Greg Lake passed away at the end of last year at the age of only 69, and thus this book, his autobiography, is sadly published posthumously.
Of course, he is primarily associated with seventies prog giants ELP, but he also had a very successful period in the original incarnation of King Crimson, as well as a brief tenure in Asia – oh, and he also found time to put out a number of solo and collaborative albums along the way.
As with many books of this type, I found the story of his formative years the most compelling, in this case growing up in post war Poole, before eventually and inevitably gravitating to London in the sixties. He speaks very warmly of the family and friends who supported him in those early days.
The book follows his recruitment by local friend Robert Fripp, who he remained close to, into the maelstrom of creativity that was King Crimson, before graduating to global success with ELP. He seems to have had something of a fractious relationship with his band mates, particularly in later years, but I got the impression he was maybe just too much of a nice guy to reveal a great deal in the way of detail, preferring not to ruffle too many feathers perhaps. The nearest he gets to doing this is the brief account of his time with Asia, where there seem to have been more plots going on in the background than in a medieval royal court.
The latter part of the book returns to ELP, with their reformation in the early nineties for one reasonable and one fairly disastrous album. He candidly reveals that while recording 1992’s Black Moon comeback album, the producer confided how he was astonished at the way the band’s musical prowess had deteriorated over the intervening years, necessitating much of the material to be rerecorded when the band left the studio for the evening. Their last performance was a reasonably successful gig at the High Voltage Festival in 2010, which Lake wanted to turn into a full-blown farewell tour – alas the other two members outvoted him.
He goes on to offer some personal insights into the suicide of Keith Emerson in early 2016, and his own diagnosis with terminal pancreatic cancer. Other than that, he doesn’t give too much away in regard to his private life – he was married for over forty years – but I suppose that’s fair enough if he wanted to confine the book to his professional career. The book ends with a lovely, touching eulogy from his manager, which only goes to reinforce the image of a nice family man and a great musician.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
His extensive work with King Crimson and ELP. I just wish the book had been longer with more details on the creation of the great music he made over the years – at only just over two hundred pages it’s far too short, but maybe it was curtailed by his terminal illness.
One thing you’ve learned
This is a very enjoyable and interesting read, not exactly warts and all, but maybe that was never the intention anyway.