March 11, 2016


I wasn’t a big ELP fan, but I loved “Lucky Man,” and its groundbreaking synthesizer solo. Late last year, shortly after installing Jam Origin’s MIDI Guitar plugin on my computer, I was having lots of fun playing those style licks with my Telecaster plugged into Korg’s M1 software synthesizer, which has a patch called “Lucky Guy.” But then, it seems like every synthesizer, whether hardware or software-based, has a recreation of that tone, given that Emerson’s solo is for synth players what “Stairway to Heaven” or “Smoke on the Water” is for electric guitarists.

Though Emerson used to tell the story that by the ’90s, he forgot how to play it himself! In an interview with Keyboard magazine he said, “I’d played that solo many years before but knew what was expected of me. I actually got help from your magazine! I called up [then editor] Dominic Milano and said, “Dominic, you might think this is very funny, but I need a transcription of the ‘Lucky Man’ solo, because I’m damned if I can get it off the record!” RIP, as yet another legendary rock pioneer has left the stadium.

UPDATE (5:45 PM PST): Emerson “died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Santa Monica police confirmed to the BBC. His death was being investigated as a suicide, police added.”


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