Musician Keith Emerson of the group Emerson Lake and Palmer is seen at handprints ceremony for singer Joe Cocker (not shown) in Hollywood, California in this April 1, 1998 file photo. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files
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Keith Emerson, the flamboyant yet accomplished keyboardist who pioneered the use of synthesizers in rock music, was found dead Friday in an apparent suicide.Emerson studied classical piano as a child in England and eventually took up the Hammond organ as he became intrigued by jazz.But Emerson's career -- and, to an extent, the trajectory of rock -- changed when he heard the influential 1968 album "Switched-On Bach" by Wendy Carlos, who performed classical pieces on the Moog synthesizer.Emerson was considered the first to make the synthesizer a central rock instrument on its own, taking it on tour.After his band The Nice disbanded in 1970, the keyboardist joined percussionist Palmer and singer and guitarist Greg Lake to form Emerson, Lake and Palmer, which became a force in 1970s progressive rock, a genre that emphasized advanced musical structure.An accomplished keyboardist in the classical mold, the normally courtly Emerson said he was offended that several orchestra members openly put in earplugs and two left the stage.
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