On This Day (August 31)…ELP Crossing the Finish Line

Emerson, Lake & Palmer performed on this day in 1998 at 4th & B in San Diego, California.

Ticket for the show. Retrieved from here.

This concert came at the tail end of ELP’s 1998 Tour. The day before, they had had their final concert with Dream Theater and Deep Purple. The tour, while fairly short, received a great deal of acclaim. While my main source while researching the full tour was this Deep Purple-based source, there was still plenty of praise for ELP from listeners. Another thing many reviewers noted was that the three members of the group seemed to be getting along fairly well onstage.

For this final tour together, ELP brought out a fairly eclectic setlist. Black Moon and In the Hot Seat, the two albums from the 90s, were not at all represented. However, the band did include a track intended for their next album, “Crossing the Rubicon”. “A Time and a Place”, a rarer number from the group, also showed up on the setlist. So did “The Sheriff”, which had not seen a stage performance since the early 70s. Another surprise was “21st Century Schizoid Man”. ELP had rerecorded this song for their Return of the Manticore box set earlier in the decade, but did not often perform the song.

The rest of the setlist featured some of their most popular numbers, such as “Lucky Man”, “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2”, and “Fanfare for the Common Man”. “Tarkus” also returned in its entirety.

This concert is known to have been recorded, and is in circulation online.


Emerson, Lake & Palmer broke up less than six months after this concert. Greg Lake first announced he would be resigning on December 1. Over the years, the main reason behind this split has been pinned on his insistence on producing the band’s next album. He has claimed this was due to his dislike of the In the Hot Seat‘s producer and his confidence that he could do better. He also suggested later that certain events around this time made it clear to him that the great chemistry the band had once had in the 70s could never truly be recaptured, and thus it was time to move on.

Comments from the other two members have ascribed far less noble motivations to Lake’s requests, namely either a desire for greater credit (ironically, something he himself accused other members of, namely suggesting Keith Emerson wanted an “executive producer” credit for the next album if Lake were to produce) or a demand he knew the other two would refuse so he could walk away from the band feeling vindicated.

Keith Emerson also later suggested that Lake’s deteriorating voice also had something to do with the band’s dissolution. However, Lake sounded fairly good on the 1998 tour; either there was something going on behind the scenes, or there were some sour grapes between the members. Either way, for the time being, ELP came to an end.

All three members of the group intermittently toured with self-titled bands throughout the 2000s. Carl Palmer took the stage earliest with his self-titled act and went on tour every year of the decade beginning in 2001. Keith Emerson was the second-busiest with his self-titled band. Greg Lake only went on tour a single year, 2005.

The three ex-members of the group took part in several other projects in this time. Carl Palmer returned to Asia, his other major music project, midway through the decade, when Asia’s original lineup reconvened. The group began touring and even returned to the studio in 2008.

File:Asia - Phoenix (2008) front cover.jpg
Cover of Phoenix, the first Asia album to feature Carl Palmer, since he returned to ELP in 1992. Retrieved from here.

Greg Lake joined Ringo’s All-Starr band in 2001 alongside such varied performers as Ian Hunter, Sheila E., and Roger Hodgson. As an apparent lifelong Beatles fan, Lake was very pleased with the offer!

Keith Emerson wrote his final film score, that for Godzilla: Final Wars; Daisuke Yano and Nobuhiko Morino also contributed tracks. The title track of the movie was a slightly rearranged take on “Crossing the Rubicon”, giving ELP’s last song its fifteen minutes of fame.

ELP finally reunited for one last concert in 2010. It was preceded by a short tour involving Keith Emerson and Greg Lake in the spring of that year.

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