Home / Music & Arts / Keyboardist Keith Emerson found dead in possible suicide

Keyboardist Keith Emerson found dead in possible suicide

Keyboard player Keith Emerson, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, pictured in 1977, died Thursday night at the age of 71.Michael Putland/Getty Images

Keyboard player Keith Emerson, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, pictured in 1977, died Thursday night at the age of 71.

Keith Emerson, the legendary Emerson, Lake and Palmer keyboardist who turned the instrument into every bit the powerful and cool rock weapon as the guitar, was found dead Thursday night in his California home — and police are investigating it as a possible suicide.

He was 71.

Emerson was found with an apparent self-inflicted single gunshot wound to the head when his girlfriend returned to their shared home, police said.

Emerson was found in his California home Thursday night.Daniel Knighton/FilmMagic

Emerson was found in his California home Thursday night.

“We regret to announce that Keith Emerson died last night at his home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles,” the band announced on its Facebook page Friday. “We ask that the family’s privacy and grief be respected.”

MAURICE WHITE, CO-FOUNDER OF EARTH, WIND & FIRE, DEAD AT 74

In recent years, the British-born rocker had been battling diverticulitis, a painful condition that inflames the wall of the colon.

The British-born rocker first caught fans’ attention with the group Nice, producing an anti-Vietnam protest anthem with a blistering 1968 instrumental rearrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s “America.”

Two years later, he co-founded Emerson, Lake and Palmer with guitarist Greg Lake and drummer Carl Palmer. The prog rock power trio’s coming out party was the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, which caught the ear of legendary Atlantic Records’ big shot Ahmet Eregun.

The classically trained Emerson stood out with his stage showmanship on the Hammond Organ and Moog synthesizer, using pyrotechnics and a unique, unmatched left hand technique.

The band produced seven albums before breaking up in 1979 — including the landmark 1973 album “Brain Salad Surgery” — though they reunited several times over the ensuing decades.

DEATHS OF GLENN FREY, DAVID BOWIE, NATALIE COLE AND LEMMY MARK HORRIBLE MONTH FOR MUSIC FANS

“Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come,” Palmer said in a statement.

His death comes at a horrible stretch for classic rock fans.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer perform at Oakland Coliseum Arena in 1977.Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images

Emerson, Lake and Palmer perform at Oakland Coliseum Arena in 1977.

Motorhead’s Lemmy, the gravel-voiced heavy metal pioneer whose real name was Ian Fraser Kilmister, succumbed to cancer on Dec. 28. Thirteen days later, David Bowie also passed away after a battle with cancer. Then Eagles member Glenn Frey died on Jan. 18 at the age of 67 in New York City, the victim of complications of rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and pneumonia.

Before the month was out, Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner died after multiple organ failure and septic shock after a heart attack, and velvety-voiced Earth, Wind & Fire singer Maurice White, 74, died on Feb. 4 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Legendary Beatles producer George Martin died earlier this week at the age of 90.

With Wire News Services

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