Rock star Keith Emerson killed himself because he feared he was no longer good enough as a musician, his girlfriend exclusively told The Mail on Sunday last night.
The 71-year-old founder and keyboard player of Emerson, Lake and Palmer was ‘tormented with worry’ about upcoming concerts in Japan because nerve damage to a hand had affected his playing, said Mari Kawaguchi.
She found Emerson’s body when she returned to the apartment the couple shared in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, early on Friday morning.
He had shot himself with a gun he kept for protection.
‘Keith wasn’t feeling well on Thursday night. He had bronchitis so I tucked him up in bed,’ said Kawaguchi, 52.
‘He was sleeping when I left and I thought he was sleeping when I got back, but then I realised what had happened. He was gone. I am still in total shock.
‘His right hand and arm had given him problems for years. 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.
‘He had concerts coming up in Japan and even though they hired a back-up keyboard player to support him, Keith was worried.
‘He read all the criticism online and was a sensitive soul. Last year he played concerts and people posted mean comments such as, ‘I wish he would stop playing.’
‘He was tormented with worry that he wouldn’t be good enough. He was planning to retire after Japan.
‘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.’
ELP, with drummer Carl Palmer and vocalist/guitarist Greg Lake, were progressive rock giants in the 1970s. Their hit albums included Brain Salad Surgery and Pictures At An Exhibition.