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(Reuters) - Greg Lake, the singer and bass player for British 1970s progressive rock groups Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and King Crimson, has died of cancer, his former manager said on Thursday.
Lake, 69, who composed the hit song "I Believe in Father Christmas," died on Wednesday after what manager Stewart Young called "a long and stubborn battle with cancer."
"Yesterday, December 7th, I lost my best friend to a long and stubborn battle with cancer. Greg Lake will stay in my heart for ever, as he has always been," Young wrote on the Emerson, Lake and Palmer Facebook page. It was not clear where Lake died.
Lake's death comes less than a year after the suicide in March of keyboard player Keith Emerson, who was found at his Los Angeles home with a gunshot wound to the head. He had been battling depression.
Drummer Carl Palmer on Thursday paid tribute to Lake's "soaring voice and skill as a musician."
In a note on his Facebook page, Palmer said he had fond memories of "those great years we had in the 1970s and many memorable shows we performed together."
"Having lost Keith this year as well, has made this particularly hard for all of us. As Greg sang at the end of Pictures At An Exhibition, "death is life." His music can now live forever in the hearts of all who loved him," Palmer added.
Lake first joined King Crimson in 1968, spending about a year with the group and playing on albums "In the Court of the Crimson King" and "In the Wake of Poseidon".
He later met up with Emerson, and formed Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The trio recorded eight albums, including "Pictures at an Exhibition," that fused classical music with rock and jazz before breaking up in 1979, and later reuniting in the early 1990s for two more albums.
Lake's biggest success however was the 1975 Christmas single "I Believe in Father Christmas," released as a solo effort, and which is still played around the holidays.
Lake was quoted as telling Britain's Guardian newspaper in an interview last month that the song was intended as a riposte to the commercialization of Christmas.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Alistair Bell