Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess has paid tribute to late ELP icon Keith Emerson, saying his style of playing changed his life.
Emerson committed suicide earlier this month aged 71.
And Rudess reports that he was lining up a career as a professional classical pianist until he heard ELP’s 1971 album Tarkus for the first time.
Rudess tells Freqs TV: “This has been a major, sad event in my life because it was completely unexpected. Keith was my keyboard hero. He really was the person who I looked up to. His music changed my path of life.
“I was deeply in the classical path – I was going to be a professional classical pianist. I was going into the college division at The Julliard School. But I waved goodbye because I was already into synthesisers and Tarkus – I was into other things that didn’t relate at all to what I had been doing.”
Rudess says that Emerson “opened the door” for him to explore a different type of music and adds: “The Emerson thing hit me like a ton of bricks because this person that was not only my keyboard hero became a friend of mine.
“It’s something I’ll be thinking about for a long time because he left too early, he left us with all this amazing music. Whenever my hands touch the keyboard I’m going to think of him.”
Emerson’s ELP colleague Carl Palmer recently announced his upcoming North American tour would be in honour of the keyboardist.
Dream Theater released their latest album The Astonishing earlier this year. They’ve just wrapped up a run of shows in Europe and will hit the road across North America next month.
Dream Theater 2016 tour dates
Apr 14: Quebec City Le Capitole De Quebec, QC
Apr 15: Montreal Bell Centre, QC
Apr 16: Toronto Sony Centre, ON
Apr 18: Albany Palace Theatre, NY
Apr 19: Boston Orpheum Theater, MA
Apr 20: Wallingford Oakdale Theatre, CT
Apr 23: New York Radio City Music Hall, NY
Apr 26: Greensburg Palace Theatre, PA
Apr 27: Cincinnati Taft Theatre, OH
Apr 30: Chicago Theatre, IL
May 01: Minneapolis State Theatre, MN
May 03: Denver Paramount Theatre, CO
May 07: Los Angeles Wiltern, CA
May 10: Portland Schnitzer Auditorium, OR
May 11: Seattle Paramount Theatre, WA