The 66-year-old drummer is still very agile. Carl Palmer wasn't only active with ELP either, but had already drummed with Atomic Rooster and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown at the end of the sixties. He is currently flying between his own band Carl Palmer's ELP Legacy and Asia. Stuck in a traffic jam, the interview has to be postponed by a few days. Once on the phone, Palmer proves himself to be a British gentleman of the old school: he apologizes with impulsion, is polite and accommodating. And he's alive and kicking, his answers coming out of the gun.
eclipsed: After the death of Greg Lake you are the last living member of ELP. How would you describe the legacy of the band?
Carl Palmer: First of all, ELP were one of the most successful bands driven by keyboards. Lots of keyboards, hardly any guitar. Moreover, their musical approach was strictly European. We didn't do typical blues, jazz or rock, but something that was new, based on classical adaptations. That seemed to work wonderfully. But it wasn't completely new: a French pianist named Jacques Loussier had probably already done this before. With his jazz trio he played exclusively Bach in jazz style. We've adapted classic things like "Pictures At An Exhibition" by Mussorgsky, "Hoedown" and "Fanfare For The Common Man" by Copland. Even "Carmina Burana" by Carl Orff. Everything interpreted and presented in a European rock format.
eclipsed: And also the stage presentation was own.
Palmer: When we went to the USA, we were really completely different. We were probably the first to do this with great, modern technological effort, i.e. with huge Moog synthesizers. It was very interesting for ourselves. We had a singer who didn't come across like a typical rock shouter, but rather like a choir singer. Very English. The lyrics were also unusual. We were virtuoso players. So I guess our legacy is this: We did it our own way!
eclipsed: What was the special quality of the live band ELP?
Palmer: You have to understand: No one ever put such big shows on stage back then. When ELP went to the USA, I said that we give the audience as much as possible, as the Americans say, eye candy. So we rotated my drumset, Keith had already rammed knives into his organ. We also had projections, a great lightshow and even a first rudimentary quadrophony sound. But the English press had just said that it was all over the top. They called it sabre rattling. If you compare that with today, with bands like U2 or the Stones, it was nothing. But we were labeled extravagant at the time. Three big trucks with our name letters - hey, that was nothing compared to today! Only we were the ones who started it.