Keith Emerson Explains Prog Awards ‘Banger Or Scraper’ Story
Keith Emerson has revealed the full story behind the “banger or scraper” story he recounted at the inaugural Progressive Music Awards last month.
The keyboardist shared his recollection of meeting Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, before presenting the Virtuoso award to ELP bandmate Carl Palmer.
Now he’s explained the background to Geoff Barton, editor-at-large of Prog Magazine’s sister title Classic Rock.
Emerson says: “I was invited to play at the Golden Jubilee, somewhere in Piccadilly. It was the Royal Academy or something like that, along with some very important jazz musicians.
“It was great. Everybody turned up, all the dames: Dame Vera Lynn, Dame Edna, Dame Shirley Bassey. There was a whole load of people from the entertainment industry – Brian May, Kate Bush.
“Harvey Goldsmith said to me: ‘You’re in line to be presented to Her Majesty The Queen.’ So I stood in line and she asked me a few questions. ‘What do you play?’
“I replied, ‘Well, ma’am, tonight I’ve been playing piano and I also play synthesisers.’ She didn’t know anything about synthesisers. She just said: ‘Synthesisers?!’ If I’d spoken to her about horses I might have kept her attention, but she just turned away.
“Next in line was His Royal Highness The Duke Of Edinburgh. He’d already been talking to a jazz quartet and he said: ‘Do you play with this lot?’
“I said, ‘No sir, I’m playing solo.’ He asked me: ‘Do you bang, or do you scrape?’ I said: ‘Well sir, with a piano being a member of the percussive department, I suppose I bang.’
“So he said: ‘Well, keep on banging, then,’ and he just walked off. He’s a very funny guy.
“He asked Harvey Goldsmith: ‘Is your beard on or off? That’s not a beard.’ He pointed to some seafaring captain type over in the corner and said: ‘Now look at him – that’s a beard!’
“It got funnier. Barry Humphries – Dame Edna – was talking to the Queen and she said how nervous she was about the Jubilee concert being held in Buckingham Palace, because there were a lot of rare plants, and also the lawn, which was very beautiful.
“Barry Humphries said: ‘Your lawn? Your lawn’s history! Furthermore, you’ll be able to hear the noise all the way to Windsor Castle.’ Very, very funny.”