Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer and Greg Lake formed rock super group “Emerson, Lake & Palmer” in London in 1970. The band released seven albums in the next decade, all of which went gold in the US.
(pay particular attention to the fascinating echo and delay effects of this band, all designed by Keith Emerson)
Keith Emerson was the compleat musician. It was not his avocation or occupation, it was his burning passion that encompassed and ultimately eclipsed his life in totality. Keith is said to have suffered from depression after a degenerative nerve disorder in his hands that hampered his keyboard playing capability.
Passion is not a logical decision. Passion dictates behavior without rationality or logic, making it all up as it goes along. Anything interfering can be ominous. I knew a guitarist that ripped off the bandages the day after a carpel tunnel operation so he could continue to play. Debilitating illness, frequently in combination with desultory forms of depression can be a life-threatening blow to such passionate artists.
History reveals other musicians that committed suicide for similar interferences with their life’s lusts, including substance dependency and various stripes of depression. One would think that the fruits of artistic brilliance in and of itself would be an adequate stimulus for personal happiness and fulfillment, but history infers that the more brilliant an artist is, the more tendency for their self-ruination.
* Nick Drake- A fragile genius, dead in 1968 from an overdose of amitriptyline, a treatment for lifelong depression. Autopsy did not reveal whether the overdose was intentional or accidental.
* Pete Ham- Badfinger singer-guitarist, suicide in 1975. Depression after losing all to a crooked manager. Pete wrote “Baby Blue”, the brilliant anthem that played out the last scene in “Breaking Bad”.
* Keith Moon- Legendary drummer for The Who, an entirely justified reputation as the wild man of rock, dead in 1978 from aspiration following a probable inadvertent overdose of Clomethiazole, a drug prescribed to help wean him off alcohol.
* John Bonham- Of Led Zeppelin, considered my Rolling Stone to be the greatest drummer in rock history. Extensive history of alcoholism died of respiratory failure following aspiration after drinking 40 consecutive shots of vodka in 1980.
* Richard Manuel- “The Band”, considered one of the great piano players in rock. Suicide in 1986. Deteriorating technical abilities from chronic drug dependency and alcoholism.
* Danny Gatton. The ‘Master of the Telecaster’. Considered one of the top ten rock guitarist of all time. Suicide in 1994 resulting from untreatable lifelong depression and deteriorating technical abilities.
* Kurt Cobain- Of Nirvana, ‘’the flagship band’’ of Generation X. An artist that changed an entire culture. A lifelong history of depression culminating in suicide in 1994.
* Brad Delp- Lead singer for Boston. Delp was considered among the greatest rock vocalist of all time. Suicide in 2007 after multiple stressful life situations.
Rest in peace, sad brother.
“Come inside, the show’s about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart
Rest assured you’ll get your money’s worth
The greatest show in Heaven, Hell or Earth.
You’ve got to see the show, it’s a dynamo.
You’ve got to see the show, it’s rock and roll ….”
Emerson Lake & Palmer, “Karn Evil 9” From “Brain Salad Surgery”, (1973)
Never thought I’d live to be a hundred
Never thought I’d get to do
The things that all those other sons do
Never thought I’d ever have my freedom
An age ago my maker was refusing me
The pleasure of the view
Moody Blues: “To our Children’s, Children’s Children” (1975)