He is a rock
drummer, percussionist and composer born Carl Frederick Kendall Palmer in Handsworth, Birmingham, England to a musical family where his father was
a guitarist, drummer, singer and dancer, his mother was a
multi-instrumentalist, his grandfather wa a
drummer and his mother was a violinist.
He began by
learning the violin but moved his interest to the drums from a young age
when he was taking interest and influence from drummers such as Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. When he was 11 years old he got a
drum kit for his birthday and studied drums for the next three years with a
local performer. When he was 14
he joined The Mecca Dance Band and the next year became a member of King
Bees who later evolved into The Craig and released the single “I Must
Be Mad”. At the same time
he performed on a session for a single release by the The
By the time he
was 16 he was becoming noticed as a drummer and joined up with Chris Farlow & The Thunderbirds who released the single “My
Way of Giving” and were produced by Mick Jagger.
In 1968 he
became the replacement for the drummer Drachen Theaker in The Crazy World of Arthur Brown after they
had found success with their hit song “Fire”. He remained with them for no more
than a year when during their US tour he abandoned them and returned to
the UK with the organist, Vincent Crane.
He and Carl
put together the group Atomic Rooster but the time he spent with this new
band was also brief although performing with them on their debut self-titled
album released in 1970.
That same year
he became acquainted with Keith Emersen and Greg Lake and realising they could work well
together then formed the trio Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who became familiarly known
as ELP. This was the best thing
he could have done as their unique sound which encompassed a wide range of
music genres brought them tremendous success. Their debut album which was
self-titled found them success from the start when it reached No. 4 in the UK album chart and No. 18 in the US.
It also produced the single “Lucky Man” which reached
No. 48 in the US Billboard 100.
year, in 1971 the released Tarkus which would be
their first and only No. 1 album in the UK as well as reaching No. 9 in the US. That same year they released the
live album Pictures at an Exhibition which brought them a No. 3 in the UK and No. 10 in the US.
Trilogy and Brain Salad Surgery
were released in 1972 and 1973 respectively, both of which reached the Top
10 in the UK album chart and the Top 20 in the US.
Many more live and studio albums were released over the next few
years and in 1977 they saw their first and only British singles chart
success with “Fanfare for the Common Man” which is still heard
regularly on the radio and TV today.
In 1979 they decided
to go their own separate ways both to date have released 17 live albums, 9
studio albums, 13 compilations and 13 singles.
In 1980 Carl formed
his band PM and released the album Carl
Palmer’s 1:PM. The band did not continue following
the lack of success of this recording.
During 1981 he
became a member of the progressive British rock supergroup
Asia who released their debut self-titled
album in 1982 which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart and
No. 11 in the UK. The single “Heat
of the Moment”, which was the first single release from it, shot them
to the top of the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks charts in the US with and
further No.4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 although achieving a lesser hit in
the UK where it reached just No. 46.
They also received a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist and
Billboard named it the Album of the Year Continuing to perform with them
throughout the years he rejoined them after their hiatus from the mid 1980s
to early 1990s and remained with them until 1992 when he left to reform
Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
In 1989 he had
also got back together with Keith Emerson as well as the bass guitarist and
singer Robert Berry and performed with the trio known as 3. They released their only album The Power of Three in 1989 before
disbanding that same year.
In 1991 he
released his own double album Do Ya Wanna Play which
included his “Concerto for Percussion”.
ELP performed several concerts over the next few years as well as releasing
the 1992 box set Black Moon, In the
Hot Seat, two further studio albums and several DVDs. They only lasted until 1998 when
there was a rift with Greg Lake and he left the band.
In 1998, once
ELP had gone their separate ways again, he joined back up with John Wetton of Asia
and performed in the band Qango who released
their Live in the Hood in 2000.
Since around that
time he embarked on a tour with his The Carl Palmer Band, who he still
tours with, and has subsequently six albums that came out annually from
2001 to 2004 and then one in 2006 and one in 2010. These are Anthology, A World With Bob Ross The Black Cat Demands the Unknown,
Working Live – Volume 1, Working Live Volume 2, In Concert: Carl
Palmer Plays the Music of ELP and Working
Live – Volume 3.
He rejoined the
original members of Asia in 2006 and is still performing with
them to date. The group has released
many albums and singles but none have achieved the same success of their
In 2010 ELP
got together for a one-off concert as headliners of the High Voltage Festival
in London and a double live album has since been
a guest artist on recordings or having his compositions performed by other
artists, his work can be heard on Progression
by Jon Anderson, Gold by Roger Daltrey and
Hammer It Out by Keith Emerson, Dizzy’s
World by the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars, From the Beginning: Retrospective by Greg Lake, Five Miles Out by Mike Oldfield, Rockford
Files by Mike Post, Extended
Versions by Ringo Starr, Live at the Marquee by Sweet, King Biscuit Flower Hour by Triumph and The Anthology by John Wetton.
In the field
of musical education Carol has held a series of drum clinics and master
classes in the UK, Europe and the US.
He has been listed
in the Top 10 of the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine and was one
of the first drummers to be recognised by Modern Drummer Magazine when they inducted him into their Hall