Greg Lake: Heed Schizoid Man Warning
King Crimson co-founder Greg Lake says the band’s signature track 21st Century Schizoid Man carries a warning that’s as valid today as it was when they wrote it in 1969.
And the former ELP member reveals he doesn’t want to be tied to the prog rock label for what remains of his career.
Lake, who started Crimson alongside Robert Fripp, tells Audioholics: “I think there’s a relevance. You only have to listen to see it’s relevant today. It feels like it was written today.
“It’s a warning that 21st-century man could become a very unpleasant thing if we’re not careful. We have to think about where we’re going. You listen to the words and it’s not the way you want the world to go.
“That’s why I like Barack Obama – he’s trying to put some good back in the world, and God bless him for it.”
Lake accepts his career is coming to an end, although he resists the suggestion it’s “winding down,” arguing: “I perform at 100%. I don’t want to give anyone the impression I’m working at 20%.”
And while the prog genre has been good to him, he doesn’t want to feel as if he’s trapped inside it. That’s the reason he refused an invitation to take part in Yes’s Cruise To The Edge festival voyage.
“They tried to put me on it but I didn’t want to be involved in all that,” he says. “There are a lot of the boys on that tour that I like. But I’m trying to be myself. I don’t want to be bound up in sort of some movement.
“I’m very grateful to the whole prog-rock thing. But I’m bigger than that Before I was into prog I was playing all kinds of music. I’d like to get back to some of that – I’d like to open my career out again to be a bit broader.
“I’ll never be able to escape it – and nor will I want to – but I do want to enjoy some of the music that I was kept apart from during those prog years.”
Meanwhile, ELP ex-bandmate Keith Emerson has recalled how the band decided on their title.
He recently told an audience at the Chiller Theater Expo in New Jersey: “I think the other two wanted a group name, but none of them were that satisfactory. So I said, ‘Let’s just call it by our own names. Our last names, you know: Emerson, Lake and Palmer.’
“And they looked at me and said, ‘Why should your name come first?’
“I quickly thought about it and said, ‘It’s alphabetical order,’ so as to avoid any arguments. But Palmer, Lake and Emerson doesn’t sit very well, does it?”