Keith Emerson dies at 71: music stars react and pay tribute

Keith Emerson in Frankfurt in 2010.
Keith Emerson in Frankfurt in 2010. (Image credit: Frank Rumpenhorst/dpa/Corbis)

The music world was rocked once again over the weekend as news broke of the death of keyboard virtuoso Keith Emerson in an apparent suicide.

Emerson was an inspiration to several generations of synthesizer fans, with his music having a profound effect on many who heard it, and his incendiary live performances cementing his reputation as one of prog rock's great showmen.

Naturally, the musicians who knew, loved and respected Emerson have been paying tribute to him on social media. A selection of those tributes is below.

Greg Lake: "To all ELP friends and fans all over the world, I would like to express my deep sadness upon hearing this tragic news. As you know Keith and I spent many of the best years of our lives together and to witness his life coming to an end in the way that it has is painful, both to myself and to all who knew him.

"As sad and tragic as Keith's death is, I would not want this to be the lasting memory people take away with them. What I will always remember about Keith Emerson was his remarkable talent as a musician and composer and his gift and passion to entertain. Music was his life and despite some of the difficulties he encountered I am sure that the music he created will live on forever.

"My deepest condolences go to Keith's family.

"May he now be at peace."

Carl Palmer: "I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend and brother-in-music, Keith Emerson."

Rick Wakeman: "It's heartbreaking to lose so many musician friends this year and now Keith Emerson. Rest peacefully my friend."

Jordan Rudess: "Keith Emerson- my hero, my friend. He's left the planet for higher ground. I'll miss him forever."

Mike Portnoy: "Wow… I am absolutely stunned over hearing of Keith Emerson's passing. He was truly a Prog pioneer. This year's been absolutely devastating."

Geoff Downes: "Devastated to hear of the death of the greatest rock keyboardist ever, my dear friend Keith Emerson. A true genius and inspiration."

Paul Stanley: "RIP KEITH EMERSON. I saw ELP as a teen. Emerson was swagger & daggers stabbing the Hammond. THAT was prog with an edge."

Steve Hackett: "I'm terribly sad to hear about the death of Keith Emerson. A genius of the keys and a lovely guy."

Peter Frampton: "Dear Keith Emerson has left us too soon. Many great memories a truly gentleman. Rest in peace."

David Coverdale: "Keith Emerson... A Lovely Man & An Amazing Musician… Our Loving Thoughts To His Family, Friends & Fans...XX."

Joe Satriani: "Keith was a mesmerizing live performer."

Billy Sheehan: "Keith Emerson - one of my biggest musical influences. Through him I discovered so much amazing life-changing classical music. Rest in Peace."

Mark Ronson: "The most gangster Hammond organ solo of all time. Keith Emerson, rest in peace."

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.