CRAS Grad’s Resume Written in Platinum & Gold

Katz’ only goal as an engineer was to receive one Platinum Album in his lifetime. He achieved that in less than three years after graduating CRAS.

Case Study – April 6, 2020

Early on in his childhood, Robert Katz realized he had a love for music. He just never realized it was ingrained in his DNA. And now, he gratefully thanks his parents and grandparents for the Platinum and Gold records on his resume.

The son of a serviceman, Katz was born on Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines in 1988. When his father’s service ended later that year, the family moved to Orlando, Fla. where they stayed for the next nine years. His grandparents were only a couple hours away, so the immediate family unit was close, and he points to his grandparent’s old out-of-tune upright piano as the starting point for his love for music and, ultimately, his career.

Robert Katz

The family moved to Las Vegas, Nev. in 1997, where Katz began paying even closer attention to music. “Growing up, my first love was playing baseball,” Katz said. “Music had been slowly taking over that passion for years, so I finally made the pivotal decision to quit baseball, and strictly focus on music and, specifically, music production.”

He explained that his father was the kind of guy that would buy all of the latest home stereo equipment and spend hours tweaking it to sound as good as possible. “I guess I inherited the sonic-tweakhead mentality from my dad,” he joked.

Katz also then became more aware of just how musically inclined many in his family were. “My mom played piano and sang and my dad played guitar and saxophone,” he reminisced. “So, anytime I showed any interest in music, my parents were extremely helpful and supportive. I found out later in life that my great uncle was a drummer, my grandfather on my dad’s side played guitar, and my grandfather on my mom’s side played trumpet. You could say that music kind of ran in the family.”

The aforementioned out-of-tune piano in his grandparent’s house was just the beginning. “At age four I’d pull out the ‘piano for beginners’ books and spend hours trying to learn what notes were, how to read music on the most basic level, and I’d get excited every time that I was able to play a phrase correctly. My love for music continued by singing in a couple school talent shows in elementary school, and I found myself playing any instrument that I could get my hands on. I eventually learned to read music with ease. My dad gave me my first electric guitar for my 11th birthday. I took lessons, started writing my own songs, and played in bands.”

Between the love of both gear and music, Katz’ progression to make a career in the engineering side of the business was beginning to take shape.

“When I was 16, my band wanted to record a demo,” he said. “We went to a local kid’s home studio, and that’s what sparked my interest in recording. After that experience, I bought my first DAW, Cakewalk Home Studio 2 XL. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was exciting. After three years of learning and experimenting on my own, I decided that I wanted to pursue music production as a career.”

Katz had expressed this interest in attending a recording school to his friends. One of them had a friend who had attended The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS), and who was then working at a studio in Los Angeles. After doing a little research, it seemed like the perfect place for Katz.

“Living in Las Vegas, I had my eye on The Studio at the Palms located at The Palms Hotel and Resort after I discovered that one of the albums I had was recorded there,” he explained. “I looked up the studio’s equipment and realized that if ever wanted to work there, I would need to know how to use large format consoles and tape machines. It didn’t take a lot of research to realize that CRAS was the best place for hands on learning. The school’s emphasis put on analog recording in the curriculum was exactly what I needed if I wanted to work in a world class studio. After learning that CRAS taught exactly what I needed to learn, had the equipment I needed to learn on, wasn’t too long of a program, was relatively inexpensive, as well as provided internship placement assistance…it was a no-brainer.

So, Katz applied to CRAS and was accepted.

CRAS, Katz said, is as close to a perfect learning environment as possible. “The teachers are experienced engineers that not only know, but actually use what they’re teaching us. Prioritizing knowledge and concepts in the curriculum is perfectly tailored toward an actual understanding of real-world audio workflow…from the most basic concepts to the most advanced techniques. CRAS expands upon your current knowledge while providing extra courses and certification programs to keep you learning and engaged throughout the program. The ability to have hours and hours of hands-on experience, run real sessions and, most importantly, make mistakes and learn from them, sets CRAS apart from any other program out there. Adding the required internship with placement-assistance guarantees an all-encompassing experience only available when you attend CRAS.”

Kratz graduated CRAS in April 2008 after interning The Mix Room in Burbank, Calif. He then set his sights back on The Studio at The Palms.

“I called The Studio at the Palms immediately following my internship,” Katz explained. “I spoke directly with Zoe Thrall, the director. She was in the process of hiring a new production assistant and I ended up getting the job along with another CRAS graduate. I lucked out because nobody had been hired there for a year and a half prior, and nobody was hired for year and a half after I started. I know that being a CRAS graduate gave me the edge I needed to get the position over the other applicants. I landed my dream job at The Studio at the Palms, and that’s where I stayed for more than 11 years working my way up to engineer.”

At the beginning of 2020, Katz ventured out on his own, crediting the experiences and opportunities acquired through being one of the head engineers at such a prestigious studio.

Katz’ only goal as an engineer was to receive one Platinum Album in his lifetime. He achieved that in less than three years after graduating CRAS.

And now, Katz’ resume is one any engineer would love to boast, including working on 4x Platinum single with Ellie Goulding for Burn, 2x Platinum album with Rihanna’s Loud, Platinum single with Britney Spears’ Make Me, Platinum album with Zayn’s Mind of Mine, Gold Album with Jason Derulo’s Future History, Gold Album with Madonna’s MDNA, 2x Platinum Album with Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions, Platinum Single with Imagine Dragons’s It’s Time, Platinum Album with both Ellie Goulding’s Delirium and Halcyon, and has worked with many more top artists.

What advice does he have for CRAS students? Listen!

“CRAS gives you every tool you need to enter the world of audio,” he said. “Once you leave CRAS, you will be among people who have been working in the industry for decades. Look at these people as your next level of education. They know how to survive in one of the most competitive, ever-evolving industries in the world. Every person that you meet will have a unique experience and outlook that you can learn from. Never be too arrogant to learn from those around you. Remember, learning what you don’t like about someone’s workflow or approach is equally as beneficial as learning what you do like. The entire field of audio is based on your ability to listen.”

Not everyone wants to be in the music business. Some want to be in video games, post for movies and television, broadcast, live events, etc. Whatever the case may be, Katz concluded, “If you set goals, work hard, and sprinkle in a little luck here and there, you’re going to have a long career.”

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About The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences

The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences is composed of two nearby campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, Ariz. A CRAS education includes broadcast audio, live sound, film and TV audio, music, and video game audio, all taught by award-winning instructors who have all excelled in their individual fields, including sound reinforcement, audio recording and production, digital recording, troubleshooting/maintenance, and music business.

CRAS structured programs and highly qualified teaching staff provide a professional and supportive atmosphere, which is complemented by its small class sizes allowing for individual instruction and assistance for students in engineering audio recordings. CRAS has been providing quality vocational training in audio recording for more than three decades. The curriculum and equipment are constantly being updated to keep pace with the rapid advancements in the music and sound recording industries. CRAS’ course offerings and subject matter have always centered around the skills and knowledge necessary for students’ success in the audio recording industries.

The 11-month program is designed to allow every student access to learn and train in all of the Conservatory’s studios which are comprised with state-of-the-art audio recording and mixing gear, the same equipment used in today’s finest studios and remote broadcast facilities, including Pro Tools 12, API Legacy consoles, SSL AWS consoles, Studer Vista consoles, and much more. All students must complete a 280-hour industry internship to graduate from the Master Recording Program II that may ultimately lead to industry employment.

For more information on the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences, please visit, contact Kirt Hamm, administrator, at 1-800-562-6383, or email to


from KeyboardMag


AES Vienna Convention Canceled for May 2020

— Plans are underway for a virtualization of the Convention Technical Program —

New York, NY — With the health and safety of our attendees, membership, exhibitors, and staff being of utmost concern during the global COVID-19 pandemic, and following weeks of discussions with the host Austria Center Vienna, the Audio Engineering Society has officially canceled the live, in-person components of the AES Vienna 2020 Convention scheduled for May.

AES leadership, the Convention organizing committee and headquarters staff members are working diligently to organize the logistics of a virtualization of the Convention technical program into an engaging, compelling, educational and productive online experience.

Details on the virtual Convention, which are being developed to include video presentations of Papers, Workshops, Tutorials, Tech Tours and other technical program content along with live- and forum-based dialog with presenters, will be shared as they become available. We appreciate your patience and understanding as the myriad of options and details are finalized.

from KeyboardMag


Pianist and Educator Ellis Marsalis Dies at 85

Famed New Orleans pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis Jr., the patriarch of New Orleans’ storied Marsalis family has died at the age of 85 after being hospitalized with symptoms of coronavirus.

According to, Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a statement Wednesday night on his passing.

“Ellis Marsalis was a legend,” she said. “He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz. The love and the prayers of all of our people go out to his family, and to all of those whose lives he touched. He was a teacher, a father, and an icon … This loss cuts us deeply.”

from KeyboardMag


SSL Presents Audio Technology Seminar to CRAS Students at Gilbert, Ariz. Campus

George Horton, Solid State Logic Vice President, Western Region, Presented the Latest in Broadcast & Live Sound Audio Console Technology to CRAS’ AES Chapter

George Horton, SSL Vice President, Western Region, recently visited CRAS’s Gilbert, Ariz. campus to present the latest in audio technology to CRAS’ AES student chapter.

Gilbert, Ariz., March 30, 2020 – Solid State Logic and the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences’ (CRAS;, the premier institution for audio engineering education, have a long professional working history together.

Recently, this partnership took another step forward in educating the next crop of audio engineers when Solid State Logic’s George Horton, Vice President, Western Region, visited CRAS’s Gilbert, Ariz. campus to present the latest in audio technology to CRAS’ AES student chapter.

“We work in a time of rapidly changing technology within the live and broadcast sectors of audio, and we at SSL are happy to share our experience from the front lines,” explained Horton, who utilized and discussed the SSL Live L100, a patented multicore processor, 96 kHz, up to 472 I/O, live sound console during his presentation. “At SSL, we have had a long relationship with CRAS and know how professional and relevant their teaching and courses are. It is our pleasure to have an opportunity to be associated with such a well regarded program that produces sought after talent.”

Horton began his presentation with an oral tour of SSL’s history and legacy dating back to 1969, including the significance of their product line over the years. He then went on to educate and stress the importance of networking and the future of audio.

“We were all very pleased when George reached out about wanting to stop by CRAS to demo the SSL Live L100 console,” said David Kohr, CRAS AES Faculty Advisor. “This gave our students a chance to learn about the specifications of the console and to get ‘hands-on’ with the L100. George took the time to answer all of the student’s questions. It’s events like this that make a CRAS education so much more unique and we look forward to future events with SSL.”

Horton added that it was a very well attended meeting with an engaged and serious group of students. “These students obviously understand how best to make the best of opportunities afforded them by CRAS, and it was great to have challenging and sensible questions,” he said. “I personally always enjoy the opportunity to present to students as it allows you to assess your own knowledge and pre-conceptions as you get questions from different perspectives.”

Horton concluded that nothing beats education. “It is an invaluable opportunity as it can provide necessary building blocks to a fulfilling and successful future. The world of audio is not immune to the rapid pace of technology updates and so getting students a head start on this path is essential. A great program not only equips students with pure facts and practical knowledge but also shapes how to think, and this will be useful for students whatever future career path they end up taking.”

Solid State Logic has offices in Los Angeles and New York and other major markets worldwide. The company’s focus is professional audio production and has a storied history of over 50 years that covers music production, broadcast, and live sound. SSL is known for outstanding ergonomics, amazing sound, and the best support in the business.

The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences is composed of two nearby campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, Ariz. A CRAS education includes broadcast audio, live sound, film and TV audio, music, and video game audio, all taught by award-winning instructors who have all excelled in their individual fields, including sound reinforcement, audio recording and production, digital recording, troubleshooting/maintenance, and music business.

CRAS structured programs and highly qualified teaching staff provide a professional and supportive atmosphere, which is complemented by its small class sizes allowing for individual instruction and assistance for students in engineering audio recordings. CRAS has been providing quality vocational training in audio recording for more than three decades. The curriculum and equipment are constantly being updated to keep pace with the rapid advancements in the music and sound recording industries. CRAS’ course offerings and subject matter have always centered around the skills and knowledge necessary for students’ success in the audio recording industries.

The 11-month program is designed to allow every student access to learn and train in all of the Conservatory’s studios which are comprised with state-of-the-art audio recording and mixing gear, the same equipment used in today’s finest studios and remote broadcast facilities, including Pro Tools 12, API Legacy consoles, SSL AWS consoles, Studer Vista consoles, and much more. All students must complete a 280-hour industry internship to graduate from the Master Recording Program II that may ultimately lead to industry employment.

For more information on the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences, please visit, contact Kirt Hamm, administrator, at 1-800-562-6383, or email to

About The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences

Based in the heart of The Valley of the Sun with two campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, Ariz., The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS) is one of the country’s premier institutions for audio education. The Conservatory has developed a unique and highly effective way to help the future audio professional launch their careers in the recording industry and other related professional audio categories.


from KeyboardMag


64 Audio Issued Its Second U.S. Patent

U.S. Patent #10,555,067 Issued Feb. 4, 2020 for the Company’s Method for Making 3D-Printed Housings for In-Ear Monitors (IEMs)

VANCOUVER, Wash., March 26, 2020 – 64 Audio, the leader in custom and universal fit in-ear monitors, is proud to announce that it has been awarded its second patent. U.S. Patent #10,555,067 was issued on Feb. 4, 2020 for the company’s method for making advanced 3D-printed housings for in-ear monitors (IEMs).

U.S. Patent #10,555,067 Issued Feb. 4, 2020 for the Company’s Method for Making 3D-Printed Housings for In-Ear Monitors (IEMs)

“We are very proud to receive this patent, which further solidifies 64 Audio as the leader in the in-ear monitor category,” explained Vitaliy Belonozhko, 64 Audio founder and Chief Technical Officer. “This method of manufacturing IEM shells is critical in achieving the sound quality for which 64 Audio has become famous. The patent also allows us to advance our innovations into fully tubeless fitting products.”

This new patent is based upon 64 Audio’s ability to incorporate acoustical tuning features within an IEM’s shell. This technology allows designs to be built that would be otherwise impossible using current traditional IEM design methodology. By incorporating features into the shell, 64 Audio can manufacture advanced and uniquely complex features that manipulate the audio produced by the IEM.

From studio to stage to sophisticated home audio environments, 64 Audio has created the industry’s most innovative universal and custom-built in-ear monitors available to date. Founded by Vitaliy Belonozhko in 2010, a sound engineer who has been working with musicians and production companies for nearly two decades, he discovered the advantages of IEMs over traditional floor “wedges” and recognized that a better solution to in-ear monitoring was needed. Today, 64 Audio supplies products worldwide to some of the best-known musicians, singers, and engineers in the world, as well as discerning audiophiles who demand nothing but the best sound reproduction from their systems. With new and unrivaled technologies such as apex, LID™, tia™ and 3D-Fit™, 64 Audio excels in challenging traditional earphone designs to bring to market unique and innovative audio products.

For more information on 64 Audio, please visit

About 64 Audio

64 Audio was founded by Vitaliy Belonozhko, a sound engineer who has been working with musicians and production companies for nearly two decades. He discovered the advantages of IEMs over traditional floor “wedges” and recognized that a better solution to in-ear monitoring was needed. Today, with a staff of over 70 people and a team of some of the best minds, 64 Audio has become the most innovative in-ear monitor manufacturer in the industry, supplying products worldwide and to some of the best-known bands and engineers in the world. With new and unrivaled technologies such as apex, LID, and tia, 64 Audio excels in challenging traditional earphone designs to bring-to-market unique and innovative audio products.

# # #

from KeyboardMag


CRAS Grads Land Dream Jobs at The Studio at The Palms in Las Vegas

Former Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences Students Jaramiah Rios and Jason Patterson Now Work with Zoe Thrall, Recording Industry Luminary and Director of Operations at The Studio at The Palms

(l-r) Jaramiah Rios, Zoe Thrall, and Jason “JayBull” Patterson at The Studio at The Palms. (credit: CRL Public Relations)

LAS VEGAS, Nev., March 11, 2020 – Launching and building a career usually requires a great deal of patience and persistence.

As Jaramiah Rios and Jason “JayBull” Patterson began their journey, they found that the right education had already stacked a few cards in their favor. Both are graduates of the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS), which places them in the company of alumni who have earned every award from Gold and Platinum Record certifications to Oscars, GRAMMYs, Tonys, and Emmys.

Today, the two are employed at The Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas. Alongside acclaimed industry veteran Zoe Thrall as director of studio operations, they are engineering for some of the brightest stars in the music industry. This state-of-the-art recording facility nestled in the Palms Casino Resort opened as a first-of-its-kind studio in Las Vegas in late 2005. Attracting artists on the level of Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Maroon 5, and The Killers, The Studio at the Palms already boasts four GRAMMY Awards, 12 Platinum Records, and 30 million copies sold.

After graduating from CRAS, Rios began an intensive search for a paid internship at a live sound company. Like many recent grads, he was willing to gamble that his performance as an intern would pay off with an offer of a permanent position from a desirable employer. However, Rios hit the jackpot before the game even started. “One day on a whim I came across the position for a production assistant at the Studio at the Palms,” he said. “I went for it and got the job!”

Rios has been an engineer at the Studio at the Palms for five years now, working with hit-makers such as Paula Abdul, Blake Shelton, Chaka Khan, Wale, PnB Rock, and many others. He is currently ordering his first Gold Record certification plaque for Summer Walker’s album Over It.

Patterson’s gateway to the Studio at the Palms opened 12 years ago. He currently has a RIAA certified Gold and Platinum Record plaque for the Beyoncé 4 album, a Gold Record plaque for Rick Ross featuring Jay-Z in “Devil is a Lie,” and a Latin GRAMMY for J Balvin’s Vibras. The short list of his additional credits includes such top recording artists as Celine Dion, Dionne Warwick, Marie Osmond, Boyz II Men, Britney Spears, and Jay-Z.

Describing his unique and somewhat creative path to The Studio at the Palms, Patterson goes back to the winter of 2007 when the MTV Awards were being held in his hometown of Las Vegas. “Palms Casino Resort hosted the event and it was the first time I found out that a recording studio of that caliber was even here,” he said. “The very next day I went to my CRAS internship coordinator and told her that my top choice was the Studio at the Palms.” When Patterson found out that the Studio does not accept interns, he began formulating a plan that might better his chances of landing his dream job.

“I went right to work to figure out who did the hiring,” Patterson said. “I was standing in the elevator lobby of the Studio one day when I met Zoe Thrall. We talked for a moment and then I set up a studio tour. On that day I came fully prepared with my book of accomplishments, CRAS transcripts, and all of the certifications I earned while at CRAS. My opportunity had arrived and my plan was playing out to pure perfection. An informal interview was happening right then, right there. As we completed the tour and were walking out, I asked Zoe to consider me for an interview if a position ever opened up—and the rest is history.”

Thrall’s own bio reads like a laundry list of remarkable achievements throughout her career, working with legendary musicians in epochal studios, helping them create some of the most popular and iconic music ever recorded. In addition to working at the Power Station in New York City where she assisted on many albums including Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Aerosmith’s Rock in a Hard Place, she is a seasoned musician in her own right. At Power Station she met producer/musician/actor Steven Van Zandt (E Street Band, Sopranos) and eventually joined his band, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, as oboist/keyboardist. She performed on five albums and traveled with the band on four world tours, including opening for U2 on The Joshua Tree Tour and Peter Gabriel on the So Tour.

Thrall returned to Power Station as vice president of studio operations in 1992 and facilitated ownership transition when the complex was renamed Avatar Studios under the Avatar Entertainment Corporation. The Hit Factory, one of the largest and most successful music recording studios in the world, made her president and general manager in 2001. In April 2005 Thrall was announced as the director of studio operations for The Studio at the Palms.

On an industry leadership level, Thrall is a member of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and has twice chaired the AES Convention in New York City. She is also a voting member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (GRAMMYs) and sits on the advisory board of the Producers & Engineers Wing of the Academy.

In light of Thrall’s professional accomplishments and depth of industry experience, her observations carry a great deal of weight. During the interview with Patterson, she was impressed with his genuine interest in and passion for the process of recording. “He had a good general background, primarily due to his education at CRAS, in Pro Tools, signal flow, and exposure to microphones and outboard equipment,” she said. “Jason has really grown as an engineer and as a person in the time he has been here. He is frequently requested for sessions and he is very good with the clients. I can count on him to be here any time, day or night, and he is truly committed to his craft.”

Thrall noted that Rios’ strong academic performance at CRAS also worked in his favor during employment consideration. “But grades and interests are not everything,” she said. “Jaramiah has what I refer to as a great ‘bedside manner.’ In other words, he is very friendly with clients and he really cares about their needs and comfort. I can always tell when he was the last one in a studio because the room is immaculate and perfectly put together. That’s what you want to see in a dedicated, committed employee. I wish I had 10 of him.”

Both Patterson and Rios agree with Thrall in giving credit to the right education as the foundation of their careers. “Before CRAS, I was an aspiring beat maker,” explained Patterson. “I first heard about CRAS through an engineer who introduced me to Pro Tools, and that’s what sparked my interest. Years later, I decided to attend CRAS and I was all in after touring the school. I must say it was everything I hoped it would be and more. They gave me all the audio I could handle and then some! After graduating from CRAS, I felt confident in my ability to speak the language of audio terms and perform the basics of signal flow and proper mic techniques.”

Working as a security guard prior to enrolling in CRAS, Patterson had the opportunity to meet Paul McCartney at The Beatles LOVE™ Cirque Du Soleil show. “The day I met Sir Paul McCartney, music forever changed for me,” Patterson said. “He showed me what being humble and appreciative to the art really was. Being able to converse with Sir Paul and the late Sir George Martin and his son Giles Martin was a game changer. I spoke with Giles and told him I wanted to go to CRAS to study audio engineering. He said I should just go to London and let him train me. He took out a pen and jotted his number down and handed it to me and said to contact him if I changed my mind. That was the day I chose CRAS and never looked back.”

Rios learned about CRAS from a friend who had graduated from the Conservatory and was doing live sound in Las Vegas. It was a now or never situation, since Rios had just learned that his wife was pregnant with their first child. “I started looking into CRAS and instantly knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. “Once I got there, I discovered that live sound really wasn’t for me and instead wanted to get into the studio world or post production. CRAS was incredible! I never knew there were so many jobs in audio—I went there thinking it was just live sound or studio. The instructors are very realistic and overall solid people who held my attention and I still stay in contact with them. Being able to work with people I grew up listening to or seeing on TV has been amazing. I never would have had the opportunity to get to this point without the right education.”

Rios fully understands that lasting professional success is never just a lucky windfall. Rewarding careers are the result of preparation, commitment, and hard work along with the right support from a number of people and resources. “A huge thank you to my wife Leanna for dealing with my crazy schedules and making sure that our two daughters are always taken care of,” Rios said. “I couldn’t do it without her. Thanks also go to my mom for helping me get through school, my manager Zoe for giving me the opportunity, and to every artist I’ve worked with who has helped me grow as an engineer.”

Patterson added, “I would love to give a shout out to Zoe Thrall as my director, mother, and friend for taking the biggest chance on me. I hope to continue to make her proud of that decision. I also want to give a shout out to CRAS for equipping me with the knowledge and tools that make me feel invincible at this audio work, my family for allowing me to dive head first into this industry and being understanding of the time it takes to be great, and last but not least to my Studio at the Palms family past and present. We just keep finding a way to do great things together.”

About the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences

Based in the heart of metropolitan Phoenix with two campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, Ariz., the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS) is one of the country’s premier institutions for audio education. For more than three decades, CRAS has been providing quality vocational training in audio recording with constantly updated curriculum and equipment that keeps pace with rapid advancements in the music and sound recording industries. A CRAS education includes broadcast audio, live sound, film and TV audio, music, and video game audio—all taught by award-winning instructors who have excelled in their individual fields, from sound reinforcement, audio recording and production, and digital recording to music business and troubleshooting/maintenance.

CRAS course offerings and subject matter have always centered around the skills and knowledge that students need to succeed in the audio recording industries. Nearly a year of study, 36 weeks of on-campus study and 12 weeks of internships, gives students the opportunity to learn and train in all of the Conservatory’s studios. To graduate from the RAS Master Recording Program II (MRP II), students must complete a 280-hour industry internship. The state-of-the-art audio recording and mixing gear available at CRAS is used in today’s finest studios and remote broadcast facilities, including Pro Tools 12, API Legacy consoles, SSL AWS consoles, and Studer Vista consoles. Job opportunities for CRAS graduates include recording engineer, game audio designer, live sound engineer, audio visual technician, corporate media tech, TV/Video scoring engineer, broadcast engineer, foley engineer, board operator, sound effects engineer, manufacturer’s specialist, environmental sound designer, A&R operations coordinator, and Pro Tools engineer.

To learn more about the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences, visit or email For a more immediate conversation, administrator Kirt Hamm is available at 1-800-562-6383.


from KeyboardMag


Keith Noel Emerson, 1944-2016: A Personal Tribute from his Friends and Colleagues

A personal tribute from his friends and colleagues

The impact that Keith Emerson had on musicians and fans around the world is immeasurable. He graced our cover no less than eight times, and his music and gear was covered in several other issues. We’ll be posting them online for you to enjoy in the coming months. 

Photo: Carla Huntington

Following his death on March 11, we felt the best way to honor Keith’s memory was to hear from many of the musicians and others who worked closely with him and knew him best. To them he was Emo, Fingers, Keith; but mostly he was a dear friend. Thanks to them all for sharing, and to Ellie Schwartz and Jack Hotop for helping to coordinate our talks. Keith—may your music and influence continue to be heard and felt for generations to come. Thank you for sharing your humble brilliance with us all.

“I first heard Keith and the Nice play at a show we both did in Croydon. He played ‘America’ and I thought he was just unbelievable. Our paths didn’t cross much back then, but years later he told me that he saw me playing at the Marquee Club and I was playing ‘Rock Candy’ by Jack McDuff, which was one of his favorite tunes. We shared a love for pianists like Hampton Hawes, Dave Brubeck, and Oscar Peterson, as well. So we both had many of the same influences but took them in different directions. His technique was unbelievable, and his sense of orchestration within a rock context was something to behold.

“Fast-forward a few decades and we find out we’re living only a few miles from each other in California. It was you [Jerry Kovarsky] who brought us together, at that dinner we had in 2006. We hit it off fabulously and became tight friends. I liked his gentle sense of humor, and we shared so much in common, being of the same ‘vintage.’ He was such a huge star around the world, but had no real sense of ego. We would call each other and go to dinner, and especially go out to hear music. I will miss those evenings and his company very much.” 

Keith Emerson, Les McCann, and Brian Auger



Carl Palmer and Keith Emerson

I first met Keith in 1967; I was playing at Battersea Park College with Fleetwood Mac, depping [subbing] for Mick[y] Fleetwood. Top of the bill was The Nice. I had heard of them but never saw the band live, and I got to say hi to Keith after the show. He was a phenomenal player and I became an instant fan. So when I was contacted a few years later to audition for a new band he was forming, I had to go, although I was doing very well with Atomic Rooster at the time. There were very few keyboard players of that caliber: He was incredibly inventive and his musical direction, playing classical adaptations, was pretty much what I always wanted to do. So there was an immediate synergy. You all know the rest of the story…

Keith was the greatest musician I’ve ever played with. We had a total of sixteen years together making music and it was a fantastic experience. Keith was an individual who took his music seriously and tried to push everything he did to new heights. I’ll be doing a number of concerts and festivals this year in tribute to him.”


“I first met Keith at the China Club in L.A. back in the ’90s. I was in the house band, and Keith would come in and play all the time. The band would include John Entwistle on bass, and various guitar players, like Joe Walsh, lots of studio guys. We had great fun seriously playing, not just jamming. One night John and I were talking and thinking, ‘This is too good; we should do something more serious.’ A well-known publicist Michael Jensen offered to arrange a couple of shows in Japan so we solidified the band: Keith, John, Joe, Simon Phillips, and a singer buddy of mine Rick Livingstone. We didn’t know what to call ourselves, and being such shy wallflowers, we decided on The Best. [Laughs.]

“We started rehearsing, and the great thing was everyone was a fan of each other’s work and did their homework to make it sound right. Everyone brought their unique style to the band, and you might not think it would work, but it did. As an example of what Keith brought to the project, we were covering one of John’s tunes, ‘Boris the Spider.’ It’s not very complicated, but while we were playing, for fun, I started playing a bit of the music cue from Jaws and Keith jumps right on it, with the right French horn sound and everything. I look over at John, who was a classically trained French horn player, and start playing the intro to Mussorgsky’s ‘Night on Bald Mountain.’ He knew it, and again Keith was right on it. From there we started quoting Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, and Keith could cover it all. When we got to Japan and whipped out that arrangement the audience was dumbfounded: They had no idea this group of people could go to those places.

“I took my parents on that trip; my Dad was a historian and was in WWII, and Keith was into those things, so they really hit it off. We were making good money for the gigs, so I asked Michael if he could find a bunch of kids from an orphanage and we’d take them to Disneyland, Tokyo, to give something back. I have two favorite images from that day. One was the ‘Ox,’ John Entwistle, standing there with six kids crawling all over him, and loving it. And the same about Keith: He really spent time with the kids and you could see how much he was into making them happy.

“After that tour Keith and I would hang out, and we did some recording. He did a brilliant arrangement of ‘People Are Strange’ for a Doors tribute CD that he had me play some Django-ish guitar on. I really loved the man: He was unique; a tremendous talent, with a lot of emotional depth. He was constantly thinking about music, and I think composing in his mind. I remember looking at him one day and saying, ‘Man, your brain is loud today!’ And Keith just smiled back and said, ‘Yeah, I know.’”


Marc Andre Berthiaume and Keith Emerson

“We first met in 1978. I was in the nosebleed section of the Olympic Stadium concert, not toking, but still getting a contact high from the 58,000-plus fans in attendance. Later, I would tell Keith I was at that show, 5th from left, seat 503—remember me? And he’d respond, ‘Of course, I even looked straight at you,’ the same line he gave everyone that would ask that same question.

“Flash-forward to 1997: ELP is gearing up for another world tour. Through a series of events, I ended up being the monitor engineer. Hundreds of shows with him, and he never lost it. You gave him his mix, and that was pretty much it, with a few tweaks here and there. In 2005, I get a call: ‘Hey, it’s Keith Emerson. Want to be my keyboard tech?’ I gratefully accepted. ‘Hey Keith, remember me? I was the guy in seat 503 at the Olympic Stadium.’ ‘Of course I do, you were wearing that thing,’ came the reply.

“I worked with Keith from 2005 to the 2012 final ELP show at the High Voltage festival in London—a fitting end to ELP. I suggested he throw knives at the stack of Marshalls: He liked that idea, but was worried because Carl may be too close. And he told me the story of how they were on tour with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. As he looked to his Leslies to throw his knives, he spotted a guy crouched down and filming with a super 8 camera. And how this guy’s eyes opened wide when he saw the knives fly in his direction. The guy was Hendrix.

“I became the band tech on the Keith Emerson Band tours; some great shows, and a few transcendental ones. I’d sit stage right, handling patch changes, making white wine spritzers, and watching this genius work. My favorite memories are whenever there was an acoustic piano around: Keith would gravitate to it, and really play; mostly blues and jazz. He was in the moment.

“Now I am left here looking back at fond memories of the Keith not onstage; that smile and the quick puns. And his great laugh. Sitting on his terraced deck, watching the sunset over a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio. We’d talk of life, women, music, women, new keyboard equipment, women, Robert Moog, and… women. I’m sitting here writing this, looking up at a limited edition LP of the first Keith Emerson Band album, with his inscription: ‘To Kirky, a man who dares go where no man has gone before.’

“Well, I did, and I enjoyed the ride. I’m going to miss you, my brother.”


“My first encounter with Keith was in 1973 at the Oakland Civic Center during ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery tour. He leapt off the stage with his Moog ribbon controller during ‘Tarkus’ and landed right in front of me. He gave me this curious look and smiled as if to say, ‘See you in 16 years, mate. Maybe we’ll do something.’

“In 1989, I was playing at a pub in San Jose, Calif., when in comes this person who proceeds to study us. I thought, ‘That guy looks like Keith Emerson,’ but I quickly shrugged it off, finished the tune and took a break. As he’s walking up to me, I said to myself, ‘That is Keith Emerson!’ He introduces himself and asks me the name of the last tune we played, and if we were planning on recording it. I said yes. He says, ‘Do you mind if I play piano on it?’ All I could think to say in my state of shock and bewilderment was, “Well, what have you done?’ And without a flinch he starts to calmly list his resume, starting with The Nice and moving into ELP before I could stop him and confess that it was just a joke.

“We began touring in 1998 with The Boys Club (with Glenn Hughes and Ronnie Montrose) and then as The Keith Emerson Band in 2006. He enjoyed reworking ELP tunes to exploit guitar and was always open to whatever ideas came down the creative pike. He was also very keen on improvisation during the show and would pick up stakes and turn left at a moment’s notice, which kept us all on our toes, and would give the audience something special and unique.

“When Keith suggested I produce the Keith Emerson Band album, I was honored and a bit apprehensive at the prospect. Here was a hero of mine and I was going to tell him what to do and how to play? It was a difficult hurdle to get past, but once we did, it was well worth the effort. The first time this occurred was during the Hammond solo in ‘Marche Train.’ Keith had shaved off a handful of passes and I could tell he was getting a little frustrated at not giving me what this ‘producer’ wanted. Then he says, ‘Right, run it again.’ And he carved off five or six amazing takes of keyboard gymnastics! After that, we knew that there was a hump we needed to get over before all the ideas accelerated into ‘flow mode,’ and we always found ourselves with an embarrassment of riches.

“Keith’s ambition always was to conduct his own compositions. The opportunity presented itself with maestro Terje Mikkelsen in 2010. We went to Munich, Germany to record the Three Fates Project, which was a pinnacle for Keith as well as the rest of us. We had re-orchestrated some of his ELP compositions and when heard in that context, you realize that he was a composer of the highest stature. When the orchestra was in rehearsals, Keith was at the back of the hall, sitting by himself. I walked back to see him and he had tears in his eyes. He said that this was a dream come true for him; finally having ‘Tarkus’ performed the way he had always heard it.

“The last concert we played together was at Barbican Hall in London with the BBC Orchestra in July of 2015. It was the first time much of this music had been heard. Keith was in high spirits and performed flawlessly. He was finally in his element. It seemed befitting and proper that his last gig was his best gig. I have no doubt he will take his place among the musical greats that this world has gifted us with. As it should be.”

“On one occasion he launched into this amazing off-the-top-of-his-head synth intro to ‘Touch and Go.’ I walked over to him in the middle of it and asked, ‘What is that?’ He replied, shaking his head and confessing, ‘I don’t know!’ I was praying that our front of house mixer, Keith Wechsler, was running a DAT tape of the show, which he was (he knew the drill and was fully aware of Keith’s tendencies to explore new musical frontiers mid-concert). So upon returning home from tour, I took the DAT recording and scored it out for the rest of the band and that turned into ‘Blue Inferno’off the Keith Emerson Band studio album, which features the very same recording from that evening.

“Keith always played with a sense of humor. It was vital to his style. He took what he did very seriously, but never himself seriously. He was always sticking in the odd Popeye theme or alternate X-rated lyrics to a ballad. The tour bus bill of fare was always Victor Borge, Dudley Moore, and John Valby. He knew the importance of the nod and a wink approach as a foil to the often intense and complicated music that was being performed. It was at the core of his playing and composing. That’s why you always had an ‘Are You Ready, Eddy?’ entrant on every album, even up to ‘Gametime’ off the Keith Emerson Band album, which was a lurid account of our touring misadventures..

“We developed a very healthy ‘raise and call’ sort of system whereby I would bring something in like ‘A Place To Hide,’ play it for him, and he would sit for a moment after the last strains of the song rang out and then would mutter, ‘Bastard!’ And then take it home and put on this amazing pianistic performance which took it to heights I never would have thought existed. And then he would come in the next day with something he had written for me to have a go at, like ‘The Art Of Falling Down,’ which just about made me do exactly that.

“Keith had just finished writing ‘Prelude to a Hope’and wanted to know what I thought of it. It was a beautiful and reflective solo piano piece, reminiscent of something penned by one of the Impressionist composers. He then says, ‘I know! Let’s get your Mum in here. Let’s see what she thinks!’ And so we brought my Mom into the studio to have a listen and after a couple of suggestions by her, which he entertained with the utmost respect and courtesy, he had a completed masterpiece! After she had made her exit, he tells me, ‘Always listen to your Mom.’

“Keith’s number one concern when performing was always about the musical welfare of his fans. He felt that they carried him through all of the trials that he had been through—especially the issues that he had with his right hand. He was always introduced as the ‘Best Rock Keyboardist in the World,’ which is an incredibly huge weight to shoulder throughout your life. He always felt like he was living under the shadow of that 27-year old keyboard wizard. He always felt unworthy of the moniker, but at the same time, felt compelled to defend his title because that’s what people were coming to see. The ironic thing ultimately is that all of his fans knew about it and would have given him a pass. They came for the music.”

Photo: Tony Ortiz



Emerson on the Hammond L100. Photo by Brian Wilson

“My first encounter with Keith was in 1972: I was working for my Dad in his Hammond organ dealership in Hartford, Conn., unboxing and prepping new organs and Leslie speakers. He asked me to prepare a new L-100 for a show rental. A few days later, we delivered it to the ELP show at the Coliseum. I watched ELP play from side-stage directly across from Keith and realized this band was unlike anything I had ever seen or heard before.

“Late in the show, Keith slid the L-100 toward the audience and began rocking it back and forth so the reverberation springs crashed loudly. He removed a large knife from his belt, showed it to the audience, and stabbed the upper keyboard, wedging two playing keys down. Keith stabbed the upper manual again with a second knife and turned the L-100 off-and-on several times in succession, which produced a sound as if the organ was screaming for help. My Dad heard the wailing from back stage, saw the knives in the organ and was as angry as I had ever seen him. One of the crew told him not to worry, this was part of the show, and that the organ would be okay. Keith broke a dozen or so keys with his knives and threw them into to the audience, who went absolutely wild, and so did my Dad! He called the Hammond Organ Company the next day to complain. Keith told me years later that Hammond sent him a letter telling him they did not want to sell him L-100’s. But in reality, the factory sales manager told me they knew this was a huge marketing plus for them, as L-100 sales increased significantly. I never realized that would be the start of a long series of Emerson encounters through the next 40 years.

“As with so many pro Hammond players, Keith became a friend as well as a client, and we talked over the years about his life and upcoming events. We always reached out when one of the players we knew died. I remember talking to him when Billy Preston, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, and Charles Earland died, as well as Jon Lord and Ray Manzarek. I also called Keith as soon as I heard Bob Moog died, and again when Lemmy died, and in both cases, he was particularly upset. We talked about the difficulty of losing our friends and he would always say something positive like ‘Yet, we keep moving on’ or ‘Tomorrow is another day.’ Keith called me when my daughter died suddenly and talked to me for two hours. He told me life wasn’t going to be the same, but to always think about the good times as they get us through the bad. I thought about that particular conversation right after Keith died.

“Whenever anyone asked me about Keith Emerson, I always said he was the gentleman Statesman of the industry. He constantly encouraged others to play music that makes them happy. He was an amazing individual who never had a bad word to say about anyone, was the first to make a joke, and never really accepted the fact he was the best of the best. I will miss Keith as the world lost a truly gifted musician, who was a compassionate and caring man. Some of us lost an amazing friend who cannot be replaced.”

“Around 1990, prior to the Black Moon Tour, I rebuilt Keith’s Hammond C-3, which was the original Pictures at an Exhibition organ, and two Leslie 122’s equipped with tube amplifiers as Keith liked the original ‘spit’ as he called it from vacuum tubes. A few years later, I rebuilt the ‘Tarkus’ C-3, which Keith then used exclusively with the two Leslie 122s up to the day he died. In the ’90s, Will Alexander came up with a great idea for a custom oversize dual-Leslie case to house both Leslie 122s, complete with internal microphones so the Leslie’s could stay in the road case, and the mic setup for shows was easy.

“I met Dr. Bob Moog at the August 4th 1992 ELP concert at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford, CT. Bob, Keith, and I were standing together in a room backstage and I noticed several reporters were looking at us. I didn’t think much about it until later when one reporter asked me what the three of us could have been talking about—electronic music, technical modifications, the next new Moog or Hammond project? I replied, “We were actually talking about how good the sandwiches were.”

“Here’s a photo of Will and I working on the L-100 damage: We installed black wood braces (in the rear) between the top and the shelf to strengthen the organ. We also installed some frame braces to help keep the organ cabinet intact from Emo’s knife and other attacks. In the ’90s, we had to come up with some pretty innovative ideas to keep the various L-100s from falling apart as replacements were scarce. The L-100 in the pic of Will and I making repairs made it to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame when the motor-starting capacitor ignited on stage in a Boston show. We replaced it with another L-100 but had to strengthen and rebuild it as with its predecessors.”

Photo: Tony Ortiz


“My times playing with The Keith Emerson Band are undoubtedly some of my favorite moments, musical or otherwise. Sometimes during a gig (for example, after singing the ‘Stones of Years’ part of ‘Tarkus’) I would just lay out and listen to the incredible interplay going on. Keith was totally fearless on stage, never afraid to take chances, and his improvisational skills were second to none. Sometimes he’d just stretch out and take a piece of music in a totally different direction, or start re-harmonizing the chord progression: He was always creating and constantly trying new ideas. I think he knew that wherever he took the music, we’d be right there with him, and that confidence freed him up to be as crazy as he wanted to be.

“He also loved our little musical “battles”; those Jeff Beck/Jan Hammer-type exchanges we had were some of my highlights of the live shows. Occasionally we’d just abandon musical phrases and have silly conversations by trying to sound like the The Clangers (a British children’s TV series in the ‘70s) or just resort to making stupid noises at each other. He had such a wonderful sense of humor.

“The last time Keith and I played together was in 2009. Keith called me up out of the blue and told me that his mother had just passed away. He asked me to play with him at her funeral, so the two of us (along with a string quartet) played a new piece that Keith had written. Even though it was a very sad occasion, it was such a joy to play together again. Keith last called me in January 2016, asking if I was up for doing some duo gigs later this year, and I so wish we could still do that. Apart from being a musical genius, Keith had such a warm spirit and a beautiful soul, and I’ll miss him more than I can ever express in words.”

“I come from a long line of piano players… my grandfather played, and two of my uncles… and I guess I was maybe 10 or 11 years old when my uncles sat me down and played me the track ‘Lucky Man.’ ‘Take a listen to the ending’ said uncle Pete, and for the next 4 minutes and 36 seconds I just sat there, totally mesmerized and bewitched. From then on I was hooked, and I wanted to play just like Keith Emerson. Unfortunately, there was a small flaw in my plan: My parents didn’t have a piano! But I would play at my grandmother’s house, and at school whenever I got the chance, just working out songs by ear, or composing new tunes.

“Fast forward a couple of decades (4/2/2000 to be exact), and I’m on stage playing guitar (I never did get a piano) with a group called Qango. Yeah, it was a stupid name, absolutely nothing to do with me! The band featured John Wetton, Carl Palmer, and John Young (Scorpions, Greenslade, The Strawbs), and we’re performing at a place called the Astoria 2 in the heart of London, playing a mixture of material from Asia, ELP (I was playing a lot of the keyboard lines on guitar), and some John Wetton solo material. The gig went pretty well, and as we’re walking off stage, down the steps I notice this guy waiting at the bottom with this huge grin on his face, his arms outstretched…

‘Oh my God…it’s…Keith Emerson!’

“No one knew he was there, as he’d come along to surprise his old band mate. He came up and gave me the biggest hug, as if we’d known each other for years, and told me he was really impressed, as he’d never heard a guitarist play his lines before. As I’m standing there totally speechless, he then asks if he can get up and jam during the encore. So there I was, standing on stage playing with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer, with my two uncles in the audience (yeah, the guys who introduced me to ELP in the first place), and I’m literally floating on air. I can’t even remember what we played (probably ‘Fanfare’). All I can recall is standing there with this huge, stupid grin on my face thinking ‘this is undoubtedly the coolest night ever!’

“A few days later John Wetton calls me up, and tells me that Keith wants to join the band! Unfortunately this never happened and the band folded shortly afterwards. In retrospect maybe it was just as well, as our collective initials would have spelt PEWK!

“Anyway, a few years later I was relaying this story to my friend Alan Scally at Korg, saying that I wish I’d had chance to talk to Keith properly after the show, just to say how much that evening meant to me, and Alan says ‘well, I have his email if you want.’ So I wrote Keith an email, never expecting to hear back, and about half an hour later I receive a reply from him, asking what my voice is like and whether I’d like to form a band!

“A few weeks later, he’s back in England and we meet up in London. He says, ‘Do you know a good drummer and bass player?’ I ask whether he’s looking for ‘name’ players, and he said ‘No, I just want to work with good people.’ That was so typical of Keith, absolutely no ego whatsoever. So essentially, Keith had just asked me to put together my dream band. I immediately thought of Pete Riley (drums) and Phil Williams (bass). I’d played with them separately in different situations, but we’d never actually all played together before. I was hopeful that it would work, and work it did, far better than I ever could have imagined.

“During that first meeting we talked about material, and I suggested that we play the whole of ‘Tarkus,’ as it’s such a wonderful piece. Keith asked me what key I’d like to sing it in, and I said ‘the original key of course.’ And his face lit up like a little kid at Christmas. (I believe that as Greg’s voice got deeper, they would change keys every tour, which meant that Keith would have to transpose everything.)

“Also his lack of any sort of ego always amazed me; he had a childlike sense of innocence that was so endearing. I remember one day in rehearsal, I was sitting with the guitar on my lap, playing it like a piano. He came in and said ‘Hey that’s great: We have to put that in the set!’ And sure enough, he decided that during the set I would play the guitar on the floor (I played a part of ‘Sabre Dance,’ from Khachaturian’s ballet Gayane), whilst he would play the keyboards back to front. Keith absolutely loved the theatrics, and of course the audience loved it too.

“During another rehearsal Keith had to pop out for an interview, so the three of us carried on and were messing around with some Led Zeppelin tunes. We’re playing ‘Black Dog’ as he comes back in, and he says, ‘We have to do that song!’ ‘I can’t sing that’ I protested. ‘Yes, you can,’ said Keith. Well, when your musical hero tells you that you can do something, then you just do it. He later told us that ‘Black Dog’ was his inspiration for writing ‘Living Sin’ (from the wonderful Trilogy album), and we’d often throw it in as a surprise encore.

“Speaking of writing, we actually started working on some new pieces together, but unfortunately we never had chance to finish them. During a Keith Emerson Band tour break I accepted a ‘ten week tour’ with Roger Waters, which ended up lasting almost eight years!”

Photo: Tony Ortiz
(Photo: Dominic Milano



“Keith’s long relationship with Keyboard started in 1977. Works Vol. 1 had just come out and (pinch me) I was invited to spend a week with Keith in Montreal. ELP were prepping for a tour complete with a full orchestra. When I got there, the orchestra hadn’t joined the band for rehearsals, so I got to stand a few feet from Keith while my favorite trio ran through ‘Fanfare’ ‘Pirates,’ ‘Tarkus’…

“During breaks, Keith would sit at the Steinway in a flimsy plastic chair—the kind you find in cafeterias—and play barrelhouse blues and jazz. He wasn’t practicing and he wasn’t showing off. He was just playing for the sheer joy of it.

“I was surprised at how low he sat relative to the keyboard. Not quite as low as, say, Glenn Gould would’ve sat, but Keith sat much lower than I expected. Another aspect of his technique that struck me was how Keith held his elbows out and away from his body, so he was playing from his fingers—a position he admitted was causing him trouble; repetitive stress injury trouble. That was my first brush with such injuries. Alas, it wouldn’t be the last. We did a feature story some time later [April 1994] on carpal tunnel and other ills that can befall a keyboardist. The story was inspired in large part by Keith’s experiences.

“I don’t remember how much tape we burned through doing that first Keyboard interview, but I remember talking during nearly every moment he was free. For example, when we were riding in the back seat of a car on the way to the hockey rink where ELP was rehearsing, walking around his keyboard rig, sitting someplace quiet, flying to New York City together while he picked out a Steinway for the Works tour.

“ELP were one of the most popular bands in the world at the time, so it wasn’t surprising one of the guards at the border crossing recognized the name on Keith’s passport. ‘Keith… as in Emerson, Lake & Palmer?’ Keith nodded shyly and graciously thanked the guy, taking his fame in stride, but not wearing it on his sleeve.

“I took for granted how willing Keith was to talk about anything I asked, and I asked everything I’d been wondering about since I first heard him with the Nice in the late ’60s: Drawbar settings, what and who inspired him, why he jettisoned his massive Leslie/Hiwatt setup in favor of a single, miked 122 and a DI feed, and a zillion other questions. When I wondered if ‘The Three Fates,’ like ‘The Barbarian’ and ‘Knife Edge’ was an adaptation of something classical, the look on his face made me think of a kid who’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He answered earnestly, ‘No,’ paused to think, and then asked, ‘Why? Does it remind you of something?’

“In late February 2016, I was sitting at my computer when the phone rang. ‘Dominic. It’s Keith … as in Emerson.’ Ever the gentleman, he called because he’d spent the day doing interviews, but the next one was about something he’d heard I was researching. He didn’t want to help anyone who was competing with me. Flattered by the unexpected loyalty, I thanked him and said he should do the interview, which was about his relationship with a mutual friend, Bob Moog.

“Three weeks later, my favorite organist was gone. His impact on my life and the lives of so many keyboard players is immeasurable. He left us too soon, but he left us with so much.”

“It was a day much like any other at Keyboard central circa 1985. I was in my office putting a synth through its paces when the phone rang. ‘Dominic. It’s Keith … as in Emerson.’ As if I wouldn’t recognize the voice of ‘my favorite organist.’ That was the title he’d given himself. I’d have used something a bit grander, but who was I to argue?

“The reason for the call surprised me. Emerson, Lake and Powell were about to go on tour and they’d decided to do “’Lucky Man’ the way it was recorded. You know, with that solo. ‘You put a transcription of it in the magazine, didn’t you?’ Keith asked. ‘Would you mind sending it over? It would save me the trouble of having to learn it.’ Jim Aikin had indeed transcribed the ‘Lucky Man’ solo, and I was more than happy to send it. Keith reciprocated by faxing me a copy of his hand-written score to ‘Eruption.’ Strange, but true.

“There were a lot of other ways Keith interacted with Keyboard over the years: He wrote a column (that I ghost-wrote); he interviewed Howard Jones for us; played a concert at NAMM. And from time to time, he sent me his son Aaron’s demo tapes. ‘Did you get them? What’d you think?’ Keith would ask anxiously, the way any proud father would. Keith wasn’t just any father, of course, but he didn’t use his stature or our friendship to curry favor.

“When Keith told me he’d played with Oscar Peterson, it wasn’t so much a boast as it was to share how nervous he felt playing with one of his personal heroes. Even when Keith entrusted me with a cassette tape of Aaron Copland talking about ELP’s treatment of Fanfare for the Common Man, it wasn’t to brag. It was to show that one of America’s most respected composers respected Keith’s work. After a 10-hour day, I brought the tape back to my hotel room and transcribed it, hoping my cassette recorder wouldn’t eat the thing. It was Keith’s only copy.”

Photo: Tony Ortiz


Emerson with friend and ELP archivist, Tony Ortiz

“One time after a show, I brought my motorcycle back to the hotel. I had it on the kickstand running, and Keith sat on it so I could take a photo. Then I sat behind him for a photo, and he took off for a quick ride around the parking lot with me on the back. The next day backstage, Greg gave me a 15-minute lecture on how the tour could have been canceled lf he had gotten hurt. I walked out of his room and Keith was standing there with a huge grin on his face.

Ortiz and Emerson: The Wild Ones

“To explain what type of person Keith was is easy, he sent me a gift on his birthday. When I told Keith I had AL S, he said, “you have to go to Switzerland they have great doctors.” I told him there is no cure and it’s terminal. I could see on his face he was very concerned. He would call me every so often to see how I was. One time I told him I was nervous about how I was going to die and he told me something that still helps me till this day. ‘F—k it man, life itself is a terminal illness!’

“The best time I ever had was at ELP’s last show at the High Voltage Festival in London on July 25, 2010. A friend of mine and I got them a cake with figures of them playing their instruments. They loved it. All four of us stood behind the cake for a photo, which would become the last photo of them all together. I knew they would never play again, and my eyes got a little watery. Thank you Keith for raising the bar to an untouchable level.”

Jerry Kovarsky’s interview with Tony Ortiz

How did you first meet Keith?
It all began on July 25, 1992 when a friend of mine who worked for A&M records was able to get me backstage passes for the show at Jones Beach in Long Island, New York. I had seen ‘Emerson Lake & Powell’ and ‘3’ in concert but this would be the first time I would see all three members performing together. After the concert at the meet-and-greet, I think my friend and I were the only people with ELP records to get autographed, so the band were happy to see us.

I also had tickets for the next night at the Garden State Arts Center in New Jersey. After that show I went to the entrance to where the meet-and-greet was. I was able to get a pass from a fan that was leaving. When I handed Keith some old concert programs to autograph he recognized me and said “You were at the show last night!” I told him “I had been waiting 14 years for this.” As I was leaving, a fan gave me two tickets for the next show at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. So a friend and I went. After the show we walked around the back of the venue and were able to buy a set of passes off a fan that was leaving the meet-and-greet. We met Keith, who was shocked to see me again. On this night, I got some old magazines and CD’s autographed. He called the tour manager over and introduced us and told him to give us anything we wanted. I asked Keith if he could get us tickets and passes for the next five shows, he said, “You guys don’t work?” I told him, “Not if we get tickets!” He turned to the tour manager and told him to make sure that we were on the guest list for the next five shows. By the end of the tour we exchanged e-mail addresses and became good friends.

Can you tell me some experiences working with Keith/the band at their performances?
When he played at NEARfest (June, 2006 Bethlehem, PA) with his band, I remember us going up to the stage where we had to go through a bunch of hallways and doorways. So we all are in the wings stage left where the announcer is introducing the band. It was pitch black; you could just about see were you were walking. The announcer says, “Ladies and gentlemen welcome the Keith Emerson Band!” and Marc and Pete walk out but not Keith. I turn around to tell him “you’re on” but he was gone. I ask a guy that worked for the venue, “where the hell did he go?” He points to the door that leads to the dressing room. So I run down as fast as I could, got to the dressing room, open the door and he’s there, tucking his shirt in. I say, “What are you doing? The band is on stage waiting for you!” He said, “Sh**, go, go, go!” and we run up the stairs through the hallways. I felt like I was in a scene from Spinal Tap. He runs out onto the stage with a huge roar from the crowd. The band played, and they went down like a storm. After the show Keith walks into the wings and I ask him, “What the hell were you doing?” He said, “I had to take a leak mate…”

Any interesting observations about how Keith prepared/warmed up for a performance?
The first time I was with Keith before a show he was warming up by playing a little. I asked him if he wanted anything; he asked for a Coke so I get it for him. I leave for a little bit, came back and asked if he wanted anything else. He says an ice coffee, so I get it, then leave for a bit and come back and ask if he needed anything. He says, “I’ll have a white wine spritzer.” I said, “Are you having a laugh, you only had a sip of the coke and coffee?” He said, “No I always do this before I go on.”

Did Keith enjoy meeting his fans?
He loved his fans. On countless occasions at meet-and-greets, fans would say something to him like “My brother wanted to come but he’s very ill.” Keith would say “Give me his number, I’ll call him.”

Here is an example of how much Keith loved his fans. A fan by the name of Christine Bournival Bodi sent me her story: My older brother Maurice was instrumental in introducing ELP to my twin sister and me many years ago. He adored Keith Emerson and saw their early tours. I was incredibly fortunate to meet Keith on several occasions. But Maurice never did.

Well, being gravely ill right before Thanksgiving 2011, and things not looking good for him to pull through, a kind person I’m friendly with got word to Keith that the “twin’s brother” had a dying wish to meet him. Keith remembered us, a pre-arranged time was set, and I was given Keith’s cell phone number to call. We told Moe he was going to talk to his idol later that day; the look on his face was pure happiness! I nervously dialed KE’s number and he answered, “Hi there!” I said it was “me” and he said “hello darling…how are you doing?” I filled him in quickly then passed the phone to Moe, who then talked for about 10 minutes as we videotaped the whole thing. I was beside myself with elation on granting this dying wish at a helpless time. Sis ended the conversation, telling Keith how he had just fulfilled a lifelong wish to our brother. It was the last time he was well enough to communicate in a clear-headed manner, before passing away a few days later.

I got a few beautiful messages from both Keith and his lovely partner Mari in the days that followed, and I was told from my contact that Keith is a very private, but kind man and it showed how much affection he has for my sister and I to go to this extent and reach out to us.

Here is another example of how much Keith loved his fans. A fan by the name Carla Huntington sent me her story: I remember when Keith was a first crush and when this nervous, 12-year-old girl met him. Keith was such a real person and made me laugh with a rendition of somewhat rude noises on his keyboard that took the nerves away. At those ’70s mega-concerts, he would leave the crowds and come over to say hello, make a joke, which was usually bad, and give hugs. Keith never forgot how to be a fan as well as a performer.

Much later he welcomed my children with wise advice, funny faces and more bad jokes. Keith showed me the world of classical music and taught me that it was never about the skill, but the emotion behind it. When sorrow filled my world, Keith was the first one that reached out to me with words of comfort, and yes, even more bad jokes to make me laugh, when I thought I would never laugh again.

I remember our interviews that would be five minutes of actual print and an hours worth of laughs. At Keith’s 70th birthday I told him, it isn’t how big the music is, it was his heart that counted. Keith Emerson: crush, mentor, big brother, genius, and mostly a friend whose kindness is immortal.

Here is an example of how Keith really was from Frank Askew, author of Emerson, Lake and Palmer: The Show That Never Ends … Encore

I met Keith many times. The first meaningful encounter was during ELP’s 1996 Japanese tour when I was invited to join the band on an 8-day trek whilst researching for the ELP biography. He was a very funny, caring and compassionate guy. After one show, Greg Lake was being wined and dined by his bass guitar sponsors, so Keith invited me to ride in the limo with Carl back to the hotel. It was such a surreal experience deputizing for Greg and being a ‘Rock God’ for a twenty-minute ride! Fans were banging on the roof of the car and peering in through the windows and Keith just wanted to make sure I felt important. He also had a wicked sense of humor claiming he had the ‘biggest nod’ in the band after working the cues to the ending of Touch & Go in the sound check. He was genuinely moved that I travelled to Japan to see him perform and told me that “it’s fans like you all over the world that make performing a real pleasure, and it means so much to me and the lads, so thank you.”

Any old war stories that you heard/learned from people in the ELP camp from back in the day?
I was on the road with Carl and I asked him, “Did anyone ever pull any jokes on you?” He said, “Yes, one time someone sent a dozen chocolate mousses to my room.” I asked, “what did you do?” He said, “I told him I didn’t order them” and closed the door. I asked him if he ever found out who did it and he said no. A couple years later I was on the road with Keith and asked him the same question, he said yes, I sent Carl a dozen chocolate mousses once.


Keith and CJ Vanton testing knives before a show

“It was backstage at Royal Albert Hall in 1992. We [Spinal Tap] were all getting spandexed up for our show when the manager came in and said, ‘Some keyboard player wants to sit in.’ I asked if she had gotten their name. ‘Ummm…Keith something.’ I froze. ‘K…Keith Em…Emerson?’ I asked warily. ‘Yeah, that’s it,’ the manager replied unknowingly. I braced myself, and five minutes later in walked the man, looking like James f—king Bond. Little did I know, but that was the beginning of what would become a long friendship.

“His almost childlike sense of wacky humor jibed with my Dennis the Menace-like attitude. Somehow I discovered that Keith was into airplanes. Well, I’ve been an aviation buff since I was a kid. We started talking about planes, and the stories of the brave pilots that flew the Spitfires and P-51s, and I saw another side of Keith.

“It got deeper. One time I visited him at a studio and I started playing ‘Strange Meadowlark’ by Dave Brubeck. Suddenly he came sprinting around the corner yelling ‘That’s Brubeck!’ Yep, both huge fans. We also loved the songs and the stories of Jimmy Van Heusen. Jimmy was secretly a test pilot for Lockheed, by the way. I used to leave Keith messages late at night, playing different Van Heusen songs like ‘Darn That Dream.’ He loved that stuff.

“We even shared a little fetish for writing pencils and erasers. We both carried pencil boxes with different drafting and drawing pencils for writing charts/scores/notes. One of his erasers was in the shape of an ear. It was his ear-aser. Says it all.

“The kicker for me was reading his book, Pictures of an Exhibitionist. This amazing man, on top of being the god of the keyboards and one of the greatest composers of the last 100 years, could write his ass off! His book has a beautiful arc to it, like a great composition. I called and told him ‘I read your book…and I hate you! You’re good at everything!’

“The juxtaposition of the most fearsome keyboard player and showman ever to strike the keys, combined with the incredible thousand-year-old yet futuristic (and underrated) composer that he was, was perfectly balanced by his impish sense of humor and love of laughter. That’s who Keith was to me. And I think that balance is a huge part of why he was one of the most incredible musicians who ever lived. He lived life. As he wrote to me on his 66th birthday: ‘66…er…99…66…99…still on the spinning piano of life….’”

(photo by Marc Andre Berthiaume


“I am writing this because I wanted everyone to know where my thoughts are at this very difficult time. Keith Emerson, my dad, was a talented composer. He loved jazz, classical and contemporary music, and music would always be played around the house, be it in Chiddingly or elsewhere over the years. Here are a couple of my favorite childhood memories:

The first time I ever heard the John Williams track from “Jaws” was when Dad took me into the middle of the ocean to teach me to water ski. As I bobbed up and down, head just above the waves, he decided to play the theme music off the back of the boat! ‘****’ I screamed! But Dad had already slammed the boat into gear and we were off!

The earliest memory I have of ELP is from the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. I must have been around seven years old. As we were leaving the concert in what I remember was quite a big car, from out of nowhere strange faces ran towards us and started banging on the car windows and screaming. My first thoughts were, ‘Dad, you really must’ve sucked tonight!’ to which he replied, ‘No, Aaron, everything is OK, this is how they are showing their appreciation!’ It’s a funny thing to see at seven years old: I wish I was a little older then, or could go back in time to live it how he lived it. Carl, Greg and my Dad had a magical bond. They are, and always will be, my extended family. ”

(pianist, composer)

 “As a classically trained pianist, it took me until my 40th birthday to be exposed to Keith’s piano concerto in 2001, and I fell in love with it instantly. Keith inspired me to go ‘out of the box’ and fearlessly offer it to orchestras, pairing his concerto with works by Liszt and Chopin. Seeing him in the audiences for my performances was a gift. Those concerts surely gave him a sense of approval from classical orchestras, conductors and audiences, who rewarded him with tremendous ovations for his contributions to music. I miss my friend, and will keep his piano concerto out there for audiences to enjoy and remember him by.

The one time I spent with him alone was at the piano in the hotel lobby in Kentucky, and when he asked me how I avoid tension in the hands and loose playing, I showed him the stretching exercises I do for the fingers and the loose and supple wrists to accomplish this void of tension. He was able to do them, and liked doing them. Of course, this came far too late in his life as a player, but he did enjoy that time with me. Here I was, showing the great Keith Emerson technical exercises. But it meant so much to me that he wanted to always learn more about his craft.

(Tour Tech)

“In 2008 I was working for Adrian Belew and we played the Creation of Peace Festival in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia with the King Crimson Project, which included Eddie Jobson, Tony Levin, Pat Mastellato and Earl and Julie Slick. The Keith Emerson Band was on the bill and we got to hang out for six days. I met Keith and got to know him a bit, but I really got to know and bond with his crew—Keith Wechsler and Marc Berthauime. We stayed in touch after we returned to the States, and a few years later (2010) I got the call when they needed a tech for Greg Lake, when they were preparing their duo tour. I reconnected with Keith and we did that two-month tour. Fast forward a few more years and I get the call to work on the ELP reunion show at the High Voltage Festival in the UK. It was incredible: We did six weeks of full production rehearsals at Shepperton Studios in Surry on a full soundstage. Next door they were filming Captain America! I loved how each day when he came in, Keith would always warm up on piano, which was wonderful. And he and Marc worked really hard on getting the sounds right. He had a lot of gear at that point—racks of Korg Tritons, some Alesis stuff, some software, the Korg OASYS, and more. And he was very specific about even the smallest sound, which might be used to only play one small line.

“Given that much time, at the same place, no travelling around, I got to talk to Keith more and get to know him. One of my favorite stories was one night the crew wanted to go out for Indian food. As we arrived at the restaurant the front door opens and out comes Keith. ‘Well, hello chaps, nice to see you.’ Obviously we were going in, and he had just finished, but he asked, ‘Mind if I join you?’ So he came back in with us, and bought some drinks, and proceeded to entertain us with stories for the next 90 minutes. And then he paid for our dinners! That one event exemplifies Keith for me. Acting on the spur of the moment. His story-telling: If you’ve read his book, it’s only the tip of the iceberg, but it gives you a sense of his wonderful, dry style of speaking. And it speaks to his kindness, and lack of ego. He was happy to spend time with us, buy us our meal and share some hilarious stories from his life.

“His humor was wonderful, and on tour with him it was something to look forward to. We would do the basic sound check and then Keith would come in, and you knew something funny was going to be said; maybe just a sly pun, or a bigger practical joke on someone. My favorite part of the Emerson/Lake duo tour was every night there would be completely open Q and A with the audience. We sent people out with microphones and we never knew what was going to be asked of the guys. One of my favorites was the night a guy got on the mic and said his dream was always to play ‘Hoedown’ on Keith’s rig. Keith said, ‘Well, come on up, then!’ The guy ran up and he was actually pretty good, and Greg joined in, and then Keith got on the other keyboard and they all rocked out the tune.

“Another time, when we were in NY and a woman said that her brother had turned her on to ELP’s music, and her dream always was to just lie underneath Keith’s piano while he played. Once again, he said, ‘Come on up!’ and she laid down underneath his Korg SV-1 while Keith played some dreamy improv for her. The crowd loved it.

“I stayed in touch with Keith since the High Voltage show. I had a few days off in LA while I was on tour with Greg, and Keith and Mari took me to see Brian Auger at the Typhoon. That was a great night, musically and socially. The last time is saw him was in 2014: I was on tour with Adrian Belew and I invited Keith to the show as a surprise for Adrian. Adrian had told me that he saw ELP in 1971 and when he first hear Keith play the modular he said, ‘That’s it, I’ve got to figure out how make those kind of noises on the guitar!’ And that caused him to start exploring adding effects to his guitar—filters, ring mod and then ultimately, the guitar synth. So I brought Keith to his show; they got to meet, and Adrian got to tell Keith his story. It was wonderful to be able to bring them together, and they got along great.

“Keith was a warm, gentle guy, and he always looked out for us on the crew, which he didn’t have to do. He was incredibly funny, with that dry, British delivery. It’s sad to realize he’s gone. ”

(Radio personality, playwright)

“I am a keyboard player, and Keith and ELP opened my eyes and ears to so much. I saw them every time they came to New York. I’ve spent 35 years in rock radio so I had plenty of opportunity to play their music and to support the band. When I would meet him backstage I was surprised that he was so self-effacing and shy. I remember thanking him for the music and he replied, ‘Was it OK; did you like it?’ I’ve met so many rock stars and no one ever replied with such innocence and honesty. He would visit me at the radio station, or we’d dine together and he always wanted to know what I was listening to, and we’d discuss classical, rock, jazz… he loved and lived music. He was never really into the music business, only the music.”

(The Buggles, Asia, Yes)

“Keith was the main influence in getting me started playing keyboards in a rock/prog context. I saw the Isle Of Wight festival in 1969 and I was just blown away. Not just his musicality but his showmanship, as well. There’s never been another like him since then.

“I first got to meet him in 1989 when a bunch of musicians got together to help raise money for the victims of the Armenian earthquake. We did a remake of ‘Smoke On The Water’ with Roger Taylor on drums, Chris Squire on bass, Keith and I on keyboards, and a whole host of guitar players (Ritchie Blackmore, Tony Iommi, David Gilmour, Brian May, Alex Lifeson), and vocalists (Ian Gillian, Bryan Adams, Bruce Dickinson, and Paul Rodgers). I was co-producer on the session, and it did quite well, raising a lot of money to support the victims. We got along quite well and had some fun during the breaks. Somewhere there’s a video clip of Keith and I jamming, four hands on one piano that was a lot of fun.

“Keyboard players rarely get to share the stage with each other, so we didn’t get to work together much beyond that. Obviously I worked a lot with his mates; with Carl Palmer in Asia and I did a record with Greg Lake that just recently came out. I would see Keith often whenever one of my tours with Asia or Yes came to LA, and he would always show up, and he had more people around him than anyone in the band did!

“I went to his funeral the other week, and it was nice how many people turned up. Rick Wakeman was there and said to me, ‘Why don’t we celebrate people’s lives when they’re still alive?’ Indeed, why don’t we?”

Photo: Marie Gregorio-Oviedo


“I first heard Keith’s music at a friend’s house when I was nine; it was a Best Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer compilation. When I heard the synthesizer section of ‘Trilogy’ I thought, ‘What’s that instrument?’ Then I went back to the earlier piano section of the tune and really liked the piano parts. I related it back to my classical studies, like Rachmaninoff, and thought it was really cool how Keith brought that type of harmony, movement and expression to rock music. I started learning his music from that point on. He expanded the role of the organ in rock music—at times like a pipe organ, other times jazzy and then really aggressive. I really enjoy playing his music and I’m going to keep on playing it and share it with many more people.”

Her Mom adds: “She used to play ELP music at home all the time, but she also was involved in flute recitals. They always had a good piano, which Rachel would want to play afterwards, so she started giving mini-ELP concerts after the recitals! She was really enjoying playing the music so we decided to try filming a few clips and putting them on YouTube to share his music and see what happened. We got an immediate and overwhelming response.”

Rachel: “People really enjoyed it, it was fun to do: I love playing his music. I like the fact that there are some sections where he would improvise, and I went back to many live recordings to see what he did with those sections. And then, while searching around YouTube, I found a recording of Keith doing Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, which I always liked, and that led me to discover The Nice. I learned ‘Rondo’ from their version. I liked the jazzier aspect of that group—part psychedelic, part jazz.

Her mother recounts first meeting Keith: “In 2013 Rachel was at a flute competition, and our friend Paul Mouradjian kept texting me saying Keith was going to be at the Typhoon restaurant conducting the Orchestra Surreal. He said we had to get down there. So we did, and we walked up the couple of flights of stairs, came around a turn and there was Keith coming out the door. He looked at us and said…” (Rachel takes over, doing a spot-on imitation), “’I know you: Well hello, Rachel.’ I knew his voice from listening to the Beyond The Beginning DVD. It was so exciting meeting him. We talked about jazz singers, with their fast vibrato, and he told me about a cut he was working on for a Doors tribute CD. He signed and gave me the baton he used conducting that night. We got to visit again at NAMM a few years later at a Hammond organ event. That was fun, but it was loud!!”

(Moog Modular Product Manager, Moog Music Inc.)

“I have possession of his Moog system. Many times he would want to make some tracks with other artists for various projects, so he would come out to visit and he would always get lost on the way. He’d call my cell and I’d have to talk him through the neighborhood to get to our street. My wife would say jokingly, ‘Is Keith lost again?’

“One of the best times was when Keith was here with CJ Vanston and Peter Bernstein, making some tracks, and in an off moment CJ and Keith jammed ‘Stones of Years’ on Hammond C3 and grand piano. My wife is not what you would call a star-struck person, but she said ‘OMG this is good stuff’ and recorded bits of it on her phone.

“My wife, as I mentioned, is not of the ‘fan-boy’ (or ‘fan-girl’) ilk. She likes people as people, not as star-stuff. Keith loved it when people treated him as a person, not as some kind of legend. So my wife and Keith would talk about anything other than music, and he really lit up when that happened. One time they were discussing gardening. The discussion drifted into the topic of tomatoes, which my wife pronounced “TOE-MAY-TOES” and Keith pronounced “TOE-MAH-TOES” which we all found humorous. We started talking about dialects. Then I said (in violation of the no-music rule), ‘Here’s a classical music joke:’ You say ‘CAR-MEEN-AH, I say CAR-MINE-NAH, let’s Carl the whole thing Orff!’ Keith laughed for about ten minutes. It’s obscure; Google it!

“Keith and I did talk about classical music a lot. He was curious about how I knew something about the topic, and I told him that it was due to my father. My dad is a huge classical music nut. On Sunday mornings everybody else in the family would go to church, and my Dad and I would stay home, and that was the chance for classical music to blast (louder than my mother would have liked) in the living room on the TV-radio-turntable console system. I didn’t really like it at the time, but now I see it as a blessing. I grew familiar with Mussorgsky, Stravinsky, Mozart, and Beethoven.

“I told Keith all of this at some point, during some moment of spare time. He loved it, and told me about his similar growing-up days listening to artists like Jimmy Smith. I went out on a limb and said that I thought that ‘Tarkus’ was a piece of classical music. I said it was possibly one of the most memorable compositions of the late 20th century. He was a bit flustered.”

Photo: G. Stopp

(keyboardist, close friend)

“The first time I met Keith was in 1987… on the drive outside his house. I’d never ever been to an ELP concert or a Nice concert, I’d led quite a sheltered youth, although I had been playing his pieces or trying to, since the age of about 14 yrs. Then one day, I decided that Keith was someone I would like to chat to, give him some of my band’s recordings, and possibly buy him a beer if the opportunity arose. So I decided to search him out. This might seem a little strange to you, but to me it was an obvious step that I had to take in my musical life!

“After a lot of sleuthing I got an address. So with my cassette tape and a few band photos in my pocket, I went there, knocked on the door, and his mother, Dorothy answered. She told me to call back the next evening, as Keith was away not in.

“The next evening as I was walking up the drive to ‘Stonehill,’ I heard a car behind me on the gravel. It was Emo. He got out and asked me what I wanted. I gave him the tape and photos and told him that I played keyboards and was a fan and would like to buy him a beer if he had the time. He asked me if I knew the ‘Six Bells’ and said he’d meet me there the day after. The next day we sat in the ‘Bells’ with a bottle of wine for a few hours chatting.

“I explained my background, and that I played his stuff. I gave him a tape of the band I was in at the time and he was genuinely intrigued. We also talked about keyboards, and it emerged that his gear was in need of some maintenance. So I sent him copies of all my Hammond organ service manuals. We corresponded by letter and then later, phone calls. I used to work the ELP numbers out by ear, and it happened quite a few times that I would just call him and ask about specific details if I was stuck. I would also call him to ask if he’d be around because: ‘I’d be popping down there this weekend.’ A lot of the time he’d be away, but when he was home he would always suggest meeting up. On one occasion a friend and I called to say: ‘We’re here…’ and Aaron answered the phone. He told me: ‘Dad’s out shopping, but he said for you to come round and wait. He won’t be long.’ We went round and when they returned, Elinor made coffee, and we sat listening to some newly recorded Black Moon tracks, ‘Close To Home’ and ‘Blade Of Grass.’ Emo asked me which one I thought should be on the album! Then we played on a baby grand he had there. He told me it was the piano he’d learned on. I played him ‘The Score’ (Emerson, Lake and Powell) and it wasn’t quite right. So he went and got some manuscript paper and wrote it out for me there and then.

“Another time we met in the ‘Six Bells’ and Keith had Lee Jackson with him. He introduced me to Lee but I corrected him and told him ‘Lee’ was actually also a ‘Keith’—to which Lee commented that I knew more about them than they did! Emo had a copy of his Christmas CD for me, and a photocopy of his hand written sheet music notes for ‘Fanfare.’ He told me that on the video he’d seen, I hadn’t been playing it quite right and that this would help me sort it.

“My band Noddy’s Puncture had been playing at the ‘Six Bells’ each Bank Holiday weekend for a few years. I always called Emo to remind him that we were doing it, but he never came: He was always busy or away. Aaron and his friends used to come and see us a lot. Elinor and Lee Jackson came to see us one year, along with Keith’s mother Dorothy. But Keith was always doing something else. One year when Aaron and his friends came he told me his parents were away, and invited me to a bit of a party back at their house. When I got there Aaron took me on a tour of the house. I remember seeing Emo’s old ELP stage-gear pinned to the walls here and there.

“He also took me to the barn. In what seemed like a small maze of corridors, we passed stacked up equipment on top of extremely large flight cases. Aaron commented that those were the (Yamaha) GX-1’s. It was unreal. Inside the main barn studio were two pianos back-to-back. On top of the pianos were two jackets. One was Emo’s old shiny blue fish scale jacket from the ‘Pictures’ video, and I put it on. It was a little tight but I played ‘Take a Pebble’ and other stuff with it digging into my shoulders. The other was a ‘Hammond-Goff’ jacket. Aaron told me I could have that one, so I took it with me, but when I got home after the weekend I thought: ‘Sh*t! Emo doesn’t even know I have this!’ So I called him and explained. I told him I would bring it back with me next time, but he told me it was OK, and that I could keep it.

“I went to America twice (in ‘92 and in ‘96) to follow ELP around on tour. These trips were quite some adventure for me. Sometimes I’d end up in the dressing room after a show and if there was a piano in there we’d have a tinkle and I would ask him to show me details of particular pieces. He didn’t mind at all. I once emailed Keith and asked him about the fingering for ‘Hoedown.’ He wrote it all out and emailed it back to me! He did the same with the notes for the ‘Karn Evil 9’ end sequence.

“After ending up at the after-show party at the ‘Albert Hall’ in ‘92, which was being videotaped, one day in the weeks following, Keith phoned my house and spoke to my mother. She later told me he’d ask her to: ‘Please tell Tom he’s on my bloody video!’ And I am!

“In 2005 at one of our yearly gigs at the ‘Six Bells,’ Keith turned up with his family. I didn’t know he had actually arrived until he stood next to me onstage and basically took over in ‘Tarkus.’ The rest of the show was a big jam with Emo jumping up whenever he fancied. And he was clearly enjoying every second! We were recording the gig and later Emo approved our releasing a CD of the night, which we could sell. In fact he suggested the title, and also helped in the design of the cover, hiring a ‘Lone Ranger’ costume and having photographs taken especially. Yes, he was a ‘Lone Ranger’ fan as well! He used to sign off on his emails as ‘The Lone Arranger.’ That always brought a smile to my face.

“In 2009 I had quite a serious motorcycle accident. Just weeks before, I’d had an email from Keith telling me that he was asked to play in London with Spinal Tap as he had recently played on a track on their new album. He asked if I could provide a Hammond L100 for him to use—and trash—onstage. I set about sorting one out for him, and then I had the accident. I was in hospital for a few weeks during which time Keith called me on my mobile to ask how I was. He didn’t even mention the L100: He was only concerned about my foot. Luckily I got out of the hospital in time as was able to help Keith with the gig.

“In 2010 I got the call again. ELP were reuniting for their 40th anniversary at the High Voltage festival. With my trusty L100 in tow, I went down to London to leave it for the rehearsals for three weeks. On my way home I had a call from Emo: “Is this L100 heavier than it should have been?” I told him “No, it’s the same one as you used last year.” He laughed and said, “OK, it must be me getting old then!”

“During one of our telephone conversations I mentioned that it would be nice if he could come up with a ‘message of endorsement’ for Noddy’s Puncture. He told me to leave it with him, he’ll think about it, and in that same conversation he gave me a really big compliment. He told me that he ‘admired me’ because I can ‘work stuff out’ by ear, and also mentioned that my ‘attention to detail’ didn’t go unnoticed! A couple of years ago during a set of gigs we had booked, Emo actually called me while I was in the hotel before a gig, wishing me luck for that night and complimenting the band on a video he had just seen of us playing our “Pathetique/Rondo” medley.

“In the summer of 2014 when he was in the UK, I called Keith asking him if we could meet up for a curry or something. He told me he had some friends who actually had a ‘Curry Club’ where they sampled a different curry house each time they met, and that there was one coming up. He said I was welcome to join them. During the meal Keith said he had a present for me, and he took out of his bag a really old copy of the ‘Beano’ comic, which he had bought for me. I then told him I had something for him. Ever since he let us and helped us produce that live ‘Six Bells’ CD I had been keeping his share safe and had always been looking for the opportunity to hand it to him. So this time I took the money with me, and it was a fair amount. Emo straight away told me he couldn’t take it, but I insisted, saying I wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I told him: “If you don’t want it they why not treat Mari to something with it?” Keith then accepted it, but immediately excused himself, and with a tear in his eye he went to the toilet. I was worried I had upset him but on reflection I think he was just touched by the gesture. Later on, on our way back to the car he was telling us jokes. And he proposed that we go back to that place. We all agreed, because it was an excellent choice.

“Unfortunately it was not to be. Keith left us in March 2016. It has hit everybody so very hard. A week before his funeral, I had a message from Aaron’s wife, Jo, asking if I could make a better copy of the opened out ‘Pictures’ album cover she had. She sent me a very low-resolution image of it and was wondering if I could possibly photograph mine. I instantly knew what it was for and I told her I’d do better than that, I’ll scan my vinyl cover. So the copy of the ‘Pictures At An Exhibition’ album I’d bought when I was 15 years old ended up also being the cover for Keith’s order of service booklet! This leaves me with both a warm, almost comforting feeling inside, but also starts me crying every time I think about it. Farewell Kemosabe, I shall never forget you.

“God Bless, Tomto.” 

(Producer/engineer/programmer ELP and Keith Emerson Band)

“Late one night, after a very grueling series of KEB shows, I remember dragging my butt to our hotel where I was hoping to get maybe three hours of sleep before travelling to the next gig. It was a particularly nice hotel in a great part of Italy. As I crossed the tiled courtyard toward the magnificent hotel entrance, I heard my name called and looked up in time to see Emo’s naked backside hanging out of a second floor window!

“When we were recording the “Ocean Born Mary Suite,” Keith had a great name for a part of the ‘Finale’ where the ascending chord progression naturally circles back before repeating. The part (about one minute into the song) is called the ‘Escher’ bit.

“Emo’s insistence on pushing the envelope until the roller coaster wheels are nearly coming off the rails made his music exhilarating, and his silly humor kept us doubled up almost to tears. I miss my friend!” 

Photo: Tony Ortiz


(Childhood friend; documentary producer)

“Keith and I went to what you would call elementary school together. He came from humble beginnings; his family never had much money. His father worked for the post office as a telephone engineer. His mom worked some part-time jobs; I remember she was a cook at a local school. Lovely lady. She and Keith were very close, and we have four or five hours of tape talking to her for the documentary. I remember Keith used to bring his first Hammond back home after a gig, and she would polish it up before he took it out again. When we were at school, we had a music master, a Welshman; I think his name was Morton. He used to teach music classes, exposing us to classical music, which we weren’t very fond of. He got to hear Keith play and he used to give Keith 10 to 15 minutes to play for the class. Keith would entertain us playing some boogie-woogie and things like that. Now we knew what he was really up to: He used to keep a flask in his hip pocket, and he would sneak off to have a few drinks while Keith played!” 

(Photo: Tony Ortiz

(Photo: Tony Ortiz) 


The maestro’s mug made the cover of Contemporary Keyboard and Keyboard eight times, with aspects of his work covered in several more issues. In the coming months we will post these online, but if you’re a die-hard collector, the original print versions can be found through eBay and other online sources at reasonable prices.

October ’77: An Exclusive Interview
September ’80: Rock’s Multi-Keyboard King—Then & Now
September ’82: “Karn Evil 9, Third Impression” transcription
February ’84: “Lucky Man” solo transcription
July ’86: The Phoenix Rises from the Ashes of Progressive Rock
April ’88: The Return of the King
August ’88: Emerson’s Concerto Cadenza transcription
August ’89: Howard Jones/Keith Emerson: Superstar Summit
June ’92: ELP—the Reunion No One Expected
July ’93: Emerson’s 1993 Rig
April ’94: Will Emerson Ever Play Again?
October ’95: The Trials and Triumphs of Rock’s Greatest Keyboardist
December ’10: The Legend Answers Your Questions
June ’13: 5 More Ways to Play Like Keith Emerson

from KeyboardMag


Recording Academy® Producers & Engineers Wing® 13th Annual GRAMMY® Week Celebration Honors Dr. Dre Alongside Music’s Studio Professionals

Annual event honored six-time GRAMMY winner Dr. Dre for his commitment to creative and sonic excellence and his ongoing support for the art and craft of recorded music

Santa Monica, Calif. — The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing once again presented its highly anticipated GRAMMY Week celebration on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Held at The Village Studios in West Los Angeles, the event, now in its 13th year, marked the official start of GRAMMY Week, which culminated with the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, airing live on the CBS Television Network.

This year’s gathering featured the presentation of the President’s Merit Award to Dr. Dre, recognizing both his commitment to creative and sonic excellence and his ongoing support for the art and craft of recorded music. The six-time GRAMMY-winning artist is now added to the decade-plus list of honorees chosen for their singular contributions to music production, including, among others: Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys, Willie Nelson, Nile Rodgers, Rick Rubin, Al Schmitt, Swizz Beatz, T Bone Burnett, Neil Young and Jack White. The event also acknowledges the overall industry contributions of the Producers & Engineers Wing’s more than 6,000 members.

Music industry luminaries and GRAMMY nominees and winners packed this star-studded evening, including Marcella Araica, Peter Asher, Joe Chiccarelli, Mike Clink, Bootsy Collins, Jimmy Douglass, Dave Haywood (Lady Antebellum), Ross Hogarth, Leslie Ann Jones, Quincy Jones, Emily Lazar, Lisa Loeb, Chris Lord-Alge, Gavin Lurssen, CJ Vanston, and a host of others.

Village Studios CEO Jeff Greenberg began the program by welcoming attendees, after which Maureen Droney, Recording Academy Sr. Managing Director, Producers & Engineers Wing, offered remarks on the event and thanked the evening’s sponsors. P&E Wing Steering Committee Co-Chair Ivan Barias highlighted the accomplishments of the P&E Wing and its members. Interim Recording Academy President & CEO Harvey Mason Jr. introduced previous P&E Wing honoree Jimmy Iovine, a famously longtime business partner and close friend of Dr. Dre. Iovine spoke on Dre’s work ethic and accomplishments, and hugged his friend as he took the stage to accept the award from Mason.

Iovine’s remarks went all the way back to his first impressions of Dre as an artist, decades ago: “I knew one thing: this music doesn’t sound like anything else.” He reflected further on their close relationship in the years since: “There’s only one thing he does better than producing records, and that’s being a friend and a partner.”

Dr. Dre remarked, “I’d like to thank the Recording Academy for bestowing this honor upon me, but more importantly, highlighting producers and engineers, which is extremely big to me. There are more than 6,000 members who are committed at the highest level of creativity and technical ability, and it’s an honor to be included in that group.”

Dre then introduced Anderson .Paak, who is signed to Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, who delivered a 20-minute powerhouse set with his band the Free Nationals to top off the night.

The event was sponsored by leading companies and organizations from the entertainment and music sector. Iron Mountain Entertainment Services served as Premier Sponsor for the event. Iron Mountain’s involvement is an extension of its ongoing year-round partnership with the P&E Wing. Other industry supporters of the gala evening included Amazon Music HD; Jaxsta and Shure; Music Marketing (represented brands: Celemony, FabFilter, NUGEN Audio); L-Acoustics; Audio-Technica U.S.; Fraunhofer USA; SoundExchange; iZotope; AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund; Lurssen Mastering; Roland Corporation U.S.; Genelec; and Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services’ The Recording Studio Insurance Program.

Photo caption: Dr. Dre speaks onstage during the Producers & Engineers Wing 13th Annual GRAMMY Week Celebration honoring Dr. Dre at Village Studios on Jan. 22, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. Courtesy of the Recording Academy/photo by Rich Fury, Getty Images © 2020.

from KeyboardMag


Audio-Technica Educates CRAS Students with “Physics of Microphones Master Class”

A-T’s Steve M. Savanyu’s Lecture Touched on How Different Types of Mics Work Using Basic Physics and How to Apply Them to Recording & Live Sound Applications

Gilbert, Ariz., March 9, 2020 – The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS;, the premier institution for audio engineering education, has a rich history of partnering with world-class manufacturers. The goal is so that its students may hear directly from those who design and produce the gear they currently both learn on as well as will utilize in their professional careers once they graduate.

On Feb. 27, Steve M. Savanyu – Director of Educational Services – Audio-Technica U.S., Inc. taught his “Physics of Microphones Master Class” to CRAS students at the school’s Gilbert, Ariz. campus.

Audio-Technica U.S. is one such manufacturer that relishes the opportunity to get in front of and educate the next crop of audio engineers.

“It was a fantastic event and I really enjoyed working with CRAS students and staff,” said Steve M. Savanyu – Director of Educational Services – Audio-Technica U.S., Inc. “As an educator who works in the industry, I enjoy getting out in the field to share knowledge and to learn things from others. The CRAS students showed a passion for their craft and enthusiasm to learn. I liked spending time with some of the classes and applying techniques taught. Because we work in a relationship-based industry, building good relationships is a key to success.”

On Feb. 27, Savanyu taught his “Physics of Microphones Master Class” to CRAS students. In the lecture, Savanyu touched on how different types of microphones work using basic physics, how to apply them to recording and live sound applications, and then demonstrated some of their operating characteristics. He explained that not only did he hear from CRAS students that they thought they knew it all with a particular mic but still learned more from him, but that he also learned a few things during his time at CRAS.

“It is interesting in that I cover microphones 101 on steroids, but each time I do the seminar both the students and I all learn something,” Savanyu continued. “I even picked up some cool techniques while I was there. We are all learning and that is important!”

Added David Kohr, CRAS AES Faculty Advisor, “CRAS has had a working relationship with Audio-Technica for more than 20 years, but we were introduced to Steve Savanyu at NAMM by Piper Payne who suggested that he would be great to have come and host an AES event at CRAS…and she was right! Steve is an amazing person that has such a great approach to audio education. From beginning to end he kept everyone drawn in to his presentation on The Physics of Microphones. We look forward to having him back in the fall so he can host his entire master class!”

Savanyu concluded that CRAS is a great place to learn. “In fact,” he said, “I’m a bit envious of the talent and technology the students have at their fingertips compared to when I went to school. I could see a passion and desire to learn by the students and a dedication to teaching by the staff. To the students, learn everything you can and take advantage of the gear you have access to! It probably won’t be like this in real life.”

The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences is composed of two nearby campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, Ariz. A CRAS education includes broadcast audio, live sound, film and TV audio, music, and video game audio, all taught by award-winning instructors who have all excelled in their individual fields, including sound reinforcement, audio recording and production, digital recording, troubleshooting/maintenance, and music business.

CRAS structured programs and highly qualified teaching staff provide a professional and supportive atmosphere, which is complemented by its small class sizes allowing for individual instruction and assistance for students in engineering audio recordings. CRAS has been providing quality vocational training in audio recording for more than three decades. The curriculum and equipment are constantly being updated to keep pace with the rapid advancements in the music and sound recording industries. CRAS’ course offerings and subject matter have always centered around the skills and knowledge necessary for students’ success in the audio recording industries.

The 11-month program is designed to allow every student access to learn and train in all of the Conservatory’s studios which are comprised with state-of-the-art audio recording and mixing gear, the same equipment used in today’s finest studios and remote broadcast facilities, including Pro Tools 12, API Legacy consoles, SSL AWS consoles, Studer Vista consoles, and much more. All students must complete a 280-hour industry internship to graduate from the Master Recording Program II that may ultimately lead to industry employment.

For more information on the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences, please visit, contact Kirt Hamm, administrator, at 1-800-562-6383, or email to

About The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences

Based in the heart of The Valley of the Sun with two campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, Ariz., The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS) is one of the country’s premier institutions for audio education. The Conservatory has developed a unique and highly effective way to help the future audio professional launch their careers in the recording industry and other related professional audio categories.


from KeyboardMag


TALENT SCOUT – Nicholas Semrad

He’s been making serious sonic waves with everyone from Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles, to Miss Lauryn Hill and beyond. Get to know Nicholas Semrad, our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.

NAME: Nicholas Semrad 

HOMETOWN: Currently Los Angeles, CA (by way of Brooklyn, NY and Fremont, NE) 

FIRST GIGS: My first two serious tours were with Miss Lauryn Hill and Gabriel Garzon-Montano. Shortly thereafter, I started touring heavily with Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles and it’s been off to the races ever since. 

MUSICAL INFLUENCES: My dad Mike Semrad Sr. was involved/recorded with Sam Phillips down at Sun Studios, so lots of my early listening was focused on early R&B and rock n’ roll from the ’50s and ’60s. After the jazz shredder phase that many young players go through (Herbie, Bill, etc.), I took an interesting turn and split my time between traditional Gospel music (lots of Rev. James Cleveland and Walter Hawkins) and English electronic music (James Blake, Jai Paul, Bibio). 

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: I went down the R&B/Gospel/Electronic rabbit hole so deeply for an entire decade that I’m now obsessed with almost the opposite. I’m currently listening to a ton of Wilco, Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead, Bibio and Death Cab for Cutie. 

MY BIG BREAK: The Miss Lauryn Hill and Gabriel Garzon-Montano gigs dipped my feet in the touring waters, but it wasn’t until I started playing with Cory Henry’s group that I got noticed a bit more. A video of him and I messing around at NAMM ended up going viral, and a lot of opportunities came after that. 

LATEST PROJECTS: As of late, I’m still touring with the Funk Apostles, but I’m also doing lots more work on the “electronic side” of the jazz scene, which includes many gigs with Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music, Knower, The Lesson GK, and Donny McCaslin’s group. 

FAVORITE KEYBOARDS AND WHY? I’m in love with all things Sequential. I play a ton of gigs on the Prophet Rev 2 and the Prophet X, and have been touring with the Pro-3 as of late. They can do anything from super beautiful pads to heavy, angry leads. I’m also really in love with the Yamaha ReFace series, and the Yamaha YC61 that will be shipping in April, I believe. It’s super compact, can do everything well, and is going to give the gigging market an extremely potent and price effective new option. 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? I have a ton of touring this summer (with Mark Guiliana, Knower, and Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles), I’m entering into year two of my podcast “Grid Kids with Nicholas Semrad” (available on all major podcasting platforms), and will be releasing even more sound sets and sample packs via my website. 

ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Take the word “should” out of your mind as much as possible. The more that you can focus your career on things you “want” to do and that you love rather than things that you feel like you “should” be accomplishing, the more centered you’ll feel, and the happier you’ll be. 

For more information visit

from KeyboardMag