November 2, 1944 in Todmorden, Lancashire, England, Keith Emerson began playing
piano by ear at age 4 by picking out melodies of show tunes he heard his father
playing. He started taking lessons at age 8, but never really received much
formal training beyond a few years of private lessons. By the age of 14, he was
supporting himself musically by playing dance halls, bingo sessions, and
accompaniment at his aunt's ballet studio. In his late teens, he moved to London
and joined the band Gary Farr and the T-Bones, touring Germany, France, and
Britain. His early influences were primarily jazz artists such as Fats Waller,
Art Tatum, Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Smith, Oscar Peterson, and Jack McDuff. Classical
composers also became influential in his music including J.S. Bach, Aaron
Copland, Rachmaninoff, Bartok and Alberto Ginastera amongst others. In his
twenties, he formed a band called The Nice, to back jazz/blues singer P.P.
Arnold in England.