Greg Lake of 1970s rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, died Wednesday after "a long and stubborn battle with cancer," his manager says. He was 69. A progressive rock pioneer, the British vocalist and guitarist first formed King Crimson with Robert Fripp and Mike Giles in the 1960s, per the BBC. Pete Townshend of The Who described their debut album—which reached No. 5 in the UK and No. 28 in the US—as "an uncanny masterpiece," per the Guardian. However, Lake soon after left the group to form a new one with keyboardist Keith Emerson and drummer Carl Palmer. Emerson, Lake and Palmer then played alongside Jimi Hendrix and The Who at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.
The band, known for its extravagant live performances and lengthy tracks, went on to release six albums that went platinum before its popularity waned with the arrival of punk, reports USA Today. The band officially broke up in 1979, though its three members reunited in 1991 and again in 2010; Emerson committed suicide in his California home in March. Lake also had a solo career, with his single "I Believe in Father Christmas" reaching No. 2 in the UK. The song sprang from the "crass corporate financial exploitation" of the holiday, Lake told the Guardian last month. "As much as I love everyone having a good time … it's more important to make some spiritual human contact, or visit someone lonely." (Read more obituary stories.)