “It’s very difficult to describe what depression is. We all know what it looks like. People’s moods become very black. But it’s more complicated. It changes someone’s personality.
“He lived, in the end, this very lonely existence of someone who was deeply troubled. I saw someone who became increasingly confused, desperate and depressed.”
Despite the fact that Emerson‘s girlfriend said the musician was “tormented with worry” over how his degenerative disease affected his playing ability, Lake doesn’t believe that was the main reason behind his decision to end his life.
Lake said: “I’m sure that was a component — but a lot of people are given bad news like that, and you don’t take your life because of it.
“If anyone does have feelings of being so desperate that they think it’s better off not to wake up tomorrow, please talk to somebody. The doctor, your friend, anybody.
“Talk to them and tell them what state you’re in. If Keith had taken that path, he might still be here today.”
‘I knew something was a kind of off-kilter when I saw you try to walk around anonymously throughout the intermission crowd of the last Asia concert when they played here in Los Angeles back in 2014. You were skulking around the lobby bar acting distant, trying to sip your drink and rebuffing requests for pictures or autographs. I knew you were there to lend your support for your brother in arms, Carl Palmer. It’s not the first time, I’ve seen you at a Asia concert. I once stood next to you taking a piss at a urinal over the reunion of the original four concert up in Canyon Country.
Don’t worry man, I assure you, I didn’t look down at your dick.
HA! That’s something that Harry would say.
BUT What was up with those ruffle shirt and purple sunglasses? Where you there to audition for a remake of Austin Powers or to see a concert?’
I didn’t get to see Emerson, Lake, and Palmer in their heyday during the seventies. When they went on that huge money hemorrhaging tour in support of Works Volume 1, my mom and step dad declared me too young to go to the city by myself at age of thirteen. I had got to see Paul McCartney & Wings with my stepfather’s friend the year previously, but that same friend was unfortunately not a big fan of ELP. I didn’t get the full ensemble until the 1992 Black Moon tour at San Diego State University’s Open Air Theater.
However does seeing Emerson, Lake, & Powell or 3 with Robert Berry count?
All three times in San Diego.
The closest that ELP ever came to me while growing up was recanted to me by an old neighbor of mine in Parsippany, NJ while I was partying with him one weekend night at the Jersey City Reservoir (I still remember him wearing that infernal Yes Going for The One tour t-shirt- one I would’ve paid to get the shirt off his back), that the band was once within earshot of us when their tourbus made a pit stop at a local pizzeria called Morreli’s in the Lake Hiawatha area of town. He had passed by a small flash mob scene of them signing autographs and eating pizza.
And not of them took a selfie?
Oh yeah, I nearly forgot there weren’t any iphones back then.
Believe it or not, there is a Harry Perzigian connection here. Cozy Powell used Harry’s Brentwood pad as his American base (Harry had once auditioned to be the drummer for Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow, but lost the gig to Cozy Powell, but they became fast friends) when he wasn’t living in England.
Cozy asked Harry for his opinion on whether he should the gig.
Harry said definitely ‘of course, you’d be stupid not to.’
12 years later on, it didn’t end well for Cozy either. During the time I roomed with Harry, I got passed down some of Cozy’s LA wardrobe that he left behind.
I’m sorry, I’m presenting this blog to you half-assed, but at the moment, I’ve been working on a memorial piece on the co-creator of Logan’s Run and fabled screenwriter George Clayton Johnson for this year’s Comic Con International’s souvenir book that’s taking more precedent, but allow me to say this: Keith Emerson left us with work unfinished, and it’s just selfish and unjustifiable on how he decided to end it, because of something THAT could’ve been worked out with some deep analysis and discussion. There were plenty of other alternatives and avenues to further explore.
There’s something I find baffling with the autopsy report: how the hell does a medical examiner determine that one suffers from depression after examining a body? That sounds something straight out of a cancelled Minority Report episode.
I’m happy to hear that Carl Palmer is going to put together a little farewell tour in honor of Keith, that’s his comrade-in-arms, him, along with Greg has supported each other’s separate musical journeys since the many or so break-ups.
If it the tour stops here, it’s going to be a flip of a coin on whether I’ll be in the mood to support it.