Inside Emerson Lake and Palmer’s amazing rotating piano stunt: ‘Keith actually hurt himself doing it’

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Greg Lake takes fans inside one of Emerson Lake and Palmer’s most spectacular 1970s-era concert stunts — when Keith Emerson would rise above the crowd playing a grand piano and turn 360 degrees.

“It was a Steinway piano,” Lake remembers, in the attached video. “It was a fake one, I have to admit now. It had no insides in it. But the idea was that Keith would sit in it; he would be strapped in. There would be a lot of smoke, and the piano would start to rise up into the air — and it would get about 15, 20 feet in the air, and then it would start to spin. With him on it!”

The effect didn’t appear as part of Emerson Lake and Palmer’s stage show for very long, owing to its complicated nature — and a string of injuries to Emerson.

“He’d be playing while all of this was going on,” Lake says. “You had this spinning piano, and there would be more smoke and more smoke until the piano was spinning in smoke — and then there’d be a huge explosion, and it would disappear. Now, I can’t tell you how it was made to disappear. (Laughs.) But that’s what happened.”

As for the mishaps, Emerson has said he once broke his nose on the piano, as it rotated. Countless finger injuries followed, as well.

“There was a few times that Keith actually hurt himself doing it,” Lake admits. “So, we had to stop it. But for a while it was very impressive.”

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