Never miss anything again. Sign up for our RSS news feeds and Newsletters.

Fanfare date for a rock legend

Being one third of legendary prog rockers Emerson, Lake and Palmer was bound to take its toll eventually, and former bass player Greg Lake makes no secret of the fact that he's glad to have moved on.

This Is Lancashire: 21st century man: Prog rocker Greg Lake will be performing new solo material at St George's Hall in Bradford 21st century man: Prog rocker Greg Lake will be performing new solo material at St George's Hall in Bradford

"I think I've pushed enough boundaries," he laughs, talking about the new material he's showcasing on a solo tour which takes in Bradford. "Songwriting with meaning has always been important to me, and a good concert should take the audience on a theatrical journey but all that innovative Emerson, Lake and Palmer stuff is in the past.

"We toured too much 300 dates a year at one point and we'd tapped all our creative juices. We ran out of inspiration, there was nowhere else to go. It didn't end happily and I have no desire to work with them again, it's something I want to leave behind. It was part of my life but now I've moved on."

Dorset-born Greg, 59, is relaxing at home in London before embarking on a world tour in September. "I've got a new band, we did some dates last year and released a live DVD," he says. "I like being on the road. I'm an air-conditioned gipsy! Playing live was how I started as a kid when I learned guitar and it's still a big pleasure."

Just don't expect the pomp and ceremony of an ELP gig. "I've never been a fan of gratuitously spectacular productions," says Greg. "The visuals are OK if it all ties in with the music it's a long time for the audience to be sitting there without anything to look at otherwise but I'm not into a load of flashing lights and weird images for the sake of it. I like taking audiences on a journey.

This Is Lancashire: 21st century man: Prog rocker Greg Lake will be performing new solo material at St George's Hall in Bradford 21st century man: Prog rocker Greg Lake will be performing new solo material at St George's Hall in Bradford

"I was talking to someone recently about classical music going downhill as public entertainment and it's no wonder. The orchestra and conductor come on, all dressed the same, play some music then leave. You might as well be at home with a glass of wine listening to a CD."

Regarded as one of the most important British musicians of the past four decades, Greg is best known for being in ELP and King Crimson and for the classic festive hit I Believe In Father Christmas (which I can't get out of my head during or after this interview).

He started playing London club bands and in 1968 formed the innovative King Crimson with childhood friend Robert Fripp. Debut album In The Court Of The Crimson was an international hit, featuring nihilistic anthem 21st Century Schizoid Man.

Blending hard rock, jazz and classic music into a commercial context, it's regarded by rock historians as a pivotal album and one that gave birth to the progressive rock movement that spawned acts like Genesis, Pink Floyd and ELP, which Greg formed with ex-Nice keyboard player Keith Emerson and Crazy World of Arthur Brown drummer Carl Palmer.

From their debut at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, their supergroup status was sealed. The combination of Emerson doing weird things with knives and keyboards, Lake's songwriting, vocal and production creativity and Palmer's wild percussion resulted in a hugely influential musical genre. An ELP stage show became one of rock's must exciting events, blending spellbinding visual stunts with compelling sounds.

This Is Lancashire: 21st century man: Prog rocker Greg Lake will be performing new solo material at St George's Hall in Bradford 21st century man: Prog rocker Greg Lake will be performing new solo material at St George's Hall in Bradford

"Prog rock was shut down by the media and punk was created by the media, as were so many genres that came and went," says Greg. "It's only now that people are asking, where did all the originality go?' Good songwriting stands the test of time. I'm playing the Royal Albert Hall in September. Where are the Sex Pistols?

"Today's music industry has shot itself in the foot. We've got a Pop Idol culture that devalues music, reduces it to mockery. Imagine if they did that with paintings? Artists are forced to conform to the market, but eventually someone will break out. It's happening with the internet kids are forming bands and taking control."

By 1980, after 40 million record sales, ELP had burned out. In 1992 they returned with the Black Moon album, and continued for six years.

As a solo artist, Greg has worked with the likes of Bob Dylan, Gary Moore and more recently Ringo Starr.

His latest project has been playing bass on The Who's new album. "I like working with other acts," he says. "I'm still in touch with Robert Fripp, we may work together again King Crimson ended more happily than ELP. It actually ended because two of the boys didn't like flying!

This Is Lancashire: 21st century man: Prog rocker Greg Lake will be performing new solo material at St George's Hall in Bradford 21st century man: Prog rocker Greg Lake will be performing new solo material at St George's Hall in Bradford

"I'll probably release an album next year. Until now I haven't had any inclination. So many artists just release albums so people won't forget them. For a long time music has been suppressed by the media and business. I'm only interested in doing my own thing."

l Greg Lake is at St George's Hall on Friday, September 22. Ring (01274) 432000.



About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree