Ooh, What Lucky Men They Are . . . Emerson, Lake And Palmer Came To Town And Were Treated Like Gods.

Posted: November 25, 1993

MONTGOMERYVILLE — They stood in line, juggling rolled-up posters and hugging weathered LP covers. Some were nervous, while others searched anxiously for something memorable to say.

Call them fans. Call them groupies. But don't tell them that their idols are has-beens.

They're ELP devotees.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer, for those not part of the club. The '70s British rock band said to have pioneered art rock. Beethoven and Keats meet the amplifiers.

Hundreds gathered last Thursday from as far away as New York - and as nearby as North Wales - to get a glimpse of their heroes.

The venue was unlikely. A newly opened Circuit City store.

But, hey, the trio didn't come to play.

They came to sign autographs and promote their new four-CD set, The Return of the Manticore.

The promotion, part of the group's current publicity tour, was effective. Fans grabbed up the $49.95 box set as they searched for any item worthy of ELP's signatures.

Still, it was an improbable scene - Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and Carl Palmer at a table near wide-screen TVs and computer software.

The incongruity seemed lost on the fans, who only had eyes for the three musicians.

For many, it was a chance to remember their youth. And for some, such as Mike Gaynor, it appeared to be something akin to a religious experience.

After more than an hour in line, Gaynor, 32, got his 20 or so seconds with the living legends. So did his wife, Karen, and their two young daughters.

An electronics technician by day, Gaynor, of Northeast Philadelphia, was looking for some inspiration for his own musical career as a drummer. He brought his practice drum pad for ELP to sign.

Three scribbles of black ink made the pad one of Gaynor's most prized possessions.

"They're far and away the best. There's nobody else like them," he said. ''ELP - that's it. Every morning, when I wake up, it's the first thing that goes on (the stereo)," Gaynor said.

Vic and Trish Goffredo of Pennsburg gush at the mere mention of the group. He has liked them for 20 years, she since she met him two years ago.

"This is the only band we'd stand in line for," said Trish Goffredo, one of the few women in the crowd.

"An ELP concert was never the best place to get girls," her husband mused. "It has attracted guys because it's not danceable music. Women want something they can dance to."

Trish Goffredo, 28, landed the signature coup of the night.

Each band member signed her husband's old T-shirt with an iron-on of a 1972 ELP album cover. They signed it while she was in it.

"They behaved," she said, noting that Vic supervised the signing.

Like Gaynor, Vic Goffredo hopes for a music career.

A graphic designer, he works nights as a guitarist with a new rock group, Tapestry, and dreams of the big time. His band plays some ELP, but tries to stick to original songs and listens to ELP for inspiration.

"They are real musicians," he said. "This kind of music is coming back."

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