British rock legend Keith Emerson has died, aged 71.

The Emerson, Lake and Palmer co-founder’s body was discovered at his Los Angeles home by his girlfriend on Thursday night, and he was subsequently declared dead, according to TMZ.com.

A cause of death has yet to be determined, but a source told the publication his passing was “sudden” as he had been due to embark on a tour of Japan next week.

Representatives for the band have since confirmed the news.

A post on the group’s Facebook page reads: “We regret to announce that Keith Emerson died last night at his home in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, aged 71. We ask that the family’s privacy and grief be respected.”

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Meanwhile, Emerson’s bandmate, Carl Palmer, led the tributes to the renowned keyboardist.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend and brother-in-music, Keith Emerson,” he wrote on his website.

“Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come. He was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz.

“I will always remember his warm smile, good sense of humour, compelling showmanship, and dedication to his musical craft. I am very lucky to have known him and to have made the music we did, together. Rest in peace, Keith.”

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Emerson, Lake and Palmer rose to fame in the 1970s as a leading force in the progressive rock genre.

Emerson was also known for his work in The Nice.

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AAP