The Greg Lake Interview
As the voice of both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Greg Lake is undeniably a major cog in the progressive rock wheel. Along with the rich baritone, Lake excels as a guitar and bass player, providing both a folksy, melodic sense and a rigid bottom end to any group of musicians he’s involved with. As a songwriter, Lake brought ELP to the charts with “Lucky Man” and “From The Beginning.” Taken as a whole, Greg Lake’s musical contributions are unrivaled, no matter how you look at it.
For 2012, Lake is stepping back and celebrating his history on his Songs of a Lifetime tour. It will be the first time the singer-songwriter-guitarist will be going it completely alone on stages in America. Inspired by the tour he did with Keith Emerson n 2010, Lake will share songs from his own catalog, along with some from other catalogs, tell stories, crack jokes, take questions from the audience, and, as he told me, go on a journey.
As a longtime ELP fan, it was a special treat for me to talk with Lake. He was open and sincere, grateful to be able to go out, after over 40 years, and play his music to an adoring fan-base. The chance of another ELP reunion after 2010’s High Voltage appearance is not in the cards at the moment, but Lake takes it all in stride. As it is, he’s eager to explore what he’s done — King Crimson, ELP and his solo work — with an eye for doing even more in the future.
Tell me about your 2012 U.S. tour.
I’m currently three-quarters through my autobiography. It is called Lucky Man, surprisingly (laughs). But it is just the story of my life — I feel I’ve been very lucky. As I went through writing, now and again, a song would pop up as being pivotal or really important where somehow it really mattered. Not only my own songs, but songs by other people that really influenced me.
I just had the idea to put them altogether for one concert, playing them just for the fun of it. There’s a storyline that goes through them really, which, of course, is my career, my life, my music. It’s a life and a journey that I’ve shared with people like yourself. We’ve been together for a long time and shared that music over many, many years. I felt that this was the time to do a really intimate show. Not the sort of show, you know, “Ladies And Gentlemen, ELP…” And the curtains go back and you’re standing there and you play your show and then it’s “da-da-da-da-bomp…” and it’s over.
I used to have this manager called Dee Anthony who gave me a great piece of advice. It was the first time I had ever played Madison Square Garden and I looked out at all these 22,000 people and I said, “Look at this. I’m really nervous.” And he said, “You know Greg, just remember each one of those people — they’re just one. In reality, you’re only playing for one person, 22,000 times. To them, when they look at you, they’re just one person. You’re playing to one person. There’s a lot of them, but it’s only one person.” And I’ve always remembered that.
I wanted this concert to be intimate like that, where we shared it together. So it’s more of a celebration of the journey we’ve been on. I want to tell a few stories. I want the audience to…if they got any questions or even they want to tell a story, you know, about how they were there and how the music influenced them or affected their lives. I’ve heard some of the most incredible stories over my lifetime (from) the people who have been affected by the music in some way or another…some of them good, some of them not.
So there it is. It’s an intimate celebration, but I hasten to add, not necessarily a quiet or relaxed or somber moment. It’s not going to be a boring show of Greg sitting on a stool playing folk songs. That’s not what it will be. It will be me alone and it will be this journey that I hope will be something of a dream that people will identify with.
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this your very first solo tour of the U.S.?
I may have done one 30 years ago — I can’t remember to be honest. But it certainly is the first one in a long time. I’m really looking forward to it. Of course, it’s a challenge. It’s not something you go into lightly. A one-man show is a strange challenge. My hope is that when people leave that concert, they walk out and they just say, “My God…that was unbelievable. We went on that entire journey and it was just him.” That’s what will give me the thrill.
Are you playing anything live that you’ve never played live before?
There will be surprises in the show. I don’t want to tell you what I’m going to do; otherwise, there’s no surprises. And I think the surprises are what will make it interesting. You know that I’ve got to play “Lucky Man” — I’ve got to play things I’m known for. But it’s those things I’m not known for, and things that will come as a surprise to people, that I think will make the entertainment value in it. So, there will be some surprises, yeah.
What about new music? Have been writing any new music in the last few years?
I have. I’ve got a whole album recorded and ready to go. I just haven’t felt right about releasing it. But I think I’m going to finish it this summer and release it probably in the fall.
It’s a funny thing — you get reflective. I recorded this record and it just never felt like the right time to put it out. So there it is. I look forward to getting some new music out there because that’s really what’s always needed — something new as the next stepping stone. Otherwise, you’re just marking time in the same spot and eventually that gets tiresome.
I’d like to go back to that fateful day in 1969 in San Francisco when you and Keith Emerson met and discussed the idea of forming a new band. Was it a difficult decision to leave King Crimson and essentially start from scratch with a new band?
The end of King Crimson was something that came as a shock, really. Ian (McDonald) and Mike (Giles) just didn’t like traveling. They really didn’t like flying and we were flying every day. So they decided what they preferred to do was to go and work in the studio. They wouldn’t tour at all. So they said, “Look, we’re going to leave the band and we’re going to make an album together in the studio.” And that was that.
Robert (Fripp) came to me and said, “Let’s carry on (as) King Crimson.” And I thought about it for just a few seconds. It literally was a few seconds and I realized that Ian McDonald had been such a big part of the creative power of King Crimson. Mike Giles was unique; his drumming style was absolutely unique. I just could see there was no replacing those two, and that it would be a different band. It just seemed to me to be dishonest to have a substitute band. The band was so magical, in a way. The chemistry was magical and so unusual.
We had formed a band where Ian McDonald had come out of a military brass band; he’d never been in a group before. I mean, that’s weird unto itself…to come out of the military brass band and never been in a rock band, and then come straight into a rock band and start playing gigs. Michael Giles was weird, in a sense, in a good way. He was the only person I have ever met who could have total independence in both feet and both hands. He could play a different time signature with the left hand and the right hand and the left foot and the right foot. Four different time signatures going on. He was absolutely incredible. And he had a very strange approach to playing…very musical. The chemistry was effervescent.
So, I said to Bob, “Look, I’ll form a new band if you want. I just don’t feel good about carrying on with the same band.” And Robert said, “Well, I just think we’ve invested so much in the name and we’ve become popular and all of that. I’d like to carry it on.” So I said, “Well, I don’t think I’m going to be a part of it, but God bless you and best of luck with it. What ever I can do to help, I will.” And, in fact, I did record a couple tracks on the second album (In The Wake Of Poseidon).
The Nice had been playing on the same bill as King Crimson, and I met Keith in the bar after the show. We just started chatting, and he said, “How is it going with King Crimson?” and I said, “To honest Keith, it’s not, it’s over really.” And he said, “That’s incredible because I’m just finishing with the Nice. I can’t see taking it any further. That’s as much as I can do with it, so I’m really looking to move on. Maybe we should think about starting a band together.” And that’s how it started.
So when you were talking, did you have this concept of a power trio with a keyboard player out in front?
I think we did. There were certainly templates of similar things. There was Jimi Hendrix, who we knew, there was the Cream. It was not a totally unique approach. What was different about ELP…most bands in England drew inspiration almost exclusively from the blues, and from soul music, gospel and maybe a bit of country. It was all American. What we did in King Crimson, and later in ELP, we drew more off our European roots and that’s really what made us sound different. I think Keith and I had that clear, right from the word go.
We knew we wanted to be a three-piece…although, at one point, there was talk of Jimi Hendrix becoming involved. That never happened. We were going to jam with him at some point, but it never happened and a couple weeks later, he was found dead. We had talked to Mitch Mitchell before we decided on Carl (Palmer) and it was Mitch who had suggested bringing in Jimi. I thought at the time: Two virtuosos in a band…it might be OK for five minutes but it wouldn’t work. It would just clash, you know. We knew from the very beginning we would be better off being a three-piece.
There was this great contrast between you and Emerson in some of the songs you both brought in. Keith had these complex, classically influenced extended pieces and you had more basic, acoustically-based folk songs. How did you make it work?
There was a dynamic between Keith and myself, which was interesting. You’d have him playing “Tarkus” and the intensity of “Tarkus,” and I would play the acoustic on “Lucky Man,” and it would be a whole different thing. Then you got hybrids of those two effects, which you could probably see best on something like Trilogy, where we mixed the two.
Because I produced the records, I became very involved in the music to the extent that I would be heavily editing a lot of it…which didn’t always go that well with Keith (laughs). In the end, I think I made more good decisions than bad decisions. When you listen to something like “Tarkus,” a lot of the original writing is not there because we’d chopped out bits here and there, and we’d butt something together to make it work better. It was an evolution that we developed. And Carl too, had input into it. All three of us were proactive in creating these albums.
When you brought in Pete Sinfield, the lyrics became pretty heavy. What, for example, inspired something like “Karn Evil 9”?
“Karn Evil 9”…the reason that was the way it was is because of Trilogy. When we made Trilogy, it was just at the time when studios were moving from eight-track to 24-track, and when synthesizers were going from monophonic to polyphonic. All of a sudden, there was this huge freedom to create much more textural sounds and overdub a lot more sounds.
In the days of eight-track, you had eight tracks, although you could bounce around, but basically you were very limited. So you had to get it down on in a short amount of time on a small amount of tape. When 24-track happened…well, needless to say, it expanded the possibilities and we took advantage of them. Unfortunately, what we found was that it was a pain to play Trilogy live. We had a lot of problems because we had done so many overdubs. So we decided on the next record (Brain Salad Surgery) that we would not do that — that we would make sure that we could play everything live and then record it like that.
What we did is we bought a cinema. We decided what we would do is we would sit in that cinema, go up on the stage and play the album live, as it were. So as we were performing, we’d write some of it, then we’d come in the next day and we’d perform it on the stage. Learn it, perform it, learn it, perform it. And because it was live, I think it had this feeling of addressing an audience. And so we came up with this line: “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.” It was like talking to the audience, almost.
I think Pete had something to do with the circus in his young childhood and he was saying, “This is a bit like a circus; it’s got the feeling of a circus to me.” We decided to make it like fantasy circus. As if it were a parade going by, of these bizarre things (laughs). It got a bit zany. We never put a lid on it. We allowed it to run. And that’s what it became. In the end, I think it was Keith who came up with title “Karn Evil 9” because of it being like a carnival.
Someone once told me he had heard Biblical references in the lyrics. It certainly has that feel in places.
Pete and I would often use Biblical words because they tend to be strong. You know: “Judgment,” “Bishop.” They tend to ring through — “Redemption.” These words have power. So they’re useful sometimes to use at the right moment. But we never took religious (ideas) and used them gratuitously. We would just take words that are often associated with religion and put them into the context of whatever we were writing. So, the words had a poignancy and a dynamic power, in and of themselves.
You were talking about how you weren’t able to play Trilogy live, although I know you tried. I have heard live versions, for example, of “The Endless Enigma,” but it didn’t find a permanent spot on the set list.
It wasn’t easy to do it, even in the studio. But you never know. It is a lovely piece. I do like Trilogy. It is my favorite ELP album. It couldn’t be anyone else. It truly is a definitive album. It is the very best of ELP in a way. It’s got flashes of all the best things of what we were.
I’m thinking I might have to listen to it tonight when I get home.
It won’t hurt you. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy. It was about taking people on a journey. That was the thing about ELP — we tried to take people on a musical journey.
Two key gigs in the 70s for ELP were the Isle of Wight, which was your debut show. And then there was the California Jam, which is when I first became aware of what ELP was all about. Any particular memories of that one?
(Laughs) I remember flying in there. It sounds dreadful, but it’s true — we had a Lear jet and we flew into the Ontario Motor Speedway, and just as we came in, the pilot passed over the site and I just couldn’t believe what I was looking at, the amount of people. You would never see that many people unless there was a war. I don’t know the actual number that was there; you hear various numbers bandied about.
I’ve heard as many as 300,000.
300,000 wouldn’t surprise me. It was just an incredible site. I’ve never seen anything like. That many human beings together is very a strange spectacle…a wonderful spectacle. They came because it was an event. The event had ELP. It was a real honor for that many people to polarize around that one event.
Now that was one thing, but the other memory I have is of Ritchie Blackmore and Deep Purple. I think they were upset because they weren’t headlining. Somebody told them that they when they booked the show, they would be the headliner. But when it came to actually doing the show, they had been misled. They were supporting. I think he got angry and put his guitar through one of the cameras. It was like an $80,000 state-of-the-art camera. They took away their gig money. They were going to arrest him. So they earned nothing and he was threatened with being arrested, which was quite a thing at the time. That’s really what I remember.
The show itself, you tend not to remember because when you’re actually playing it, you’re not sitting there, watching it happen — you’re doing it. All of your consciousness at that time is consumed. I remember little things like Keith spinning on the piano because I wasn’t playing at the time — he was. So I could watch him. When I was playing, then I don’t remember a thing because I was totally absorbed by the performance.
You’ve obviously seen the footage and heard the music from the California Jam. Was it a particularly good gig for ELP?
I think it was pretty near the pinnacle of the band’s performing prowess. I don’t think we got a lot better than that. That was it. When we started performing with an orchestra, it was a different thing. I wouldn’t want to compare the two. But if you’re talking pure ELP, the California Jam was pure ELP at its very best, I think.
We were on top of our game, the show looked great, the production was fantastic…no expense was sparred. It was a fantastic show, fantastic sound, and ELP at the top of their game. One of the great shows…despite that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame deny it existed. They deny that ELP was important in the history of rock and roll.
You can’t have a band playing to 300,000 people in that way and a record be made of it on film, and then be denied that it doesn’t exist or that it is not part of American rock and roll, because it is. I don’t lose sleep over it. I don’t twist and turn in bed at night, thinking, “Oh why don’t they love me?” Bit it kind of irks me because it diminishes the value of the currency of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They don’t just deny ELP, they deny all those prog rock bands.
I agree. I spoke with Ian Anderson about this, and he said he thinks it’s an American thing.
Well, it is, but they have the Beatles in there because they can’t deny them. That would be an absurdity. But anything they can get away with denying, they seem to want to (laughs).
They have definitely denied bands like ELP, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Yes.
I tell you what’s important about it. Those bands definitely had an influence on bands like, for instance…if you go on my web site, you’ll hear a guy from the Red Hot Chili Peppers talking about he grew up on ELP. ELP, like every other band, had its influence, and why deny it? It was part of the richness of the rock and roll culture of the United States of America. God only knows, America has done enough for rock and roll, it doesn’t have to be shy about giving kudos to the Brits who came in with a bit of prog rock (laughs). The Rock and Roll of Hall of Fame is one small group of people. The American public is what I care about. I don’t have a problem with them.
After ELP broke up in the late 70s, you made a couple of solo albums with Gary Moore on guitar. How did you two get together?
I was in Abbey Road recording. Funny enough, I had kind of written a song with Bob Dylan. We didn’t actually sit down and write it together. I wanted to do a Bob Dylan song. But I didn’t want to do one that everyone else had done. I wanted to do one that was obscure. What happened was he sent me over a tape of a half-finished song and said, “Look, you finish the song off and then you can do this with that one, and that way it’s something original.” I finished the song and it was called “I Love You Too Much.”
We recorded the song, and it came to the part where there was going to be a guitar solo. I can play guitar okay, but what I really wanted was something blistering. That’s just not my style. I think it was my manager who said he knew Gary. He said, “I’ll give Gary a call.” And I said, “OK.” And Gary came into the studio. I’ll never forget it. He’s wearing this long, leather black coat. He walks in and he had a Fender Strat case in his hand. He put it down and it was, “Hello…” So then Gary says, “Can I just go in, unpack and tune up?” And I said, “Yeah.” He went in the studio and I sat in the control room. He was getting his guitar out of the case, and the next thing I know, he’s got the guitar around his neck…he still has his leather coat on and he’s got the headphones on. And he says, “Run the track please.” So I said to the engineer, “Is he set up already?” And the engineer said, “I think he is.” And I said, “Just put it into record then, just in case.”
So he presses record, and what you hear on the record is Gary Moore playing for the first time he ever heard the song. He played it and we recorded it and that is the recording. If you listen to the track, it’s a phenomenal guitar solo. Gary was instinctive. He knew where the solo was coming and off he went. We finished the song and I said to the engineer, “Did you get it?” And he said, “Yeah, we got it.” I said, “Gary, can you come in here in here, mate.” He said, “What is it…” I said, “You got to come in.” He came in and I said, “Play it for him.” Everyone in the studio was just laughing. It was just ridiculous. So we got to chatting. “What are you doing?” I said, “I want to go on tour, would you like to be in the band?” He said, “Yeah, I’d love to be.” And that was it. So Gary played guitar for me for awhile. And sadly he died…
Yeah, about a year ago.
I just couldn’t believe it. Gary, we’d only see each once a year, or now and again. We used to play at charity shows together. He was a mate and I was really close to Gary. We were guitar friends. We had this real shared passion. Where ever you would see Gary, he had a guitar around his neck and he’d be playing. And sometimes, when you wanted to talk to him, he would be practicing and he wouldn’t stop. He’d just keep playing and carrying on the conversation. If it was important, you could say to him, “Gary, could you just stop playing for a minute?” It became irritating (laughs).
I said to him one day, “Gary, do you ever put that thing down.” And he said, “Greg, if I walked into a hotel bedroom, and there was a beautiful model with no clothes on lying on the bed and a Fender Stratocaster, I’d probably pick up the Fender Stratocaster.” That was Gary. I was heartbroken when he died.
After you made those records, you were, of course, in Asia for a short time…a very short time.
(Laughs) Was I?
Yeah, I think so.
(Laughs) Do I have to be?
If you blink, you might have missed it. (laughs)
(Laughs) Well then, I’d rather blink in that case. What happened was I got a call one night from Carl Palmer and he said, “Greg, can you do me a favor?” I thought he wanted to borrow a guitar or something, so I said, “Yeah, of course, what do you want?” And he said, “Aw man…we’ve just fallen out with John (Wetton), the lead singer, and we’ve committed to do this satellite broadcast in Japan.” And I said, “Yeah?” He said, “Well, and also MTV has run this huge competition where they’re flying the prize winners over on a specially charted 747. There’s no backing out of it. They’ve paid for all the planes and everything.” So I said, “Yeah?” (laughs) He said, “Could you come to do that one show?” There were actually three shows. “Can you come and cover for him?” I said, “I don’t know all the songs Carl.” He said, “Well, you can learn them.” So I said, “When is it?” He said, “10 days.” I said, “No, I can’t do that.” And he said, “Aw man…”
Then I got a call from David Geffen and, to be quite honest with you, they offered me so much money there was no way I could refuse it. And so I did it. I sat up day and night with the lyrics. When it came to showtime, I had a lyric prompter and I did it.
I’ve the seen the video of your performance with Asia and you did a fantastic job, all things considered.
Thank you very much.
I can imagine the pressure.
Oh yeah. To learn someone’s entire set and all the nuances, all the cues and all the little points…to remember all the chord shifts and make the lyrics sound the same as the record. It was a severe undertaking. I wouldn’t want to do it again.
In all fairness, John Wetton had to do the same thing when he came into King Crimson.
He did! Maybe that was his retribution (laughs). To be honest with you, I am a close friend of John Wetton’s. We get on well, me and Johnny. We’ve always had a good time. We come from a similar part of the world. We probably grew up 20 miles from each other.
One other project you were with just a few years ago was playing bass on the Who’s “Good Lookin’ Boy.” How’d you get the gig?
I have done some charity things with Roger (Daltrey) from time to time. It’s called Teenage Cancer Trust. I’ve done it with Roger and Robert Plant. I had just done one with Roger and I get a call and he says, “Pete (Townshend) has asked if you can come and play on this record.” And I said, “What is it?” He said, “It’s our new single, ‘Good Lookin’ Boy’.” So I said, “Send me the demo and I’ll have a listen and see how it goes.” So he sent me the thing and that was it really. “I’ll give it a go” and went down there, and there was Pete and Roger…Simon, Pete’s brother and Rabbit, the keyboard player. And we made the record. It was a very simple record, but it was nice and it was fun just sitting in and watching those two — Roger and Pete — and how they interact with one another. Very funny, really. They’re like two old married people. Very funny (laughs). But you can see they are the Who. That’s the voice and the songwriting and great guitar playing. Pete is a remarkable talent, that’s for sure.
I wanted to finish up with your take on the post-70s ELP reunions. First you had Emerson, Lake and Powell.
My memories of Emerson, Lake and Powell is that it was a really good band. But the chemistry was not the same as it was with Carl. It didn’t have to do with the quality of the drumming. Both Carl and Cozy Powell are very good drummers. It was the chemistry. Carl had a special chemistry with Keith and I, and the chemistry wasn’t the same. But it was a good band and it was a good album too. For the short time that it was happening, it was fun. But it wasn’t Emerson, Lake and Palmer and it didn’t have the same sort of head-lifting energy. You get Emerson, Lake and Palmer in a room, you really know it. The energy level goes up dramatically and it’s a rare thing to happen.
You did eventually get back with Carl and reformed Emerson, Lake and Palmer in 1992. You recorded two studio albums, toured a lot, and called it quits after a show I attended in San Diego in 1998. Looking back, were you pleased with what ELP did in the 90s?
The album Black Moon was made with a guy called Mark Mancina and an engineer called Steve Kempster. They are wonderful, wonderful people. Talented and extremely creative people. And the Black Moon record was a pleasure to make with them. I’m still friendly with them today. They are remarkable and creative talents. However, we were signed to a company called Victory Records and that was on the road to unhappiness. The record company fell apart and it really wasn’t a good situation for us. We ended up making the next album (In The Hot Seat) with Keith Olson, who again is very talented and a previously successful producer. He’d produced Fleetwood Mac and other people. He was a great producer, but…
You know, ELP was never the same when it was produced by outside producers. Instead of making decisions within the band and biting the bullet and getting down to it, the decisions became deferred. You know, let’s do four and five takes, and choose one later. Instead of let’s get the fucking right one now. Right here, right now, tonight. Let’s do it. It would be, “Let’s do a few and we’ll chop them up tomorrow and make a good one out of them.” No, I don’t like working that way. For me, I was frustrated as a producer. I could see it could be better. We didn’t have the benefit of a major record label, which we had been used to. And so the whole thing was sort of down a gear. And it just didn’t feel right somehow. And it sort of fizzled in a way.
I understand there were conflicts because you wanted to step up and produce a record.
We were offered the chance to make a new album, which was Black Moon, and I said, “I’d like to produce the record.” Every time I produced a record with ELP, it had gone platinum. We had five, six platinum records in a row doing it that way. I don’t know about you, but for me, I’m one of those if-it’s-not-broken-don’t-mess-with-it kind of people. I mean, that formula worked. I was up for it, but Keith didn’t want to for some reason. I think it was because he found working with me difficult as a producer because I would not defer things. And I would tell him if I didn’t like something. Which I can understand — it’s not easy to work with someone who is very demanding, who’s very on your case all the time, you know. So I think there was an element of that. He wanted not to go through that again. He certainly wanted a different producer. And Carl joined in with Keith and they said, “No, we want a different producer.” So it was either a question of me stomping my feet and saying, “If I can’t produce it, no one can produce it.” Or I say, “OK.” This is a democracy. If they say someone else is going to produce it, I’ll go along with it. And I did. And we got Mark Mancina and Steve Kempster. But it still wasn’t ELP. And Black Moon isn’t ELP really. It’s ELP produced by a fantastic producer, but it’s a different record. And we are different artists on it, in a way.
Well, of course, you and Keith did reunite for a short tour in 2010, which I imagine, was sort of a precursor to the ELP reunion at the High Voltage Festival.
Yeah, it was. Keith and I got together, and decided we’d do some writing. We hadn’t written anything together for a long time. So it was, “Let’s see if we can write something.” So we started writing a couple of things and when we were doing it, we would take a break. And when we stopped, we would often run through one of the old songs just for fun. And what was nice was when we’d play the old songs, you could hear how they were written. It just be me singing, maybe playing the guitar or bass, and him playing the keyboards, and that would be it. No production, no synthesizers, no drums.
We thought that was interesting, when you hear the music stripped right down to its very bare creative essence. You know, this is how it was written. And we thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting doing a tour of how it was written?” That’s how it started and that’s what we did. Once the tour got going — it was a bit of fumble to start with — but once it got underway, it was quite successful. I think people really actually liked it.
And then ELP reunited at the High Voltage Festival. I know there were some technical problems, but overall were you happy with that performance?
It was a bad show for me technically, and it was a difficult show for the whole band technically, but we’re lucky we’ve spent so many years doing it that we ride through it and just keep going and basically just ignored it and got on with it. That aside, it was a fantastic show. It was very emotional, very nostalgic. A lot of people crying backstage (laughs). For some people, it had probably been 30, 40 years since they’d seen the band.
This is the thing. When people reach the autumn of their years, they do have tremendous fondness and nostalgia for the things they loved in their formative years and their youth. Everybody looks back fondly on their youth, I think. Well, let’s hope most people can. For some, I understand, it may be horrible, but hopefully for most people it was a good time in their lives when their lives started to blossom and they met their girlfriend and wife. And they went to college and that was a happy experience. And so the music they grew up with tends to be looked upon very fondly. That was the feeling at the High Voltage.
Which leads me to the next inevitable question: Are there any plans in the foreseeable future of you working with Keith and/or Carl again?
I would never say never personally. I’ve got no reason to say never personally. I doubt very much it will happen because I don’t think Carl and Keith are in that same frame of mind. If they ever are and if they ever feel they can just come and put it together and be happy, why not? I think that when people have bought 25 million albums of the music we created, the least you can do is to play for them live.
It’s rather like when you give a bank check to someone, it’s a promise to pay. When someone buys an album, to me, that’s a promise to come and play live for them. So I always have that feeling of indebtedness because someone made it possible for me to live and have a career. The least you can do is go and play a song for them. I believe every artist should really look at live performance in that way. You really do owe it to your audience. I’ll always be happy to play with ELP because it’s a great band. Any chance I have to play with a great band, I’m happy about.