Keith Emerson's death ruled suicide

By Mark Savage
Music reporter

Image caption, Keith Emerson was one of the most flamboyant keyboard players of his generation

Rock musician Keith Emerson, who was found dead last week, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Los Angeles coroner's office has ruled.

Ed Winter, a spokesman for the county Medical Examiner's Office, confirmed the death was ruled a suicide.

The keyboard player also had heart disease and depression brought about by alcohol, the coroner's report said.

Emerson, the co-founder and keyboardist of progressive rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, was 71 years old.

Speaking to the Mail On Sunday, his long-term partner Mari Kawaguchi said the musician had been "tormented with worry" about an upcoming tour.

She explained he had suffered nerve damage to his right hand which affected his playing.

Media caption, A look at the career of Keith Emerson

"He had an operation a few years ago to take out a bad muscle but the pain and nerve issues in his right hand were getting worse," she said.,

"He didn't want to let down his fans. He was a perfectionist and the thought he wouldn't play perfectly made him depressed, nervous and anxious."

Kawaguchi discovered Emerson's body last Friday morning when she returned to the apartment the couple shared in Santa Monica, Los Angeles.

Tribute concert

His death was announced by band-mate Carl Palmer, who called him "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 has since stated he is organising a tribute concert for Emerson later this year.

"This I feel, is the very least I can do to honour Keith's talent and musicianship in the best way I know."

Emerson was known as one of the most technically-accomplished and flamboyant keyboard players of his generation.

Born in Yorkshire, he began playing the Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer in his teenage years and backed US singer PP Arnold as a member of The Nice from 1967.

Three years later, he founded the prog rock supergroup Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The band went on to sell millions of albums, including Brain Salad Surgery and Tarkus - whose title track acted as a showcase for Emerson's prowess.

In addition to his time with ELP, the musician released both solo albums and film scores, including Dario Argento's 1980 horror film Inferno and the 1981 Sylvester Stallone thriller Nighthawks.

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