Carl Palmer Goes Solo

Friday, October 14: 9 a.m.
Posted by Bruce Pilato
Acclaimed drummer Carl Palmer at the Rock Hall

On October 9, Carl Palmer, the acclaimed drummer and founding member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Asia, came to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as part of the Museum's Legends series. Palmer is one of the great rock drummers. His playing ranges from the orchestral-like percussion of the Emerson, Lake & Palmer live album Pictures at an Exhibition (1971) to the powerful rock blast of the Asia hit “Heat of the Moment” (1982) – a track that also contains the sonic inspiration of Hal Blaine’s boom-boom, boom-chak from the Ronettes' “Be My Baby.”

During his Rock Hall appearance, Palmer candidly addressed his life – from his childhood in Birmingham, England, to an illustrious career that's included time in psychedelic act The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, prog rock innovators Atomic Rooster, platinum-selling ELP and Asia, and most recently the Carl Palmer Band. "I came from a family, half of whom worked in retail shops, the other half were musicians or worked in music," said Palmer. "The work I did with my dad working in our retail shops gave me my strong work ethic, but the fact there was always music being heard in my home had a lot to do with my desire to become a professional musician. I had a lot of support at home when I started out."

The sold-out audience was treated to the US debut of The Solo, directed by Andrew Cross. The 35-minute film features Palmer as he plays through five drum sequences, beginning with a snare solo and culminating with a full-kit performance that lasts more than 11 minutes. The film explores the idea of a drum solo as an art piece, as the many nuances of Palmer's drum work are captured through different camera perspectives that provide an intimate look at the art of percussion. After a viewing of The Solo, the audience watched a 21-minute video retrospective of Palmer's career that included extensive clips of his playing as drummer in ELP and ASIA. 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Director of Education Jason Hanley led an interview with Palmer, who reflected on pivotal career moments, entertaining the crowd with humorous and insightful anecdotes. "Right after I left Atomic Rooster to join the band ELP, the Rooster had a Number One song in England," said Palmer. "I said to myself, 'Oh God, what have I done?' But in the end, as you know, the decision worked out pretty well."

The Carl Palmer band began its US tour this week. Learn more at:

WATCH: Carl Palmer performs in a clip from The Solo

Bruce Pilato owns and operates Pilato Entertainment, Marketing & Media, which works with a roster of platinum selling US and British artists. He was executive producer of the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show. A longtime rock journalist, Pilato's byline has appeared with more than 1,500 articles, including work for Crawdaddy!, New Music Review, Mix Magazine, Hit Parader, Rock Scene and more.


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