by Steve Patrick
– Sr. Columnist —
Fans of Progressive Rock were rocked in 2016 by the untimely deaths of both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake. The loss of the two prog luminaries within the same year was enormous. It also left drummer Carl Palmer as the sole surviving member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Palmer’s explosive drumming has entertained and inspired generations of drummers stemming from his work with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, Mike Oldfield, ASIA, and of course, ELP. His help in defining progressive rock also recently earned him Prog God status from the 2017 Progressive Music awards.
After ELP broke up in the late 1990s, Palmer has been keeping the ELP flame burning with the Carl Palmer Band and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy live touring acts (there was a one-off ELP reunion in 2010). Following a summer run of shows on the Yestival tour alongside friends and peers YES and Todd Rundgren, the drumming legend is now on the final leg of his 2017 Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy “Emerson Lake & Palmer Lives On!” world tour with stops remaining in North America and the UK.
Hardrock Haven had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Palmer at the onset of his North American leg of dates. Palmer discussed being the last remaining member of ELP, his recent experience touring on the Yestival, his future CD/DVD releases, and the legacy of ELP:
HRH: You’re currently embarked on the Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy “Emerson, Lake & Palmer Lives On! World Tour”. You have been touring as the Carl Palmer Band and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy for years prior to the unfortunate deaths of Greg and Keith last year. Did those tragic events strengthen your resolve to keep this music out in front of fans in a live setting?
CP: We were the Carl Palmer Band, then in 2011 we became Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy. It is a celebration of the music I made in ELP. Now with Keith and Greg gone, I am the last man standing, so to speak. I have been doing this since 2001. Their passing made me more determined than ever to keep the music alive. But, it was not my incentive to do this. I was already doing this.
HRH: I see that you were recently awarded the Prog God status at the 2017 Progressive Music awards. What do you think of that recognition?
CP: Awards don’t mean much to me, but it is nice to be recognized by your peers, and since I was a pioneer in British Prog music, I guess this award made sense for me. I had a great night at the awards- it was nice to be honored.
HRH: Carmine Appice recently made the statement in an interview that “there are no new drum heroes.” Would you agree with that statement?
CP: I think there are a lot of new drum heroes. I listen to new music all the time and I pay attention to a lot of the new drummers.
HRH: Over the summer you were part of the Yestival tour with YES and Todd Rundgren. Was it nice being out on the road with your old friends and ASIA alumni Steve Howe and Geoff Downes?
CP: We never stopped working together really. Geoff and I remain in ASIA, and I still have business with Steve because he is part of the ASIA corporation that is the 4 original members. It was a great experience and I loved touring with Todd Rundgren who came out and sang “Lucky Man” with us 3 or 4 times. YES, with Steve Howe and Alan White, has some challenges right now, but their fans still came out to support them.
HRH: What should be the ELP album that first-time listeners use as a gateway into the band’s music and why that selection?
CP: Brain Salad Surgery was the best album we ever made, but it is very intense. You can always get the Best of ELP as an introduction, but really the right way is to start with our first album and listen to each album in order of release. Then you can track the musical growth of the band.
HRH: Are you working on any newly recorded music that fans can look forward to?
CP: I just signed with BMG Music, and the first releases will be our Live in the USA CD and the Tribute to Keith Emerson – Pictures at an Exhibition DVD. As far as new music, I have some ideas so we will see where that takes us.
HRH: You’re touring as Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy – in your opinion, what is the legacy left by ELP’s time together and what do you hope future listeners get out of the band’s catalog?
CP: The music itself is the legacy. Those recordings are forever. As far as what listeners get out of the catalog? I would say it is to enjoy the music and take it in with no distractions. It is serious music and has to be listened to as such. The fans we see every night have been fans for almost 5 decades. There has to be something going on with the music to get that kind of loyalty.
For tour dates and more information, please visit www.carlpalmer.com