‘Why should your name come first?’: Keith Emerson on the beginnings of Emerson Lake and Palmer

Keith Emerson, who has just released a stirring orchestral-rock album called Three Fates Project, returns to the earliest days of his star-making stint with Emerson Lake and Palmer in a new interview.

Emerson spoke with fans during a question-and-answer session at the Chiller Expo, moderated by ELP archivist Tony Ortiz. The keyboardist describes the painstaking process of putting together Emerson Lake and Palmer at the turn of the 1970s, from discovering a kindred spirit while Greg Lake was still the lead singer with King Crimson to holding tryouts involving a youthful Carl Palmer at the drums.

All that they had left was to decide on a moniker for the trio.

“We looked for a name, and I think the other two wanted a group name,” Emerson says in a newly posted video of the Q&A session, courtesy of Ortiz. “But none of them were that satisfactory. So I said, ‘Let’s just call it by our own names.’ They said, ‘What do you mean?’ And I said, ‘Our last names, you know — Emerson, Lake and Palmer.’ And they looked at me and said: ‘Why should your name come first?’”

After a moment of uproarious laughter, Emerson goes on: “I quickly thought about it and said, ‘Well, it’s in alphabetical order!’ So, as to avoid any arguments! The arguments came later, but anyway, they accepted that.”

Besides, “it doesn’t quite sing very well does it: Palmer, Lake and Emerson?,” Emerson adds, to more laughter.

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