GREG Lake, who died on December 7 at the age of 69, was a major figure in the musical genre of progressive rock and played to some of the biggest audiences in the world.

He also had a solo Christmas record, I Believe In Father Christmas, which was only kept off the number one spot by Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

He was born in Bournemouth on November 10, 1947, the son of Harry and Lily (nee Parsons), and was raised in a prefab home in Dale Valley Road, Oakdale. Harry worked at Hamworthy Engineering and Greg went to Oakdale Junior and Henry Harbin School.

Greg took guitar lessons with Don Strike in Westbourne, where he met a fellow pupil, Wimborne’s future rock star Robert Fripp. He went on to play in a succession of local bands.

In 1964, over a chat in Fortes cafe in Bournemouth’s Westover Road, the star-to-be Al Stewart suggested that he, Greg and drummer Lee Kerslake should form a trio, but Greg declined.

After playing with Unit Four, Time Checks, the Shame, the Shy Limbs, the Gods and the Nice, he became bassist in 1969 with Fripp’s new band King Crimson. They almost immediately found themselves at the top of the album charts and were soon performing to an estimated 500,000 people in Hyde Park along with the Rolling Stones.

He left in 1970 to form Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer. With Greg playing bass and guitars, the group became one of the biggest acts of the 1970s, performing to 600,000 people at the seminal Isle of Wight Festival of 1970. They played Bournemouth’s Winter Gardens that October and were back in 1972 on the night of Greg’s 25th birthday.

The Echo noted that his parents were in the audience, among 40 family and close friends. “The entire hall gave him a rip-roaring version of Happy Birthday To You,” the report said.

Known for their extravagant stage shows, ELP at one time had 140 staff and their own doctor. “I suppose it was a kind of rolling madhouse but I’d still say that with ELP everything was done with the best of intentions. We wanted to put on a show that was great,” he told the Echo in 2006.

During a break in ELP’s activity in 1975, Greg co-wrote and recorded I Believe in Father Christmas, which remains a seasonal favourite.

In 1977, the Echo reported that Greg had fallen in love with Stanbridge Mill near Wimborne, which he was set to buy from Lord Shaftesbury for £70,000 – a price he could reportedly fund from three performances.

ELP broke up in 1979 and Greg returned to the Winter Gardens for a solo gig in October 1981.

In 1992, ELP were back together at the BIC, where Lake voiced his delight at being “back home after all these years”. His one-time cleaning ladies Win and Shirley were in the guest seats and told the Echo’s Jeremy Miles: “Just to think we used to pick up his dirty underpants”.

For all his material success, he told the Echo in 2006 that the “acquisition of material wealth is really a very fleeting pleasure”.

“By and large the things that mean something in life are the love of your family, the sun shining and peace of mind – the fact you can sleep at night because you haven’t done someone down,” he said.