Greg Lake iTunes Greg Lake Official Website

Greg Lake

The singer behind EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER and the initial formation of KING CRIMSON (he bailed after laying down vox for 1970’s `In The Wake Of Poseidon’ set), GREG LAKE had a thriving musical pedigree before his decision to go solo in the early 80s. Of course, he’d launched a perfect festive exercise by way of `I Believe In Father Christmas’, an uncharacteristic sojourn into novelty Xmas-land, in 1975, when the glam brigade had all but procured the genre. It was a far cry –and several tears – away from ELP albums such as `Tarkus’ (1971), `Trilogy’ (1972) and `Brain Salad Surgery’ (1973), not forgetting his quintessential performance on KING CRIMSON’s prog-rock essential, `In The Court Of The Crimson King’ (1969) – `21st Century Schizoid Man’ et al.
Greg was born Gregory Stuart Lake on 10 November 1947 in Poole, Dorset, and grew up in the small-town suburb of Oakdale. He first discovered his love of rock’n’roll through LITTLE RICHARD’s `Lucille’, but in stark contrast, Greg penned his first song, the ballad `Lucky Man’, when he still not yet in his teens. His mother was a pianist, and through her example, he picked up the guitar, but only in an attempt to emulate his heroes The SHADOWS.
The mid-60s saw the young man abandon college to take up singing professionally. Cutting his teeth in the Unit Four, the Time Checks and, in turn, The Shame (he featured on the latter’s JANIS IAN cover 45, `Don’t Go Away Little Girl’), Greg followed his dream by becoming a bona fide member of an already established combo, The GODS (forerunners to URIAH HEEP). He’d played bass for them between 1967-68, but their lack of personnel continuity led him to head south at the suggestion of manager Tony Stratton-Smith, in order to team up with Dorset buddy ROBERT FRIPP, as singer/bassist in his all-new enterprise, KING CRIMSON. He signed off from this glowing combo with an appearance on Top Of The Pops with the sprawling, avant-garde single, `Cat Food’. But this was Fripp’s band.
When supergroups were all the rage, Greg could not turn down the opportunity to further showcase his talents in EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, and for nearly all of the 70s it was a matter of “Welcome Back My Friends To The Show That Never Ends”. Sadly, or indeed, prophetically, the show was over when punk/new wave came on the scene, although 1977’s `Fanfare For The Common Man’ opus had given it a run for its money. The big bang theory had weeded out most of the dinosaurs.
GREG LAKE, still only in his mid-30s, was not to be dismissed so easily. Signing a contract with Chrysalis Records, and roping in a star-studded array of band musicians (guitarist GARY MOORE, keyboardist Tommy Eyre, bassist Tristram Margetts and ex-SAHB drummer Ted McKenna), the singer was back in the lower end of the UK/US charts with the eponymous GREG LAKE (1981) {*6} album. Gone were the prog-rock traits of ELP, and in came a beefier sound marked by MOORE’s opening cut, `Nuclear Attack. One song in particular, `Love You Too Much’, was co-scribed with DYLAN, while other softer touches came through a cover of Steve Dorff & Molly Leiken’s `Let Me Love You Once’, which one thinks featured TOTO stalwarts Steve Lukather, Jeff Porcaro and David Paich; SPRINGSTEEN sax-giant Clarence Clemmons also made an appearance. 1983’s American-aimed follow-up MANOEUVRES {*4} was much of the same, bland lyrics accompanied by gutsy backing from (again): MOORE, Eyre, McKenna and Margetts.
Inevitably, after a brief spell with ASIA, the lure of the prog-rock penny tempted Greg back to ELP – Palmer’s place now filled by another drummer of substance, COZY POWELL. This alumni was never going to pull in enough punters for the large-scale trio to exercise their somewhat over-indulgent live shows. This could only be achieved when CARL PALMER was restored to the fold in 1991. `Black Moon’ (1992) and `In The Hot Seat’ (1994) re-positioned the combo as a top live attraction all over the globe, albeit nothing to touch the 70s.
Still commanding a healthy audience as of a 2012 tour, GREG LAKE threw in the odd ELP, KING CRIMSON and solo classic on concert set, SONGS OF A LIFETIME (2013) {*5}, identified and marked out from some exploitation sets by way of including respective BEATLES, ELVIS and CURTIS MAYFIELD songs: `You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’, `Heartbreak Hotel’ and `People Get Ready’. Sadly, after battling with cancer, Greg died on 7 December 2016; ELP fans had also lost KEITH EMERSON, earlier the same year.
© MC Strong/MCS 1994-2006/GRD // rev-up MCS Dec2016

Share this Project

Leave a Comment