Carl Palmer is a drummer’s drummer. A consummate professional, a brilliant technician and a dynamic showman, he has thrilled listeners and audiences alike for nearly four decades with some of music’s most memorable bands including Atomic Rooster, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Asia and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Along the way his dexterity, speed and mastery of the drums, combined with his infectious stage personality, have secured for him a respected place in history as one of Rock and Roll’s greatest drummers.
Carl Frederick Kendall Palmer was born in Birmingham, England, on March 20th, 1950. From the beginning it was clear that music was in the stars for the young Carl Palmer. His grandfather played the drums, his great-grandmother was a classical guitarist; and his father sang, danced and played the guitar and drums as a semi-professional entertainer. In a musical family where even his brothers picked up the guitar and drums, Carl’s fascination with music began early and classical violin studies followed, and by the age of 7 had learned to play the banjolele.
As he grew older, his tastes began to broaden. He was influenced by a film he saw in 1959 entitled “Drum Crazy” (aka “The Gene Krupa Story”). It starred American film icon Sal Mineo and captured Carl’s imagination. The film set him on his way and he was hooked. His biggest influences from that point forward were Krupa and drum legend Buddy Rich, who would later become a close personal friend of Carl’s. For his eleventh birthday he received a new drum set and immediately began to study the instrument.
Already a respected working drummer by 15, Carl was asked to join Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds. Farlowe and the band recorded “Out Of Time,” written by Jagger and Richards of The Rolling Stones, which propelled Farlowe to the top of the UK charts. At the age of 18, Carl joined up with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown at the absolute peak of their success following the smash single “Fire” (“I am the God of Hellfire…”). In 1969, Carl returned to the UK to form Atomic Rooster. It was with Atomic Rooster that Carl enjoyed his first real success as a founding member of a band.
But it would be in the spring of 1970, Carl received a phone call that changed his life forever. Keyboard virtuoso Keith Emerson from The Nice, was forming a new band with King Crimson founder Greg Lake. Immediately dubbed a “super-group” by the media, Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) entered the musical arena with great expectations.
The classic single “Lucky Man” became a hit, and their stage show quickly became the stuff of legend. They recorded and released five albums in four years, all of which reached platinum status. Among them: Tarkus, Trilogy, and Brain Salad Surgery.
An insane touring schedule followed and the legendary scale and musicianship of ELP’s live show continued to grow. Tired from a grueling four year run which had seen the release of 5 albums as well as untold hundreds of tour dates, the band decided to take a hiatus. The material created during this period was the basis of the ELP albums Works Volume I and Works Volume II, which were released back to back in 1977. The band continued to tour and record for two more years, before disbanding in 1979.
Opportunity knocked again for Carl when he was approached to form a supergroup concept for Geffen Records. Eventually, along with King Crimson vocalist/bassist John Wetton, Yes/ Buggles keyboardist Geoff Downes and Yes guitarist, Steve Howe, Asia was born.
The band’s self-titled debut album Asia was released in 1982 and a tour began. Asia’s debut LP went to number one, selling over seven million copies worldwide. Along the way singles such as “Heat Of The Moment”, “Only Time Will Tell”, “Wildest Dreams” and “Sole Survivor” dominated the charts for months.
In 1985, Asia went their separate ways. Carl would spend the next seven years playing in different combinations of bands with Keith Emerson and some of the ASIA members. Finally, in 1992, ELP returned with Black Moon. They would remain together until 1998, and reform for one final appearance in London at the High Voltage Festival in 2010.
Carl set out on a schedule that included drum clinics, master classes and teaching children with special needs. In 2012, he became a Fellow at Solent University Southampton, UK, lecturing in music business classes and career direction.
In 2001, Carl once again set out to create his own new band with two accomplished musicians: bassist Simon Fitzpatrick and guitarist Paul Bielatowicz. Together, they have toured the world as the progressive trio “Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy”. The thought of Carl Palmer assembling a progressive trio might seem like he was relying on formula, especially since the band’s material consisted mainly of ELP classics, but this was indeed a new direction. Purely guitars-driven, this band put a new face on the ELP classics, performing them with musical complexity and a raw energy not heard, since the earliest days of ELP.
In 2006, Carl also regrouped for the long awaited reunion of the original ASIA, with Steve Howe, Geoff Downes and John Wetton. To date, Carl has sold nearly 50 million records.
In 2012, Carl was approached by the innovative art company, Scene 4, to do a series of art images based on his rhythmic and musical ideas. The images are a unique blend of light, shadow, reflection and musical performance, related his legacy.
Carl is an avid collector of contemporary art and antiques from all over the world. His knowledge of contemporary art fuelled his interest in pursuing his own art projects with Scene 4. To date, he has released two collections: Twist Of The Wrist and The Rhythm of Light.