Keith Emerson's Girlfriend Sheds Some Light on Keyboardist's Suicide

Keith Emerson Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Jorgen Angel/Redferns

Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer photographed in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1972.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer keyboardist Keith Emerson died last week (March 10) at age 71. Following the sad news, Santa Monica police confirmed Emerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, with his death being ruled a suicide.

Over the weekend, Emerson's girlfriend Mari Kawaguchi -- who found his body at their shared California residence -- spoke to U.K. publication Daily Mail and shed some light onto why the legendary keyboard player may have taken his own life.

Keith Emerson Dead at 71

"His right hand and arm had given him problems for years. He had an operation a few years ago to take out a bad muscle but the pain and nerve issues in his right hand were getting worse," she said. "He had concerts coming up in Japan and even though they hired a back-up keyboard player to support him, Keith was worried. He read all the criticism online and was a sensitive soul. Last year he played concerts and people posted mean comments such as, 'I wish he would stop playing.' He was tormented with worry that he wouldn't be good enough. He was planning to retire after Japan. He didn't want to let down his fans. He was a perfectionist and the thought he wouldn't play perfectly made him depressed, nervous and anxious."

8 Essential Keith Emerson Songs

In addition to his classic work in the prog-rock canon with Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Emerson also performed with influential British band The Nice in the '60s. 

Billboard reached out to a rep for Emerson, Lake & Palmer for comment.