In Remembrance of a Lucky Man, Greg Lake: 1947-2016

“The greatest music is made for love, not for money.”-Greg Lake

And let me assure you that Greg meant every word of it, too. Every word. Greg Lake lived to make music; music that he truly loved. Quality music. He was always striving for perfection in every aspect, every facet of what he was creating: music.  He loved to create it, loved to share it. Simply loved it, period. It was the air he breathed. In 2015, a year before he left us, Greg told the now defunct, online publication Examiner: “As long as people want to hear me play and as long as I’m able to play, then I will. I enjoy playing and performing. If I wasn’t doing that, what else would I do?”

In the almost twenty years that I have been a music journalist, I have never met another artist whose love for music appeared to be so absolute. It was more than love, more than a passion. It was a reverence for music.  In regard to its affect on the human soul, Greg Lake said, “Music is an emotional experience, and that is what imprints itself on the soul.” Music was both sacred and magical to the man I was lucky enough to have known in the early 1990s.  A very special man and artist who left us exactly one year ago tomorrow on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at 8 pm UK time in his beloved London, England. Greg was 69.

Music was both sacred and magical to Greg Lake. Greg received his first guitar at only twelve years of age, and immediately wrote his first song, ‘Lucky Man.’ He shared the same guitar teacher as Robert Fripp and Andy Summers: a local music teacher by the name of Don Strike.

I met Greg Lake on a blind date back in 1993, when both of us were living in Southern California. At the time, all the members of Emerson, Lake & Palmer were living in the Los Angeles area, as they quite literally worked their collective asses off 24/7 to make a musical “comeback” for the band. This second time around was presenting a daunting array of challenges which the band had not previously experienced during their ‘glory days’ of the 1970s.

For Greg, his personal ‘cross to bear’ was the private battle he was waging against COPD. The steroids he was taking to help control its symptoms were playing havoc on his body in every conceivable way, both in form and function. Adding to his distress was Greg’s decision to keep it a private battle. He chose at that time not to discuss it publicly, nor with anyone he was seeing at that time.

This resulted in some confusion for me, as I patiently tried to sort out exactly what was going on with Greg’s health issues. Greg:”Shirley, I’m supposed to be on steroids right now…I mean, I’ve been on steroids but…dammit! I can’t seem to keep the weight off! You work in the medical field. What the hell can I do to get some of this weight off my arse?!” Me: “Why are you taking steroids?” Greg: “Well, I’m not taking them right now!” Me: “Why were you taking steroids? Why would you want to take steroids?” Greg: “I DON’T want to take steroids! I want to lose the damn weight! Do you know of any way to lose the weight now?!” Me: “Have you tried exercising? Have you tried cutting back on sweets, eating more protein? Try doing an aerobic form of exercise, that might help! If you’d cut back on your alcohol consumption that would help A LOT! Alcohol has a lot of calories!” Greg: “ARE YOU THICK?! I’m not talking about THAT!! I’m just asking you what’s the best way to lose the weight?!” A deafening quiet fills the cabin of the boat. Fifteen minutes passes. Greg: (in a voice as soft as clouds and sweet as honey) “Is cycling an ‘aerobic’ exercise?” Sigh. My poor Greg.

When not on tour, making yet another television appearance or in the studio, Greg was splitting his time between a rented home and a boat which he kept docked in the Marina Del Rey area. As I think about it, I suspect that Greg spent more time on that boat than he did at the far more comfortable home he rented. As I look back, these twenty-four years later, I’m both amused and horrified at the extent to which he would push my limits of physical endurance, just for us to be near the ocean at all times. Greg was born and raised in the English coastal community of Dorset, and the love of the sea was imprinted on his soul almost as strongly as his love of music. I found that out the hard way, the very first night we spent together.

That first, unforgettable night we spent together wasn’t spent at some luxury hotel with room service, fresh linen sheets and a view of the ocean. Instead, it was spent on the shore itself; literally ON THE SHORE. ALL NIGHT. In his CAR.  As I shivered in the front seat at 2 am in the wintertime, hardly dressed for the occasion in a sequined cocktail dress with a plunging back, I tried to focus on the stunning view of the Southern California ocean, its waves softly illuminated by the moonlight, as I quite literally froze blue in the cold. “Turn the engine ON, Greg! Turn the heater ON! Jesus Christ!! This car is like a refrigerator!” All the while, Greg is positively beaming with pure joy:”Can you believe that view, Shirley! Is this a beautiful place or what! I love Southern California! I love the lifestyle folks enjoy here! I think I’m gonna make this my permanent home. Why go back to England, where it’s cold in the winter, when you can enjoy a warm(!) night like this?!” Indeed.

Greg Lake enjoying ‘the pause that refreshes’ back in the early 1970s. A heavy smoker for most of his life, Greg was smoking about three packs a day when I knew him in the early 1990s. After developing COPD and being placed on steroids to control the symptoms, Greg went on the then-popular ‘nicotine patch’ in an effort to stop smoking by the time that ELP were on their Canadian concert venue stops, on their 1993 tour.

Adding to my discomfort was the fact that Greg was a smoker; a heavy smoker. He must have easily been going through three packs a day when I knew him. As I am highly allergic to tobacco smoke, I forbade him smoking in the car. The lethal combination of concentrated tobacco smoke and freezing cold would have surely sent me to ER that night, had I not mustered the courage to tell him “No way in hell are you smoking in HERE!” As a result, Greg would duck out every 15-20 minutes, all night long, to enjoy that ‘pause that refreshes.’ He’d return, his body a two hundred-plus mass of pure ice, because it was me who was wearing his heavy, leather coat. He never complained, bless him.

It was the next morning, over a fried shrimp and calamari “dinner served at breakfast” on the marina pier, that I finally got to know Greg…and he got to know me. Boy, did he get to know me! Never before (or since) have I gone out with anyone who asked me so many personal-almost invasive-questions on a first date, as Greg Lake did that day! “Where were your parents born? Are they still alive? Where do they live? What did your father do for a living? Did your mother work? Are they religious? Do you have any brothers and/or sisters? What did you tell me that you do for a living? Do you enjoy your job? When was the last time that you went to your doctor…and what were you treated for?” The questions went on and on, to the point that it was almost impossible for me to eat a bite of my dinner (and I was hungry)!

Finally, in desperation, I did something utterly gross but necessary: I literally spit the food out of my mouth, right onto my plate, telling Greg: “Listen, I can’t get a bite in edgewise for all the endless questions you keep firing at me! I’ve answered all the questions I’m gonna answer until after we finish this meal, okay?! Why don’t you tell me about yourself?” That exasperated request opened the floodgates, and those gates didn’t close until hours had passed.

Greg Lake at his English countryside estate with his Field dogs, circa mid 1980s. Greg adored and kept dogs his entire life.

To my surprise, unlike anyone else I’ve gone out with, instead of talking about his family, his job…the usual subjects that I’m accustomed to hearing about on a first date…Greg began talking about his life’s passions: music, literature (poetry in particular), history (with an emphasis on the courts of Elizabeth I and Henry VIII), fishing and the “art of war.” Oh…and animals. He loved animals, especially dogs. He talked about his “Field dogs” and his favorite in particular: a lively Irish Setter he named “Oliver Cromwell.”

As he spoke about music, his eyes got an amazing look to them: a kind of intense glow that’s hard to explain but impossible to forget all these years later. “Do you like music, Shirley? No, do you LOVE music? Music has literally saved my life! It IS my life!  If I’d had to work a ‘real’ job, I think I would have committed suicide years ago! I can’t imagine doing anything else. Music touches the soul; imprints itself on your very soul like nothing else can! It’s MAGICAL; pure magic!” I told Greg I felt exactly the same way; that had I not discovered music early on in my life, that I likely wouldn’t be alive today.

To my delight, I discovered that it was the Beatles whose music first set our hearts on fire; lit that ‘eternal flame’ that was still ablaze all these years later. I told Greg the story about how I first discovered the Beatles through a cousin of mine who was schizophrenic. How, for all her life, her main passion was the Beatles. For about the first twenty years of her life they were her sole passion. Their music (and Paul McCartney!) were her reasons for living. Greg listened intently, and nodded in agreement.

Greg excitedly recalled the first Beatles single that captured his attention and made him a life-long fan of them and their music, ‘Please Please Me.’ Years later, Greg enjoyed the privilege of performing in Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band. He and Ringo got along very well, and Greg enjoyed every minute of it. Greg told Ringo: “I was in a successful Rock & Roll band (ELP). But you were in a band that changed the world!”

‘Lady Greensleeves.’ Artist unknown. Image courtesy of Flickr Images Public Domain.

‘Greensleeves’, complete with lyrics:

Another delightful discovery was finding out we shared a passion for the “court music” of Henry VIII…as well as the man himself. One song from that period was nearest and dearest to our hearts: ‘Greensleeves.’ We agreed that from the moment we first heard it, we were smitten with it! I eagerly told Greg that it was written by Henry VIII himself. He had never heard that, and was impressed (note: today most musicologists no longer believe that it was composed by Henry VIII). It was at that moment that Greg suddenly-right there in the restaurant-began singing Greensleeves…loudly, lol!  Unlike me, he knew every lyric by heart. Without the least bit of embarrassment, Greg proceeded to sing the entire song, right there at our table! Unsure of what to do in such a public situation, I did the only thing one could do: I joined him! Surprisingly, hardly anyone seemed to take any mind of us.

The post-World War II, American made, asbestos-insulated, prefabricated house that Greg Lake grew up in looked identical to this one located today, not far from where Greg grew up in Oakdale, Poole, Dorset, England. In the early 1960s, the British council tore down most of those houses, but some-as this one-are still standing and in use today. Photo courtesy of Graham Jones. All rights reserved.

Later that night, tucked away in his boat docked at the marina, Greg somberly discussed the aftermath of the German bombing of England during World War II.  Greg: “Shirley, you can’t begin to imagine how utterly decimated England was after WWII! Most people lost their homes; some forever! For many years there wasn’t enough money available after the war to rebuild public structures, much less private housing. If you had traveled to England during the ‘Swinging Sixties’ you’d have been horrified to see the extent of the damage that was still there! A full twenty years after the war ended, there was still rubble present in much of London!”

I told him that, speaking as an American, I was ashamed that America had not entered the war sooner to help bring aid to England’s brave civilians left behind to struggle through the nightmare at home. At that, Greg was quick to correct me: “Your country may have entered late, but believe me, it made a big difference in the lives of my parents and countless other families! Many children were evacuated out by American troops and, after the war, American companies came in and built ‘temporary’ housing that-for many-became permanent housing for many years. My family were among those!” His love for America, and especially Americans, is one of the things I remember most about Greg Lake.

Greg Lake, aged six. In school, Greg was an average student whom his teachers described as “messy” and “unfocused.” He also did not yet display a talent/interest in music. All that changed after Greg received a guitar for Christmas in 1959. Photo courtesy of Little, Brown Book Company. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Greg Lake with his mother “Pearl” Lake in their home in Poole, Dorset in 1948. The family lived in a tiny, asbestos-lined, prefab house until it was torn down in the early 1960s. Afterward, the council moved the Lakes to a nearby council-owned cottage where Greg’s parents continued to live until Greg bought them a small bungalow in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Little, Brown Book Company. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Although Greg was eager and willing to talk about other subjects, one subject he was almost loathe to discuss was his family. I had to ask him specific questions to get answers from him that weren’t vague. Like my own parents, his were “working class” from humble beginnings. He stressed to me how hard his father worked, and that his parents had never owned their own home until he bought them one (in the 1970s, after Emerson, Lake & Palmer became hugely successful). I told him that I had bought my parents a home in the late 1980s, but that-for the most part-our relationship continued to be strained. Greg proceeded to tell me in no uncertain terms that the “adult” thing for me to do was to get on with living my own life and to let my family “carry on with living theirs.” I could sense, from the tone in Greg’s voice, that this was a sensitive subject for him, and I didn’t pursue asking him any more questions about his parents. Only recently did I discover that Greg had (for whatever reasons) become estranged from his parents, shortly after his marriage in 1974.

Greg Lake attended Henry Harbin school in Oakdale, Poole, Dorset, England. His classmates remember him bringing his acoustic guitar to school every day, strumming it in the hallways, at lunchtime and after class. Photo courtesy of Graham Jones. All rights reserved.

He said that his father-Harry Lake-was an “engineer.” Many years later, I found out that, in actuality, his father had worked as a machinist, standing on his feet all day. It also took me many years to learn the full story of just how supportive his father had been in helping his son to achieve his dream of a successful career in music.

Greg began performing very shortly after receiving a guitar for Christmas in 1959. Before his 13th birthday, Greg was already performing in local venues, with boys much older than himself. Some of the venues in which the band performed would not allow a minor like Greg in without “adult supervision.” Harry Lake accompanied young Greg on countless school and work nights, acting as a kind of road manager, roadie, chauffeur and bodyguard. All this rolled into one big, jovial man that-as Greg got older-he became the spitting image of.  Lake’s childhood neighbor and school chum, Graham Jones observed, “As Greg got older, he looked more and more like his father, Harry. Harry had the same round face and big frame as Greg got as Greg got older.” As of this date, I’m still trying to locate a photo of Harry Lake.

Greg Lake, age twelve, in 1959. That year, Greg received his first guitar-a cheap acoustic-as a Christmas gift. So began a long, successful career in music. Photo courtesy of Little, Brown Book Co. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

His mother Lily, known to her family and friends as “Pearl”, was a full-time housewife. Like my own mother, Greg told me that Pearl was a heavy smoker for most of her life, and-like my own mother-she smoked in front of her young children without a moment’s hesitation. I remember telling Greg that I thought that was “gross” behavior for a mother to do, and that I always resented my own mother for doing that to her children. Greg reminded me that this was common behavior for their generation and-until the 1970s-no one really understood how harmful ‘second-hand’ smoke truly is…and as usual, he was right.

By the time I knew Greg, both of his parents had died. Many ELP fans mistakenly believe that Greg wrote the song ‘Oh, My Father’ in honor of Harry Lake, after his father’s demise. In reality, the song was written and recorded eleven years before Harry Lake’s death. Sadly, Greg didn’t attend the funerals of either of his parents, as he was on tour at those times. Notwithstanding, Greg’s parents were devoted to their only child throughout their entire lives. Recalled Graham Jones, “Greg’s parents proudly displayed framed, golden LP discs that the band had received as industry recognition for their album sales. The discs were on prominent display on one wall in the lounge of their small bungalow. Greg’s parents just adored their son, always!”

‘Oh, My Father’:

Harry passed away on January 4, 1982, and Lily followed him on January 15, 1988. Their ashes are buried at the Poole Cemetery in Oakdale, Poole, Dorset, England.  In 2016, with the kind assistance of Graham Jones, I was finally able to locate the grave of Greg’s parents. Time and the elements have done their job on the headstone, rendering its inscription difficult to read.

Happy Memories of Harry R. Lake Aged 64  At Peace 4th January 1982 Also His Loving Wife, Lily At Peace 15th January 1988 Aged 71. Reunited


Tomorrow, December 7th, 2017 marks the first anniversary of Greg’s death. Greg would have turned 70 on November 10th of this year. He waged a long (just over three years) and truly brave battle against Pancreatic cancer, before finally succumbing to it. Tomorrow, ELP fans all over the world will be lifting a glass to toast the man who was one of Progressive Rock’s founding fathers, and I will be among them. However, I won’t be raising a glass in Greg’s honor. Instead, I will be lifting a FORK, as I enjoy a cheesecake! That is one of my fondest memories of Greg: sharing a big, sticky cheesecake together, and we ate every bite.

I recall a funny story a friend of mine told me about Greg and his bandmates on tour in 1992. It revolved around an after-show party that almost (but not quite) happened in Greg’s hotel room. Anticipating a hungry crowd…a crowd that never came…Greg picked up the phone and proceeded to order literally everything on the hotel’s room service menu. The piece de resistance? A giant cheesecake. Don’t ask me what Greg did with all that food! The next morning, as Carl Palmer stood at the hotel lobby’s service desk, checking the band out of the hotel and back on the road, Carl literally hit the roof when he saw that enormous food bill; all of it charged to the band’s ‘travel expenses’ of course, lol!

On December 7th, 2017 ELP fans all over the world will be lifting a glass in honor of one of Progressive Rock’s founding fathers: Greg Lake. Greg Lake would have been 70 this year.

It still seems inconceivable to me that he’s gone. My mind cannot, will not fully accept that he has left us. In fact, mere months before his death, Greg was announcing his plans for a tour to promote not one but two recent projects he’d just completed: his long-awaited autobiography and a documentary film that gives a comprehensive overview of his long, seminal career in music. The book has recently been published (‘Greg Lake: Lucky Man’) while we still await the release of the documentary, produced by Bob Harris. Dear Mr. Harris, guess what I want for Christmas…NOW!! Okay, pretty please?

Greg Lake had an amazing energy to him, the likes of which I haven’t experienced an equal to in my (almost) sixty-two years on this earth. For me, just being around him was both invigorating and exhausting…and I would gladly do it all over again. He was a “force of Nature” to be reckoned with; a man that I’m sure I will remember long after I’m so damn old that I can no longer even remember my own name. It was more than his mega-watt smile, more than the way his eyes would twinkle as he grinned at you. He just had that certain something about him, as both a man and an artist, that made your senses positively ignite as you watched and listened to him. It made no difference whether he was onstage sharing the experience with his audience, or offstage lying next to you, telling you a story; any story. You simply could not keep your eyes off of him…or your hands either, for that matter! As the late Robert Palmer would say, Greg Lake was “simply  irresistible.” Simply unforgettable.

I would like to thank the following people for their kind assistance and cooperation:

Graham Jones, for providing previously unpublished photos and for sharing his insights/recollections of Greg Lake’s family and childhood. You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar!

Little, Brown Book Company, for allowing the use of photos from the book ‘Greg Lake: Lucky Man’

Cynthia Blair, for allowing this writer the use of her exquisite painting, ‘Moonchild.’ Cynthia, your artistry never fails to leave me breathless!

All photos, except where indicated, provided by The Emerson, Lake and Palmer Appreciation Group.

Special note: Over the years, countless photographers and fans took photographs of Greg Lake, many of which have found their way onto the internet and into Public Domain sites. I welcome any/all photographers whose work was used in the making of this article to please contact me at your convenience. I will gladly credit you by full name for your fine work as it was presented here.  Furthermore, should you desire your work not to be included in this article, please alert me and I will graciously, promptly delete it.

Shirley Pena

About Shirley Pena

A native of Southern California, Shirley Peña began her career as a music journalist almost twenty years ago, writing for her websites "Stars In My Eyes: the Girlhowdy Website" and "La Raza Rock!" and progressed to creating various fan sites on Yahoo, including the first for New Zealand singer/songwriter Tim Finn. From there, she became a free agent, arranging online interviews for Yahoo fan clubs with various music artists (Andy White, John Crawford, Debora Iyall, John Easdale, etc.). She also lent her support in creating and moderating a number of Yahoo fan clubs for various music artists from the 1990s-today. As a music journalist, Shirley Peña has contributed to a number of magazines (both hard copy and online), among them: Goldmine, American Songwriter, Classic Drummer Magazine and UK-based Keyboard Player (where she was a principal journalist). A self-confessed "fanatic" of 1960s "British Invasion" bands, Classic Rock and nostalgic "Old Hollywood ", she also keeps her finger on the pulse of current trends in music, with a keen eye for up and coming artists of special merit. Shirley Peña loves Los Angeles, and is thrilled to join the writing staff of The Los Angeles Beat!
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62 Responses to In Remembrance of a Lucky Man, Greg Lake: 1947-2016

  1. Gerhard Mertens says:

    Hi Shirley, Thanks for Sharing your experiences with Greg Lake. It helped me to understand what kind of man he was. As a longtime fan of ELP I was very sad about his and Keith Emerson’s Death. Both have accompanied me nearly my whole life long and still do. Do you know where Greg is buried? Some day I hope to visit his and Keith’s Graves.

    • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

      Hello Gerhard,

      I apologize for my delay in responding to your question.
      No, at this time I don’t know where Greg is buried,
      except that it’s somewhere in London (according to a
      former friend of Greg’s).

      I’m glad that you enjoyed my article on Greg Lake, and
      I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and let me
      know so! Thanks for sharing your question with me and
      the other readers, too! It’s a VERY GOOD question that
      I hope someday to find the answer to.

  2. Julie LakeJunkyyy says:

    Incredible story!! I just run into this article.. So where you there when Greg and the guys were recording “In The Hot Seat”?? And… LUCKY GIRL! OMG! Do you have any photos of you and Greg together??? Did you manage to meet Keith and Carl??? Bravo!

  3. Julie GregLakeJunky says:

    Incredible story!!! So where you there when the guys were recording “In The Hot Seat”?? And… OMG!!! LUCKY GIRL!!! Did you manage to meet also Keith and Carl? What were they like?? Do you have any photos of you and Greg together???
    Bravo! Love this piece
    (i tried to post a comment few days ago, but nothing happened :/ )

  4. Patricîa Currie says:

    Wow ! That was an eye opener thank you for posting. I’ve grown up and grown old with ELP always loved the music but especially the music Greg made he was a poet and strangely enough I’ve always imagined him in a Tutor court. Some body once said he had the voice of an Angel but could equally strip the paint off the pews lol. I loved him all ways but prefered his ballads. What was the story behind Gregs beautiful Angel pendant all I know is it had great sentimental value and that somebody stole it. I live very close to keiths final resting place and I often go there with flowers. I only ever saw Greg on stage sadly I never got meet him . I’ve adored Greg all my life and you truly are a very Lucky Lady. X

    • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

      Hello Patricia,
      THANKS for taking the time to read my article, and to share your
      thoughts and kind words regarding it. I simply LOVE your quote
      about the late, great Greg Lake: “He had the voice of an Angel
      but could equally strip the paint off the pews.” I will remember
      that quote, always.

      Yes, I too can easily envision Greg wandering the Tutor court,
      splendidly attired, enrapturing everyone with his beautiful voice,
      poetry and lute playing! I have always thought of Greg as a man
      from another, more genteel era than today’s. I know he would
      have LOVED to step back in time…forever.

      Greg’s famous Angel pendant was commissioned and designed by Greg
      himself; a totally unique and beautiful piece of art like no
      other, since HE designed it himself. I cannot offhand recall
      exactly what year he had it made, or where it was made. I
      THINK it was made sometime between 1971-1973. Greg LOVED that
      pendant, and I know he was quite upset about losing it. He
      never told me exactly how it came to be stolen. I’ve always
      assumed it was stolen by a fan who was enamored and wanted
      it as a “souvenir” to remember Greg by.

      I would LOVE to be able to visit Keith’s final resting place,
      bless him. Bless you for visiting him often, and bringing him
      flowers! Be sure to bring him YELLOW flowers, if you can. He
      simply ADORED yellow flowers!

      Thanks again for stopping by, and sharing your thoughts
      and questions!

      Cheers, 🙂
      Shirley Pena

      • Patricîa Currie says:

        Hello Shirley thank you for getting back to me I appreciate it. Yes the ELP boys lived in many places throughout the world. I know Greg designed his beautiful Angel in the early seventies before he got married in 74. And like you I think it was probably purloined by an adoring fan as a keepsake. Most Angels are depicted as male simply because they are but Gregs Angel was definately a girl. He wasn’t particularly religious so I thought it may represent someone who had been special to him , and ex perhaps. Oh well we will never know. I knew Gregs weight gain was due to steroids it wasnt difficult to see i have someone with copd he was an 80 a day man i was quite hurt at a few nasty remarks made about MY Greg and his weight gain, the guy was supposed to be a fan ! GREG truck me as a very private person and I respect that, I enjoyed reading lucky man but would of liked him to have opened up a bit more. I enjoyed your in rememberence of Keith emerson , had a lol over the bum snaps, I bet those three were a riot ! If you ever come to my neck of the woods let me know and I’ll take you to see where keith is laid to rest. It’s close to a very nice pub ! We could have a cool glass of something. Strange that you say keith loved yellow flowers the first flowers I took were yellow roses. kind regards patricia x

        • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

          That sounds lovely, Patricia! We will definitely keep in touch,
          and the next time I’m in England I will give you a call!

          • Patricîa Currie says:

            Hello Shirley hope all is well with you. I have now joined the ELP appreciation on Facebook, I have never met such a warm group of people. Yes anytime you manage to get across the pond you will be most welcome . Take care xx

      • Regina Lake says:

        Shirley Pena never Met Greg Lake.
        Her Article is pure Fantasy. To write herself into a fictional “ Love Story “ and passing it of as Really is insane .

        • Lynn says:

          Thank you Regina, I read her article and couldn’t believe my ears. I know you and Greg were together happily until his untimely death. I know how much he love you, your daughter, and adorable grandchildren. He was one of the best musicians, song writers and his voice was incredible.

        • Nancy says:

          Greg truly loved you and your daughter and he would have never done such a thing.

  5. Becky Finkel says:

    I truly love Emerson Lake and Palmers music. But the soft place in my heart will forever and always be for Greg Lake. I love his voice and his ballads. No one had the angelic voice that he had. I learned a lot about him reading your article. But one thing does puzzle me, you said you met him on a blind date? He was a married man wasn’t he? Was he and his wife separated? And I mean more just in miles. I’m not judging, just trying to get it clear in my head. I always suspected that medications might have been part of his problem with weight gain. I have a brother who is also coping with OCPD, so I understand what that means. Thank you for posting all the pictures, several I’ve never seen before. It gives more understanding of Greg. Thanks to Greg for sharing his talent with the world. I know he’s in heaven with Keith, Cozy Powell, Gary Moore, John Weston and Chris Squire along with all the other musicians who left before and after them and they are all jamming, playing and singing on that great stage. What a wonderful concert that will be when we get there and I’m going to be right in front. Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • mi mi says:

      also……I don’t recall ever reading anywhere, that they all lived together. I never read anything about Greg Lake ever living in southern CA

      • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

        Hello Mimi,

        As a member of the Emerson, Lake and Palmer Appreciation Page on
        Facebook, I’m certain that Becky Finkel will agree with me when I
        inform you that many-if not most-ELP fans are well aware that at
        various times(and in various places) Greg, Keith and Carl lived together.

        It’s also fairly well known (by most ELP fans) that at one time Greg
        Lake lived in Southern California. Greg casually discussed this in
        interviews he gave over the years, and this has also been discussed
        in various ELP-related fan sites, such as Facebook’s Emerson, Lake
        & Palmer Appreciation Page. Since you were not aware of having read
        about this anywhere prior to reading my article/memoir, I’m happy
        that I was able to bring to you some NEW revelations about the band.

        A major reason that I decided to write this article/memoir was to
        bring to Greg’s fans some NEW insights/information about Greg on a
        PERSONAL level. If I have managed to accomplish this for even ONE
        reader/fan of ELP, then I’m quite contented. Mission accomplished!

        No, there are no “secrets” as to why I didn’t include any photos
        of Greg and I together in this article. As I said to another reader,
        I have no photos in my possession of Greg and I together. Yes, there
        were PLENTY of photos taken of us together, as well as myself with both
        Keith and Carl, when the band were living in Los Angeles. All were taken
        by the band themselves, the day that Greg brought me to meet Keith
        and Carl.

        I haven’t the foggiest idea what became of those photos. If you
        happen to meet Carl Palmer, feel free to ask him if he knows what
        became of them…and tell him I’d LOVE to have those photos if they
        are still in existence!

        Thanks for taking the time to read my article/memoir, and for sharing
        your thoughts in regard to it!

        Cheers, 🙂
        Shirley Pena

    • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

      Hi Becky! 🙂
      Since you and I know each other fairly well
      (via Facebook’s Emerson, Lake & Palmer
      Appreciation Page) I have replied to your
      question in a private email. It’s always
      a pleasure to read your comments on Facebook’s
      ELP Appreciation Page! Take care!

  6. C says:

    Is there any sort of collaborating information available? To me this looks like a story written by a smitten fan. I have yet to seen any thing here that convinces me that this isn’t a contrived story. Perhaps she’s trying to write a story for Harlequin Books No pictures of the two of them together that isn’t a fan photo-op would be a good start. As of now this story is just a waste of electrons on the Internet and my time for reading this trash.

    • mi mi says:

      AGREED!!! THANK YOU!!!!

    • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

      Hello Charlie,
      Thanks for stopping by, and I want to take this opportunity to address your reluctance to believe my memoir, especially since it does not contain any photos of Greg and I together. However, I can fully assure you that it’s 100% TRUE; every word. If I endeavored to write a “romance novel” about my having known Greg Lake, I can assure you that it would have been VERY different from what I have reported in this memoir. If that were the case, then it would have been a lot more romantic/idealized than the facts that I have reported.

      If you go back and take a minute to re-read my article you will see that it’s hardly romantic or “gushy” in any way, shape or form. I stuck to the FACTS. For information that I did not have in my personal possession, I consulted a gentleman (Graham Jones)who grew up with, went to school with,was a childhood neighbor of Greg’s. The additional information that Mr. Jones kindly provided does-in my humble opinion-provide collaborative information to this article.

      I sincerely apologize for not providing any photos of Greg and I together, although plenty of them were taken by both Greg and Keith. I have never been one to take photos of myself with friends, family or lovers. Hell, I lived with a gentleman for years, yet I failed to have even one photo taken of the two of us together. I used to know the artist Peter Green, and I have exactly ONE photo of us together, courtesy of a fan who spotted us together at a supermarket (in Oxted) and asked to take a photo of the two of us. When I met Syd Barrett in his home (in the early 2000s) we spent an entire afternoon together, yet I took not one photo to “prove” this happened nor for “bragging rights” afterward. For whatever reasons, I’ve simply never been good about ensuring-or caring-about getting photos taken of myself with others, period.

      My decision to write this article wasn’t based on anything other than shedding NEW light/insight into the complex, private man that Greg Lake was. After his death, only two other women who had intimately known Greg, wrote articles about having known him. IMHO neither of those articles provided any new information/insights into Greg. Greg remains the most complex, fascinating man I have known in my sixty-two years. After reading Greg’s autobiography (“Lucky Man”) I read comments from fans who-like myself-read the book and felt it did little to shed new light upon Greg as a PERSON. Greg as a person fascinated me every bit as much as Greg the artist. I wrote this memoir in an effort to share my personal experiences with his fans, and to hopefully help them to better understand him as a wonderful, brilliant, complex PERSON.

      I certainly did not write it to be viewed as a “waste of electrons on the internet” nor as “trash.” I’ve been a journalist now for almost two decades; having written for publications such as Goldmine, American Songwriter and Classic Drummer. I take great pride in reporting THE TRUTH in everything I write…and no, I have never written for Harlequin Books,lol! I’m sincerely sorry that you view it as such, but I respect your right to your opinion, as well as your right to publicly declare your opinion thusly. Take care, Sir! Thanks for taking the time to read it, and to share your opinion. As Carl Palmer once said “It takes
      DIFFERENT opinions to make a horse race.” 🙂

      • Delores Pumphrey says:

        Hello there. I just came across your writings of Greg Lake. I thought it was a great article and it touched more on Greg’s personal life. We fans are all fascinated with a particular musician of not only their performances and tours but their personal life. There are several musicians who live their lives in a private setting such as Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues. Like many other fans, I preferred Greg’s ballads. He had such a beautiful voice. From the many pictures I’ve seen of him, he has this ever present twinkle in his eyes. I do not know if it is an angelic look or a mischievous look. You answered my ponderings on why the weight gain. The side effects of the medications one has to endure. Speaking of the Moody Blues, Greg appeared on the Blues Cruise I think back in 2013 or 2014. The Blues Cruise continues on each year with just Justin putting it on with several musicians appearing. I could kick myself for not getting tickets when Greg played.. A fan on the cruise put up songs on YouTube that he sang as well as a Q & Answer part. Thank you for your article. It was most informative. I would not worry by that arse digging into you. Some men just cannot help it that they are an arse. It comes natural to them. I did get angry at his remarks and I was not the writer! I fear I would not have been so courteous to him as you were. This American would have blasted him. When I listen to Lucky Man, it takes me back to when I was 18. I get that same feeling when I hear Nights in White Satin by the MBs. Both Greg and Justin had angelic voices. I listen to both singers’ songs everyday and I am 68 years old. Take care and thank you so very much.

        • Kare6 says:

          True. Greg & Justin, True angelic voices…just imagine if they would have collaboration, only can only imagine!

  7. Michael Patrick Galligan says:

    I hung out with Greg most of all the tours . He always made sure I wasn’t hungry. He would by me drinks . I must have asked him to sign over 100 things . Every time he was so gracious wanting to know the history behind the memorabilia. Just a couple times he Asked me for my help and he was so gracious even at that ! Greg asked me for my E MAIL AT THE END of a tour I told him I did not have one . Greg said Mike your E MAIL Should be ELPMIKE@AOL.COM SO I SET IT RIGHT UP . I WILL never forget the nicest man I ever met . RIP YOUR BUDDY Mike Galligan

    • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

      Hi Mike,

      It was a genuine pleasure to chat with you! Your memories
      of Greg are simply wonderful to listen to, and I think
      that folks deserve to hear your stories about Greg!

      Would you be interested in sharing some of your memories
      of Greg for THIS article/memoir? If you’d be so kind to
      do so, please contact me at the following email:

      Your friend, 🙂

  8. Michael Patrick Galligan says:

    Thank you Shirley for making my day most enjoyable. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of the guys . Specially the man who took his time to get to know me . Love to .talk to you again you have my Email . I don’t go on Facebook since its unAmerican love Mike Galligan

  9. Susan North says:

    Shirley, I just saw you article on Greg Lake and wow, how fortunate you were to meet him. I loved their music from the very start and had a few LP’s of THE NICE. I was quite young had did not drive so I could not try to follow ELP around to get to meet Greg, who I somehow just knew he was this amazing person and would have loved to talk about his music endlessly.
    Thank you for the insight into a musical genius along with Keith Emerson, keyboardist extrodenaire, as I had thought on a personal level, he was.
    Lately I cannot stop listening to his early music and his voice! That voice and the lyrics!
    Thank you again.
    Susan North
    (Near Chicago)

    • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

      Hi Susan!
      I’m delighted that you enjoyed my memoir on the late, great Greg Lake!
      Like yourself, I was too young during ELP’s heyday of the 1970s, and
      during most of the 1990s was working far too many hours at my demanding
      job. As a result, I too did not follow ELP around to see them live in
      concert. Thank goodness for Youtube!

      Like Greg, Keith was a musical genius and an extraordinary person and
      artist. Like yourself, I cannot stop listening to their music and “The Voice.”

      May you enjoy a warm and wonderful holiday season!

      Shirley 🙂

  10. Betsy Flint Villalobos says:

    Shirley, I do not know how I missed this article last year, but I’m so blessed that I found it and go to read it now. So many wonderful pictures and stories to describe such an intricate and illuminating man. Love hearing them. Your personal stories add to Greg’s persona and I find him even more captivating and wanting to know more. His music, his playing, his voice are what we all know and love. But it’s those stories that lets us into that private door, that makes us understand that man behind what we love. Beautiful article, my friend. Thank you. I will talk with you soon love.

    • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

      Hi Betsy!
      I apologize for being late in getting back to you, Sweetie.
      I’ve had way too much on my plate-so to speak-lately. This
      has included my current battle with a NASTY upper respiratory

      Since we are Facebook buddies, I will be getting in contact
      with you this weekend, via Facebook, to catch you up on
      what’s happening within the ELP community. This will
      include an update on next year’s Greg Lake auction!

      Love ya! 🙂

      • Patricîa Currie says:

        Hello Shirley I hope you are recovered from your illness now and that you enjoyed Christmas and the new years celebrations. I saw that Gregs auction was cancelled last year and have found it difficult to find much info. On it accept it will be held in New York in 2019..I will keep my eye on your postings for updates. Will you be going ? On a recent visit to keith I was sad to see that somebody, maybe a fan, had taken the little grand piano ornament off of his gravestone, people never cease to amaze me. On a lighter note my last few visits I’ve found lovely little muddy fox paw prints decorating the black marble. I’m sure keith is happy about that. Well take care Shirley look forward to hearing how you’ve been doing …Patricia xxx

  11. Hello Shirley, I happened on your article today and greatly enjoyed reading it. What a sweet, sensitive, and illuminating remembrance you have written. Sincere thanks for sharing this.

    Best wishes,

    • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

      Hello William,

      Thank you so much for your kind reply; it really made my day!
      I’m so pleased that you enjoyed my memoir on a very special
      man and artist: Greg Lake. It was a pleasure and an honor to
      have known him. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate
      to ask me.

      All the best, 🙂

  12. C V says:

    Was there a typo in your dating period of 1993, because I thought he married Regina in 1974?

    • Shirley Pena Shirley Pena says:

      Hello CV,

      No, there was no typo. At the time I knew Greg, he was separated from Regina. According to Greg, they were discussing getting a divorce. No more or less. Of course, as we all know, Greg and Regina got back together again. The divorce never happened. Yes, Greg and Regina were married in 1974. Thanks for stopping by, and should you have any other questions please feel free to ask.

      Cheers, 🙂

      • C V says:

        Hi Shirley.
        Appreciate the clarity. This story only brings more adoration for an amazing talent. Can’t believe I’ve just now discovered Greg Lakes music in 2019? Thanks.

      • Brooksy Cofield says:

        They were still married so you both committed adultry and that’s nothing to brag about.

  13. Maddie B. says:

    Hello Shirley- what you describe seems like old souls meeting together again. A deep heart and mind connection. I’m sorry for your loss. it’s nice that you two did “reconnect” in this lifetime.

    I recall 1993 was the year Keith was divorcing as well. What with the new album and all, 1993 sounded stressful for the lads in general. ELP was on the Howard Stern show that year I think. Howard mercilessly badgered Keith about his divorce as only Howard can do. A tough interview to listen to, but the boys were in good humor.

    Thank you for sharing your cherished Greg moments with us.

    Maddie B.

  14. Iris says:

    How could you have a blind date when Greg was married to Regina and where was she and not with her husband ???

  15. Richard Thompson says:

    Dear Shirley, thank you so much for this article it was so informative. I’m sitting here watching Emerson Lake and Palmer show on axis TV as I read it I really became melancholy because then I realized what Greg was going through and what Keith was going through as brilliant and talented as they were we are all human beings in the end and we all have our flaws and we all have our mortality.

    Very classy very very classy article.

    Richard Thompson

  16. Kristin Zeiber says:

    Thank you for a fascinating look into Greg Lake, the man. It would have been an honor, pleasure and privilege to meet him, as he was such a humble, real, genuine person. What a treasure it must have been to get to know, and spend time with Greg! I am about a decade (+/-) your junior, and although I remember Lucky Man from my youth (one of my very favorite songs EVER, and was blown away when I heard Greg had written it age age 12!!), I am just now catching up with listening to ELP’s work. Wow, sheer brilliance! All three are geniuses, of course, but Greg’s gentle, smooth, and soothing voice is like icing on already delectable cake. It must have been amazing to just listen to that voice for hours. This glimpse into Greg’s life proves that, although a “rock god,” he was, after all, a human like all of us, one whose talent made an incredibly significant artistic impact upon this world. May Greg rest in peace and know that we treasure his musical legacy to us. I wonder if he realizes how many peoples’ lives have been changed for the better because of him. How lucky we all are! Peace and love to you.

    P.S. I’ll be joining that ELP Appreciation Page on Facebook!

  17. Angie says:

    Thanks Shirley for a glimpse into the life of Greg Lake. He apparently loved music
    Quite a lot. You can see that in his face while he plays guitar. I would like to know
    how he came about using the Indian rug during each of hi
    performances. Do you know?. Also, is there any news of where he
    may be buried, and do they accept flowers? I can’t make it to London, but
    I would like to send flowers from here in the USA. Maybe you could email me and let me know.
    I bought the Trilogy album when it first came out. They
    amazed me with their sound and Greg’s vocals.
    Again, thanks, and you should write a follow up book
    about your journey with the elusive Greg Lake!

  18. Terry Nation says:

    Thank you Shirley for your fascinating insight into the life of Greg Lake. I found all that you shared of great interest. Greg’s musical legacy is much loved and bullet proof. However, it was so sad to hear you say following his marriage to Regina in ’74 some sort of rift came between devoted parents and their only child, the subject you infer was a no go area of discussion. The fact Greg Lake never attended either of Harry or Pearl’s funerals in the 80’s sits uncomfortably with the reader like an unhealed wound. Whatever disagreement, pain or poison that festered within Greg’s family life, it must be viewed from outside as a great failing, knowing this son could not at the very least bring himself to be at his Mother’s side for support at his Father’s funeral, despite whatever perceived reason he was unable so to do. Likewise, it hurts to know he was absent again at his Mother’s funeral. With regard to the final resting place of Greg himself, I would surmise he might have been cremated and Regina and daughter Natasha scattered his ashes in a place personal to him/them.
    Kind regards,
    Terry Nation

  19. the truth says:

    you never met Greg Lake

  20. Mitchell Steven Felder says:

    There is one word that sums up Greg Lake, and that word is genius.

  21. Pamela J Sullivan says:

    Dear Shirley Pena. Did you actually spend the night with Greg Lake in his car? Wow. I read your whole post. I’ve been osessing over him lately. My husband took me to the California Jam April 1974. ELP. Were the grand finaly. Anyway, Mu husband recently passed away November 27 2019. Im missing my husband and remembered that him and I had the time off our lives and the beginning of our marriage. So I’ve been watching and reading all about ELP and Greg Lake. I just purchased the book GREG LAKE A LUCKY MAN.
    thank you, SHIRLEY PENA so much for your enlightening post about your time with Greg Lake in Marina Del Ray, CA

  22. Fabio says:

    Thanks Shirley for these amazing memories about Greg.

    I met Greg in his backstage, after a show here in Florence, “Songs for a lifetime” tour on 2012, it was winter. In the dead of the night, he was still there for us fans, sitting on a big chair and, as I entered the room, he stood up shaking my hand…only me and him, the great Greg Lake.
    Regina was around but soon she disappeared…we talked about Elp, his bass prowess, about my elder brother who played bass on his records at home.
    Then he signed a booklet from his CD Anthology over an old ELP shot (“talking about old times”). He showed up as a smiling, warm and extremely polite person…humble, in a word. He left me a great positivity and joy, I was so emotioned that I really couldn’t believe I was there in conversation with the biggest hero of my musical youth.
    May God bless his soul now because he blessed and touched so many people with his Art.
    Forever in our hearts, thanks Greg.

  23. Pig Pen says:

    I read nearly halfway through the article before I realized what it was: FAN FICTION! I’m really embarrassed to admit that.

    • hodjieBabba says:

      It is an embarrassing article! Why can’t shirley consider Regina Lake? She is in mourning from the loss of her husband!

  24. Christine says:

    I read this article when it first came out but hesitated to comment because I had nothing good to say about it. This article reeks of fantasy, and is distasteful and disrespectful. Car sex has always been a rock-star standard for quickies and groupies. If Greg had a home and boat nearby, why be in a freezing car all night? Most grown women, who have a shred of self respect, would have insisted on a hotel room. Yet you brag about it and publish it because he’s famous, even when his wife and family are still alive to read it. Ugh! A fling with a married man, whether real, or made-up as this seems to be, is something to tell your best friend about, not boast to the world. There was no new or interesting information in this article, not one photo, and that’s not something I’d expect from from a legitimate journalist. I’ve been a big ELP fan from the beginning and I read everything I can about them. This article was trash. I’m sorry I ever read it.

  25. Kevin M Kane says:

    I just found this article by accident. Being a fan since 1969, this was a real gift. You presented a much deeper look into Greg’s life, I very much enjoyed it. You’re very blessed to have known him personally.
    I shared it with the FaceBook group Remembering Greg Lake

  26. Kevin says:

    Greg’s daughter claims you never even met him and issued a public statement. As I read the article I was puzzeled as bios of Greg state he was married to the same woman from 1974 to his death in 2016.

    • mindboggle says:

      This disgusting story that shirleey made up is very distressing to Greg’s family and friends! For the sake of decency, this article should be taken down.

  27. Deborah Klingler says:

    TO Shirley Pena,
    I find your article about Greg Lake very disturbing.
    He was a married man & a family man. To think he didn’t attend either of his parents funerals does not fit him.
    I think what you wrote is the fantasy of a groupie/ fan. It’s very sad.
    Here in the states.

  28. Beverly Pryor says:

    Shirley, I am jealous of your chance to know Greg. I simply have a plethora of questions but would simply like the answer to 1. What color were his eyes? You’re a very lucky woman.

  29. Ann Marie Evans says:

    I also don’t believe your story!!! Regina accompanied Greg to most of his concerts!!!! Give it up girl!!!!

  30. Hello Shirley . Your stories of Greg (both in this blog and the one on Keith Emerson) are very compelling and convincing. Since, as you know, there are so many contentions that you are just an obsessed fan who imagined all of this, it would be really nice if you would give the world a way to have more confidence in what you have shared (like some form of corroboration from Carl Palmer or someone else that saw you together or some other form of proof). Then Greg’s legacy could be amended to reflect not just the idealized version of him, bu also what actually happened in his life, including you as a part of it. Don’t you have anything that supports your stories?

  31. Lisa Wyninger says:

    Shirley Pena, thank you for writing this beautiful article about Greg Lake. Today, on “70s Classic Music and Memories” on Facebook, I shared the video of Greg singing “Still…You Turn Me On” while doing a solo show back in the 70s. He was chewing gum. Despite this, his incredible voice was fully erotic and filled with love. I called it, “The sexiest song ever!” So far, an hour later, I’ve received 27 “Likes” and “Loves” and some lovely comments. By writing this story you made Greg and his life come alive! With sincere appreciation, Lisa Wyninger, Gig Harbor, WA State

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