As a member of Emerson, Lake And Palmer and a co-founder of prog giants King Crimson, Greg Lake helped create and define prog rock with his voice on classic tracks such as "21st Century Schizoid Man", "Epitaph" and ELP's "Lucky Man".
Although his input on rock music is often overlooked and underrated, the work of Lake and co. Didn't pass unnoticed by the punk movement, causing much hatred among the upcoming punk bands. One of such bands were the legendary Sex Pistols, whose loathing of ELP was way beyond normal, as one of their '70s live shows trademarks included burning life-size statues of keyboard player Keith Emerson. They were even named as the main reason for the punk revolution to happen in the first place.
In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Lake has addressed these claims, as well as the punk movement in general. And apparently he's not too keen on the whole thing, although admitting that prog rock groups really did "disappear up their own a--".
"Well, no... Look, you've got to understand. Punk is not a form of music. It's a fashion statement. If you wanna talk about real punk music, you've gotta look at people like The Who, The Rolling Stones... The people who initially had that kind of punk attitude, that right-up-in-your-face thing. But they had a form of music to go along with it. This sort of thrashing away on a chord and just screaming abuse through a microphone doesn't constitute art to me."
"You know, you can call anything art, right? You say it's art, it's art. But I don't think the music will stand up in the test of time. The fashion may. It may be a fashion icon thing with the safety pin through the nose, the kilt, the stupid, spiky hair and all that. But really, what does it stand for other than trying to jump on the publicity bandwagon to make money from rock music? That's all it was. Then following that, it was a genre a week. New Wave, garage... There was a genre a week."
"I say all this, but not trying to deny that progressive music not only ELP, by the way, but a lot of other so-called progressive bands really did disappear up their own a--. They really did look like turkeys. It all became so overblown."
"21st Century Schizoid Man" was recently sampled by Kanye West on his song "Power". When asked to share his thoughts about the track, Lake said that it still "sounds modern", adding that "it's an honor when something like that happens," despite not ever being asked to approve the use of samples.
"In a way, that song still sounds modern to me. I think when you hear Kanye West do it, or include it in his own song, it's relevant. He's speaking about that crazy world that we live in. It's as true now as it was then. It's an honor when something like that happens."
So what are your opinions about this one? Do you agree with punk being just a fashion statement? And how about that Kanye West track with King Crimson samples? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.