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Emerson, Lake & Palmer drummer Carl Palmer rocks Miami on legacy tour

By Madeleine Marr

mmarr@miamiherald.com

There’s rock royalty in our midst.

Drumming legend Carl Palmer has reached No. 1 on the charts with three different bands: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Asia.

On Friday night, Palmer will be performing a special concert in Miami at the Olympia Theatre as a stop on the 66-year-old’s ELP Legacy North American tour.

The show celebrates Palmer’s 50th year in music, but is also a tribute to ELP founding member and keyboardist Keith Emerson, who commti suicide in March. Expect the ’70s British group’s greatest hits as well as classic covers.

Can you tell us what this tour means to you?

This is a special tour, obviously, because it was originally designed to celebrate my 50th year as a professional musician. Keith was going to join me on select dates on this tour - we had long-discussed the idea of a contemporary dance interpretation of our music. Keith liked that idea. Nothing was nailed down but it was in the works, and then tragedy struck. I felt compelled at that point to turn the show into a tribute to Keith. These are the songs in our ELP catalog that meant the most to him and had his greatest input. It is sad, but it is also a joyous celebration of the music and legacy of the band we had together with Greg Lake for nearly 40 years.

Anything else you want us to know about the concert?

Well, as I just discussed, it was intended as a celebration, which would have had Keith involved. Now, it will be a tribute to him but will also present our music in a whole new format, one that marries music with dance and compelling film. We run video through the entire show, including some poignant footage of Keith performing with ELP. My usual concert does not include keyboards; it is a power trio with Paul Bielatowicz on guitar and Simon Fitzpatrick on bass.

Discuss special musical guests Steve Hackett and Mark Stein.

For this show only, I wanted to bring some special guests, so we have Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett and Mark Stein of Vanilla Fudge on keyboards and vocals on select songs. It will be very special, I am sure. Steve will play on a few tracks, including “Fanfare for the Common Man,” and Mark will play his classic Hammond Organ and sing on a few songs.

What’s your favorite ELP song? Can you pick just one?

I would have to say our epic arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition, which Keith and I both played as classical music students in our youth. ELP revolutionized the rock world when we presented our rock version of this work to our audience. The album sold over 5 million copies. The 22-minute selection is currently the centerpiece of the show.

What is on your playlist right now?

It is a mix of ELP classics such as Welcome Back My Friends, Karn Evil 9, Hoedown and Knife Edge; other re-arranged classical favorites like Carmina Burana, and some ELP rock covers such as Peter Gunn.

What do you like to do in Miami?

I enjoy the sun and the warmth. I hope to check out art galleries and interesting antique shops. I love the people of Miami, too — they are great.

How do you see the music landscape evolving?

It is both exciting and sad. Sad, in the sense that music seems to be more and more disposable. There is little sense of brand loyalty with artists like we had in the ’60s and ’70s, and radio is no longer the way to break artists and records. On the other hand, the Internet has totally revolutionized how music is made, promoted and distributed. So that is exciting. But for artists of my generation, it is all about the live show. We don’t make much off CDs anymore. ELP does because we owned our recordings and have been able to continually license them but, for the most part, if you want to be a working musician, you have to tour much of the year.

Remembering Keith and the Music of Emerson, Lake & Palmer; 8 p.m. Friday; Olympia Theater: Tickets: tickets.olympiatheater.org

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