Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


FRIPP, Robert

(b May 1946, Dorset) Guitarist, composer, bandleader, teacher. With drummer Michael Giles (b 1942, Bournemouth) and brother Pete Giles on bass made pop LP The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles And Fripp '68 on Deram, then split; Fripp and Michael Giles with Ian McDonald (b 1946) on keyboards, sax, flute, vocals, Greg Lake on bass and vocals formed art-rock band King Crimson '69, made In The Court Of The Crimson King for Island (later on Polydor; Atlantic in USA) with lyricist Pete Sinfield handling the light show for the live act; they played at the Rolling Stones' free concert in Hyde Park in July; the LP went gold in the USA and the band carried on through many changes of personnel with Fripp as the only constant factor. McDonald and Giles left to make an eponymous album '71 on Cotillion; Lake left to form Emerson, Lake and Palmer but worked on In The Wake Of Poseidon '70, with Fripp on mellotron, Giles brothers sitting in, Mel Collins on reeds and Gordon Haskell on vocals and bass (Haskell d October 2020 aged 74). Lizard '71 was finished with drummer Andy McCulloch, but Haskell had left during its making (he made It Is And It Isn't '71 on Atco in USA); Island '72 had Boz Burrell on bass and Ian Wallace on drums (Burrell and Haskell were both vocalists, taught by Fripp to play bass). All the LPs charted well in the USA but tours were not particularly successful; they disbanded '72 (live Earthbound issued in UK). Collins, Wallace and Burrell joined Alexis Korner; Sinfield made Still '73 on Manticore; Fripp re-formed with Jamie Muir on percussion, David Cross on violin and mellotron, John Wetton (ex-Family, later Asia) on bass and vocals, drummer Bill Bruford (who left successful Yes to join): this lineup did Lark's Tongue In Aspic '73; Muir dropped out and quartet made Starless And Bible Black '74 (including 20 minutes of a live Amsterdam gig '73, released in full on two-CD The Nightwatch '97 on Discipline). A last studio LP Red '74 was made with help of Collins and McDonald; final USA tour resulted in live USA '75.

Fripp combined electronics with classical technique, often playing while seated; whether music is portentous or pretentious is up to its fans, of which there are many. In October 1974 he said 'King Crimson is completely over'; he made LPs No Pussyfooting, Evening Star and Healthy Colours from '75 on Island/Antilles with Brian Eno and his tape-delay system (compilation The Essential Fripp And Eno on Venture/Caroline CD); this developed into 'Frippertronics' for USA tour, LPs Exposure '79, God Save The Queen and Under Heavy Manners '80, The League Of Gentlemen and Frippertronics/Let The Power Fall '81, also Network and God Save The King, all on Polydor USA, EG UK; I Advance Masked '82 and Bewitched '84 on A&M. He re-formed King Crimson (intending to call it Discipline) '81 with Bruford, Tony Levin on bass, Adrian Belew on guitar (ex-Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Talking Heads) for LPs Discipline '81, Beat '82, Three Of A Perfect Pair on WB. He also sessioned with Bowie, Peter Gabriel (with Levin), Talking Heads, Blondie; produced Daryl Hall LP Sacred Songs '80 on RCA. Wetton joined Uriah Heep, Bruford Genesis; they formed UK (see Bruford's entry). A Young Person's Guide To King Crimson first issued '75, later a two-disc set with 20-page booklet from Polydor; Robert Fripp And The League Of Crafty Guitarists: Live! '86 from Fripp's master classes at Claymont Court WV on Editions EG, also on video; also album Show Of Hands. Sometimes God Hides: The Young Person's Guide To Discipline compiled 22 tracks of Crimson, offshoots and comrades, once gig merchandise and still a super-budget price; Epitaph: Live In 1969 compiled 15 tracks of the earliest (some say best) Crimson from the first John Peel session to the Fillmore West, both '97 on Discipline.