Greg Lake


musical style: 

photograph of Greg Lake

Gregory Stuart "Greg" Lake (10 November 1947 – 7 December 2016) was an English singer, musician, songwriter and producer. He was a vocalist and bassist of King Crimson, before becoming the bassist, guitarist, vocalist, and lyricist of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He also recorded as a solo artist, which included his 1975 hit single, "I Believe in Father Christmas".

Greg Lake was born in Poole, Dorset, and first learned to play guitar aged 12. He came to prominence as a founding member of King Crimson. He was a school friend of guitarist Robert Fripp, who invited Lake to join the new band and take on the tasks of lead singer and bass player. Lake was primarily a guitarist, but agreed to switch to bass at Fripp's request. Lake had some involvement in writing the lyrics for King Crimson's debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King, although Peter Sinfield was the primary lyricist. Aside from being the lead singer and bass player, Lake also ended up producing the album after their contracted producer, Tony Clarke, walked away from the project.

"In the Court of the Crimson King", released in 1969, made King Crimson far more successful than any of Fripp and Lake's earlier projects (such as the Shy Limbs or Giles, Giles and Fripp), and became a key influence and landmark in the emerging progressive rock genre. Lake's vocals, which ranged from serene and soothing to acerbic and distorted, were a striking element of the album. However, Lake stayed with King Crimson for only about a year, leaving soon after their debut album to start the rock trio Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Though at Fripp's request, Lake provided the vocals for King Crimson's second album, In the Wake of Poseidon.

King Crimson played a couple of venues with The Nice, during which Lake struck up a friendship with The Nice's precocious keyboardist Keith Emerson. Lake and Emerson eventually teamed up and brought in the drummer from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster, Carl Palmer—forming the progressive rock 'supergroup' Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP). Lake contributed acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, lyrics, vocals and production work to the band. The trio did not make use of external producers for any of their albums in the 1970s, nor did they employ session players for studio work or live performances. During concerts, Lake would play acoustic guitar, electric guitar or bass as required. Beginning with the 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery, Lake did collaborate with Peter Sinfield to write lyrics.

ELP sold more than 30 million albums in the 1970s, and made a significant musical contribution to the evolution of progressive rock. Lake co-wrote many of ELP's songs but was known for his guitar-oriented, soulful ballads. On their debut album (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Lake included an acoustic song (with a keyboard outro hastily recorded by Emerson) called "Lucky Man", based on a poem he had written at the age of 12. In determining the direction of the band, Lake's focus on ballads, radio-friendly material and "down-to-earth" compositions contrasted sharply with Emerson's desire to create rock symphonies and polyphonic, poly-rhythmic suites. Their collaboration led to ELP creating albums with an eclectic mixture of classical pieces, ballads, hard rock songs and epic-length suites.

In 1975, while still a member of ELP, Lake achieved solo chart success when his single, "I Believe in Father Christmas", reached number two on the UK Singles Chart. It has become a Yuletide perennial.

Lake subsequently joined Asia, briefly replacing fellow King Crimson alumnus John Wetton, and then co-formed Emerson, Lake & Powell.

In 2005, Lake toured Germany and the United Kingdom with his "Greg Lake Band" which included David Arch, Florian Opahle, Trevor Barry on bass, and Brett Morgan.

Lake performed "Karn Evil 9" with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at several shows. He was a special guest on the album Night Castle (2009).

In 2010, he toured with Keith Emerson, from which came the live album Live from Manticore Hall. In 2012, Lake toured England, The United States and Italy with the "Songs Of A Lifetime" show. He played a career retrospective, along with select covers, for small audiences.

On 25 July 2010, Lake joined Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer for what was to be the final live concert by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, at the High Voltage rock festival, in Victoria Park, London. The entire concert was later released as the double-CD live album, High Voltage.

In late June 2013 Lake was invited to star at Genoa's International Poetry Festival where he performed a reading of "Pirates", a drama piece in music he wrote with Peter Sinfield, then performed some of his classic songs.

On 9 January 2016 he was awarded an honorary degree in music and lyrics composition by Conservatorio Nicolini in Piacenza, Italy, the first degree awarded by the conservatory.

Lake died following a lengthy battle with cancer on 7 December 2016 at the age of 69.


Greg Lake with Gary Moore (1981) US #62; UK No. 62
Manoeuvres with Gary Moore (1983) US No. 209
Ride the Tiger with Geoff Downes (2015)

Live albums
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Greg Lake in Concert (aka Nuclear Attack/Live/In Concert) with Gary Moore (1995)
Greg Lake (2007)
Songs of a Lifetime (2013)
Live from Manticore Hall with Keith Emerson (2014)

The Greg Lake Retrospective: From The Beginning (1997)
From The Underground: The Official Bootleg (1998)
From The Underground 2 : Deeper Into The Mine : An Official Greg Lake Bootleg (2003)

I Believe in Father Christmas (1975)
C'est La Vie (1977)
Watching Over You (1977)
Love You Too Much (1981)
Let Me Love You Once (1981)
It Hurts/Retribution Drive (1982)
Famous Last Words (1983)

Greg Lake: Live In Concert (2006)
Welcome Backstage (2006)

with the Shame
Don't Go Away Little Girl/Dreams Don't Bother Me (1967)

with Shy Limbs
Reputation/Love (1968; side B only)

with King Crimson
In the Court of the Crimson King (October 1969); US No. 28 UK No. 5
In the Wake of Poseidon (May 1970); US No. 31 UK No. 4
Epitaph (1997)

with Emerson, Lake and Palmer
The discography of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, an English progressive rock band, includes 9 studio albums, 17 live albums, 13 compilation albums, and 13 singles.

with Asia
Enso Kai (2001), Recorded live at the Budokan in Tokyo, Japan, on 6 December 1983.

with Emerson, Lake and Powell
Emerson, Lake & Powell (1986)
The Sprocket Sessions (2003(An Official Bootleg), 2010(Reissue))
Live in Concert (2003(An Official Bootleg), 2010(Reissue))
Live in Concert & More... (2012), 2CDs Contains 2 previously released official bootlegs, Live in Concert and The Sprocket Sessions
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Gear used by Greg Lake

Greg Lake bass guitars

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