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Pictures of an Exhibitionist: From the Nice to Emerson Lake and Palmer - The True Story of the Man Who Changed the Sound of Rock Paperback – January 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: John Blake (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844540537
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844540532
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,453,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One expects a rock n’ roll memoir to be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing if not the inflamed passions, tortured egos, precipitous climb and calamitous descent of its subjects. Emerson, composer and keyboardist for the Nice and, later, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, gives readers all this: from flag-burnings to overeager groupies, from musical mishaps to drunken, drug-addled excesses, as well as a host of backstage celebrity interactions. (Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart and a wonderfully catty portrait of Leonard Bernstein as a supercilious old perv are just a few that dot the book’s landscape.) Wildly theatrical onstage, Emerson played Norman Bates to his organs and keyboards, hacking away at them with knives and swords, often leaving them ruined and smoldering in his wake. The problem is that, as narrator to his own life, Emerson seems too, well, nice to rev the engine needed to drive such a book properly. He pulls back when he should barrel full-speed, and his writing lacks the killer incisiveness of his keyboard play. Slow to start, often clumsily overwritten and self-serving, Emerson’s memoir shows little sense of the narrative arc of the author’s life, and so the book trudges on in a litany of events, happenings and episodes that ultimately don’t add up to more than a series of pictures at an exhibition. Emerson seems too self-absorbed to be an acute observer of others, neither does he appear reflective enough to cast light on the shadows of his own life. Fans of Emerson’s bands will relish the scenester details anyway, but others may find themselves wishing he could write with the same brilliant abandon that he applied to his music.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Unputdownable! A hysterical, intriguing, and important musical memoir.” -- The Sunday Times

Customer Reviews

Both music and art being surreal.
Ken and Norah Fritz
Emerson says what he liked and what he hated and doesn't seem to give a damn really.
Keith is a very engaging storyteller.
My Opinion

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
At times highly witty, at others merely insipid, these are the recollections of a rock icon. Emo chronicles his childhood and his adventures with progressive bands The Nice and ELP. Most of the stories are rather well known from other biographies, but it's refreshing to read them from his specific point of view. There are some excruciatingly painful memories involving conflicts within the bands and a personal battle with addiction. There are some anecdotes which I feel are inappropriate for public consumption, and better left private between so-called friends.
Overall a delightful read if you are not turned off by repeated references to bodily functions, name-dropping, and drug abuse which was apparently prevalent during his heyday in the 70's. An amusing yet quite sad portrayal of the glory days of the greatest rock keyboard player of all time.
I give it only three stars, because honestly that's how it rates among all the other books I've read. If I were to rate it among books about rock-n-roll specifically, it would get five easily.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Mark D Burgh on July 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like the other reviewers here, I was and am a big ELP fan. As soon I heard Keith Emerson's playing, I was dumb-struck by his virtuosity and musical vision, one that, alas, did not play out too well over the years. I eagerly awaited this book, mainly because I wanted to hear what Keith Emerson had to say about his music.
There's a scene in "Spinal Tap" when David St. Hubbins is playing a beautiful piano piece and Rob Reiner asks him what the music is called . St. Hubbins replies "Lift my Love Pump." Well, I think that might sum up this book, and I can't say I wasn't warned by the title.
There are virtues here, however. Emerson has a breezy, conversational writing style that goes down easy, and he doesn't write a self-serving book in the least. The first part of the book, from his childhood to his breaking up the Nice is the best part, funny, and heartwarming. It struck me how much Emerson loved Lee Jackson and Brian Davidson, and the affection for his once and future bandmates mixed well with the stories. I often found myself laughing out loud.
The ELP and after sections are troubled. It's clear Emerson never liked Lake, and had a brotherly and patronizing attitude towards Palmer. But love between bandmates doesn't necessarily make great music, however, after reading this book and listening to the ELP oveure, I finally sensed the coldness that so many critics complained about.
The descent into drugs, the sadness of an abortion caused by miscommunication, the wrecking of Emerson's hand and the subsequent operations all make the second half of the book more than a bit sad.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Doug Lundquist on August 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ok, so Keith Emerson is not the most highly polished writer in the cosmic universe. And sure, there are parts of his story which are sewn together rather disjointedly. Looking at it overall it seemed to me there were days where he wrote brilliantly and days where the results were average. I'm certainly no authority but I'm of the opinion if he could have gone back and revised the writing from those average days to the polished brilliance found elsewhere the results may have been a best seller. What you get is an honest and open account of one of the music world's great artist and performer's life. I've read other reviews that did not approve of all the road story details this book contains. Not me. When I read a biography about any person from any walk of life I want it all, real, and the way it truly was. Mr. Emerson guides you through it all with a revealing look behind the scenes of his professional and personal life, and yes, there are some interesting, startling, and amusing insights. If you're looking for behind the scenes Emerson, Lake, and Palmer info and dirt there's enough here to satisfy. He raises well found criticisms about Greg Lake's sometimes caustic behavior but then on the other hand he intimates how much of a truly good person Carl Palmer is. He also relates stories that could only originate from one of rock's elite members such as being on tour with Jimi Hendrix, and the Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett, his not so friendly rivalry with the band Yes, or motorcycling with Ringo Starr as a passenger. I am pleased to have read this and recommend you do the same.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Janet L. Hazen on August 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Given the frequent disdain of the musical press for ELP's music, ELP has always been one of the least-biographed musical acts of the rock era. As a fan for decades, I looked forward to this book for many years. I'd certainly rather have the book than none at all, but it was not what I had hoped for. I agree with the other reviewers that it unfortunately gives little insight from Emerson about his music. The pacing is uneven, with a lot of detail about his early years and scarcely any more than a scattered medley of events beyond the end of the 1970's.

The two major things I took away from this book were:

1. Considering Emerson's dislike of Greg Lake, it is a miracle that ELP made any recordings at all or were able to be such a formidable live act.

2. The real center of Emo's existence for many years was not music, but drugs. I suspect that the sketchiness of many parts of this autobiography is the result of Emo's cocaine addiction.

If you love ELP, you will want this book and probably have already read it anyway. If not, you won't gain anything that you've already missed in the music.

The photo section was of extremely poor quality. A coffee table quality book about ELP with good photos is needed and I hope someone will publish one.

It would be fascinating to read an account by Greg Lake of the ELP years as well as the years that followed, but he seems to work about as often as Halley's Comet appears. I think Lake could do a well-structured and well-written book (Emerson hasn't done so here) but as with hopes for any new music from Lake, I'm not holding my breath. I'm afraid Lake will croak before that happens. I hope to be proven wrong. Perhaps Palmer's might be the most fascinating account of all.
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