Carl Palmer (ELP, ASIA)
English Drummer and percussionist Carl Frederick Palmer was born 20 March 1950. He is credited as one of the most respected rock drummers to emerge from the 1960s and is a veteran of a number of famous English bands, including The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Asia. Palmer began taking drum lessons as a young boy, travelling to Denman Street, Piccadilly. His first band, with others from the Midlands area, was originally known as the King Bees, but changed its name to the Craig. They made their first record, “I Must Be Mad”, produced by Larry Page, in 1966; the flip side was “Suspense”. Palmer also did session work, playing on the song “Love Light” by the Chants, a group from Liverpool. In 1966, he was invited to join Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds.
Carl Palmer was recruited as a replacement drummer for the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, after the original drummer Drachen Theaker abruptly left the band during a U.S. tour in 1969 becoming a permanent band member until he left with Vincent Crane, the keyboard player with the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, to form Atomic Rooster, with vocalist/bassist Nick Graham, and their first album was released in early 1970. Meanwhile, Palmer received a call from Keith Emerson to audition for a new group and left Atomic Rooster in the summer of 1970.
Palmer met up with two other young English musicians, Greg Lake, and Keith Emerson. Emerson had most recently been a member of the Nice, and Lake was in King Crimson, and both wanted to further expand their musical creativity. After auditioning several drummers, including Mitch Mitchell, they felt an “immediate chemistry” with Palmer, and by the summer of 1970 they had formed a band. In naming the new group, the trio chose their surname|last names alphabetically – Emerson, Lake & Palmer, also shortened to ELP. The band has been the most successful of his career, and he remained with ELP until they first disbanded in 1980. They developed a sound that merged art rock, jazz, electronica, pop rock and classical music and found fans within their peers and the public alike. During that time Palmer released only one single as a solo artist but went on to develop a solo career, alongside ELP and his other future bands. During the latter part of 1981, Palmer played drums on the Mike Oldfield album Five Miles Out, including the song “Mount Teide”. Other recordings that Palmer did with Oldfield, such as “Ready Mix,” remained unreleased until 2001. Emerson, Lake & Palmer subsequently reunited in the early 1990s and played the progressive rock circuit, especially in outdoor summer concerts. Following the deaths of Emerson in March 2016 and Lake in December 2016, Palmer is the only surviving member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Following the first break-up of ELP in 1980, Palmer formed PM with Texas blues rock guitarist John Nitzinger for one album before joining John Wetton and Steve Howe in early 1981, who had been brought together to form a new super-group. They were later joined by Geoff Downes to form Asia. Palmer left Asia in 1991 to join the ELP reunion. After several personnel changes the four founder members of Asia including Palmer reunited in 2006. Palmer was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1989.
Palmer has performed a series of drum clinics across the UK, Europe and United States. Highlights of Palmer’s live drum solo over the years have included the use of both gongs and tambourines. Palmer is also a patron of the British ‘Classic Rock Society’, which promotes Progressive Rock concerts. In 2006 Palmer reunited with the original line-up of Asia to celebrate their 25th anniversary. They have since released four new studio albums, Phoenix, in 2008, Omega in 2010, XXX (30) in 2012, and Gravitas in 2014. A live album and DVD from the 2006 reunion tour, entitled Fantasia was released by Eagle Rock Records. In 2013, Palmer embarked on a world tour that included shows in South and North America, and Europe with him on drums and percussion, guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist Simon Fitzpatrick. In 2014 Carl Palmer appeared on the second annual Moody Blues Cruise, on the cruise ship MSC Ship Divina Performing instrumental versions of many of ELP’s hits. He also embarked on “The 2014 Rhythm of Light Tour”, a 19-date North America tour billed as “Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy”, and in2016 Palmer embarked on “Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy Tour 2016”, a 25-date North American tour. As of 7 December 2016, following the death of Greg Lake, Palmer is the only surviving member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer.