World-famous keyboard player was in band

Lyle Milner with Keith Emerson at Ivy Arch Studios in Worthing in 2005
Lyle Milner with Keith Emerson at Ivy Arch Studios in Worthing in 2005

KEITH Emerson, founder of 1970s rock supergroup Emerson, Lake and Palmer, grew up in Worthing and one Findon Valley reader remembers his early musical career very well.

Lyle Milner was a member of The Black Aces, formed in 1959 and based in Worthing.

“Our keyboard player (for a while) was Keith Emerson, who became world famous in his band ELP,” he said.

The Black Aces became a popular group, covering West Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey and the Brighton area.

“We had four members, all from Worthing – myself on lead guitar, Den Hall, vocals and rhythm guitar, Paddy Lovelock on bass, and Robin Cox on drums,” said Lyle.

“Our very first performance came about quite suddenly. We were practising in a back room at the Rifers Hall in Ferring, when we were asked ‘would we practise’ on the stage as the booked band had not arrived.

“We agreed, no time to feel nervous! We were on our way. We played Worthing Pier Pavilion, Winchester Guildhall and a few high-profile gigs in Hampshire, as well as many gigs in and around the Worthing area.

“We were aware of Keith Emerson and his considerable keyboard skills for some time, and were very happy for him to join us for two or three months towards the end of 1964.

“In December, 1964, after an audition for a holiday camp contract, we decided not to go ‘pro’ as we all had good jobs. We completed our outstanding gigs and disbanded in early 1965.”

Lyle later discovered his father was a semi-pro musician in the 1930s in Brighton, but he gave it up to start the family business, Lyles (Worthing) Ltd, still trading in Findon Valley.

Emerson went on to become world famous but has returned to Worthing over the years, and met Lyle at the Ivy Arch Studios in Worthing in 2005.