Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Another One

I pretend to be much more appreciative of Prog Rock than I actually am: I’ll take the New York Dolls any day, or my beloved Parliament-Funkadelic. Dennis Chambers drummed for P-Funk for a while, and he was just as proficient–technically speaking–as any of the progressive guys, but he didn’t feel the need to play in 11/8 all the time.

Keith Emerson has passed away; he played keyboards for Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, which was also the name of a law firm that only handles really complicated cases. I had their Greatest Hits, and I liked that one tune that everyone else likes, the one about the gypsy queen and the vaseline and whatever, plus the bit at the end of Lucky Man (WEEEEE-ooooo-WEEE-ooo); that was about it.

I don’t dance, and I don’t like dance music; I like music you can dance to, though. Music need not be enslaved by the steady beat: let the songs do whatever they want. But the good stuff makes you shake your ass.

The video is from the California Jam in ’74, and I need to warn you about the setlist: Intro (feat. Hot Air Balloon)>Drum Solo>Acoustic Guitar Ballad>Keyboard Solo >Keyboard Solo>Keyboard Solo>Drum Solo>I Stopped Watching.

Of note, though: they were the headliners (co-headliners with Deep Purple, to be precise), which leads to the inevitable question: how many drugs were teens on for this nonsense to be the headlining act?

RIP Keith Emerson. Maybe no more dead rock stars this year?


  1. Luther Von Baconson

    March 11, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    • oh yeah, The Nice, really Keith Emerson’s best band. ELP just a pompous copy, with some King Crimson (courtesy Greg Lake) mixed in. And Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (via Palmer, via Atomic Rooster)

  2. I’ll second on the “no more dead rock stars ” bit. (Wait, does Justin Beaber count as a rock star? )

  3. I don’t do the RIPs and stuff, I didn’t know the guy and hadn’t thought of him as an actual human in a long time, if ever. ELP was cool. I like Prog. I assume Keith was a nice man. But I wanted to just comment and say the Black Sabbath from that California Jam is amazing and completely surreal with that fucking rainbow across the stage.

  4. If rock nerds want to have a prog fight in honor of the Fallen Emerson, here’s a 30,000+ word essay on the greatest prog rock album ever. Hint: there are keyboards.

    I filched “Tarkus” from a library as a bad mannered youngster. Changed my life for the better, even if it didn’t teach me scruples.

  5. California Jam, at the long-gone Ontario Motor Speedway (Cal Jam was Apr 6 ’74, followed by Cal Jam II on Mar 18 ’78) stands out for one significant reason: highest number of paid attendees at any rock concert ever. Never mind how many people were at Woodstock or Watkins Glen–most of them didn’t pay. At Ontario, they all paid. 300,00 paying customers. We shall never see its like again.

    A shopping mall now. You can still see Turn 3 if you know its there, and you are a plane:,-117.573956,448m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

    The Dead and The Allmans almost played Ontario, booked for May 27 ’73 (with Waylon Jennings too), but in the end they played Watkins Glen.

  6. Progressive Rock is neither progressive, nor rock.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.