Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer Dies at 69

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Greg Lake

The singer scored one of his biggest solo hits in 1975 with "I Believe in Father Christmas."

Legendary progressive rock singer/bassist/lyricist Greg Lake has died following a battle with cancer. He was 69.

His manager told the BBC that the former member of the British bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer died Wednesday after fighting a "long and stubborn battle" with the disease.

A beautiful balladeer, Lake scored one of his biggest solo hits in 1975 with "I Believe in Father Christmas."

It has been a difficult year for fans of the pioneering trio ELP; keyboardist Keith Emerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in March.

In a statement, drummer Carl Palmer paid tribute to Lake, his friend and collaborator.

"It is with great sadness that I must now say goodbye to my friend and fellow bandmate, Greg Lake," he wrote. "Greg’s soaring voice and skill as a musician will be remembered by all who knew his music and recordings he made with ELP and King Crimson. I have fond memories of those great years we had in the 1970s and many memorable shows we performed together.

"Having lost Keith this year as well has made this particularly hard for all of us. As Greg sang at the end of Pictures at an Exhibition, 'Death is life.' His music can now live forever in the hearts of all who loved him."

Lake was born in Bournemouth, England, on Nov. 10, 1947. He befriended future King Crimson bandmate Robert Fripp when the two were in school, later contributing lyrics, vocals and playing bass on the band's 1969 debut, In the Court of the Crimson King, considered by many to be the first true progressive rock album and a template for what came after.

One of the most-beloved songs from the group's debut, "21st Century Schizoid Man," was memorably sampled by Kanye West on the song "Power." It was during the U.S. tour for Crimson's debut album that Lake met Emerson, and the pair formed a trio with Palmer in 1970.

The group's signature mixture of classical, jazz, rock and symphonic elements made them one of the leaders of the emerging prog rock movement across a series of influential albums, including their 1970's self-titled debut (featuring the Lake-penned radio hit "Lucky Man"); 1971's Tarkus and the live Pictures at an Exhibition; and 1973's landmark Brain Salad Surgery. All established their signature mix of multipart suites, fanciful instrumentals and the occasional radio-friendly track. Brain Salad Surgery featured one of Lake's best-known ELP compositions, "Still … You Turn Me On."

While the band's over-the-top light shows and unlikely chart success with efforts such as their 1977 cover of composer Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" made them one of the most popular prog rock acts of all time, their florid compositions — often produced by Lake — are credited with influencing the stripped-down, no-frills sound of punk.

Tributes to Lake poured in on social media from a variety of contemporaries, friends and fellow musicians.

This story originally appeared on Billboard.com

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