‘I’m bigger than that’: King Crimson/ELP co-founder Greg Lake tries to shake off prog-rock label

After associations both with King Crimson and Emerson Lake and Palmer, it’s unlikely that Greg Lake will ever be identified as anything other than a prog-rock icon. Still, he’s trying to push out at the edges of that stereotype.

In fact, long-time fans know, he always has: Lake’s 1981 self-titled solo debut, for instance, included collaborations with bluesman Gary Moore, including a joint effort on a song that Lake co-wrote with folk-rock legend Bob Dylan. Greg Lake included an appearance by King Crimson’s Michael Giles, but also Toto’s Steve Lukather, David Hungate and Jeff Porcaro; as well as Clarence Clemons, from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band. Moore returned for a 1983 solo followup, and also appeared in concert with Lake.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REVIEW: Here's our review of King Crimson/ELP founder Greg Lake's terrific 2013 album souvenir from this tour, also called 'Songs of a Lifetime.']

Today, Lake is continuing a solo tour called “Songs of a Lifetime” in which he plays key tracks from throughout his lengthy career, as well as music — some of it distinctly un-proggy — that influenced him growing up. He’s thrown in Jimi Hendrix and Curtis Mayfield, even Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel.”

That hasn’t stopped people from associating him from progressive music. Lake even received an invitation recently, which he says he quickly turned down, to participate in Cruise to the Edge — a sea-faring prog-rock event aboard an oceanliner.

Lake tells Steve DellaSala of Audioholics that he’ll always be appreciative for the fame and fortune that progressive music afforded him, but that his interests are far broader.

“I’m trying to be myself; I don’t want to be bound up in sort of some movement,” Lake tells DellaSala. “Look, I’m very grateful to progressive, to the whole prog-rock thing, but I don’t want it to become a prison, you know. I’m bigger than that. To be honest, before I was into prog-rock, I was actually playing all kinds of music — including blues, gospel, a lot of things — and you know, in a way, I’d like to get back to some of that. I’d like to open my career out again to be a bit broader, so that I wasn’t just in that prog-rock band, you know. I mean I’ll never be able to escape it, and nor will I want to, but I do want to broaden out again and perhaps enjoy some of the music that I was kept apart from during those prog-rock years.”

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