Emerson, Lake & Palmer were progressive rock's first supergroup. They succeeded in broadening the audience for progressive rock from hundreds of thousands into tens of millions of listeners, creating a major radio phenomenon as well. Their flamboyance on record and in the studio proved that classical rockers could compete for that arena-scale audience, paving the way for bands like Yes. Upon officially teaming in 1970, keyboardist Keith Emerson (formerly of the Nice) and singer/bassist Greg Lake (ex-King Crimson) auditioned several drummers before they approached Carl Palmer, a former member of the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. The group's self-titled debut album was released in November 1970 and was an instant success. The title track of their second album, 1971's Tarkus, was an extended suite that ultimately defined the ELP sound as most people understood it — loud, dense, and bombastic, somewhat gloomy in its lyrical tone, and exultant in its instrumental power.
After Tarkus hit number one on the English charts and reached the Top Ten in America, a concert featuring the group's adaptation of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition was recorded for release, and became another major hit. 1972's Trilogy found each member taking an equal share of musical responsibility. Brain Salad Surgery was released in 1973 on their own record label, Manticore. Their string of successes came to a halt with 1977's Works; at the time, each member was feeling constrained by the presence of the others, and the resulting album consisted of three solo sides and a collaborative fourth side. Works fared poorly and destroyed ELP's unity, and their main motivation for recording seemed only to be their contractual obligations. Plus, the public's taste was changing — extended suites, conceptual rock albums, and classical-rock fusion seemed hopelessly ponderous and pretentious with the rise of punk rock and disco. ELP split up in 1979, but reunited in 1991 for an album called Black Moon, followed by a fairly successful tour. However, Emerson developed of a repetitive stress disorder in one hand, which required surgery and restricted the group's ability to record or perform. He died in March 2016 at the age of 71. Nine months after Emerson's death, Greg Lake died in December of that same year at the age of 69.