Personalities | Robert Fripp | Crimson’s King | Guitar Heroes

Progressive-rock pioneers King Crimson have seen a revolving door of band members through its almost 40-year existence, including such highly respected musicians as bassists Greg Lake, John Wetton and Tony Levin, drummer Bill Bruford and guitarist Adrian Belew. But one figure has remained steadfast, and that is guitarist Robert Fripp (b. 1946).

Born in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England, Robert Fripp faced enormous obstacles on his way to becoming one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Despite being tone-deaf, left-handed and possessing a poor sense of rhythm, the 11-year-old Fripp picked up the guitar and never looked back. In 1967, Fripp teamed up with brothers Peter (bass) and Michael Giles (drums) to form Giles, Giles & Fripp. A year later, Fripp and Michael Giles formed the first version of King Crimson. Their debut album, In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969), was – and still is – enormously influential, inspiring such prog-rock luminaries as Yes and Genesis. Indeed, throughout the band’s on-and-off existence, albums such as Larks’ Tongues In Aspic (1973), Red (1974), Discipline (1981) and The Power To Believe (2003) demonstrate Fripp’s groundbreaking ‘anything goes’ playing style, as well as his ability to create ambitious and innovative music.

Though King Crimson has been his most high-profile gig, Fripp has worked with an impressive array of artists both as sideman and collaborator through the years, including Brian Eno, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Andy Summers and Peter Gabriel. His work with Eno was particularly rewarding, as Fripp developed his famous ‘Frippertronics’ – a sound-on-sound live tape-looping process that enables him to become his own backing track – from Eno’s tape-delay system. Fripp recently introduced his ‘soundscapes’ approach to legions of new fans when he and his Gibson Les Paul Custom accompanied guitarists Steve Vai and Joe Satriani on the 2004 G3 tour. Various collaborative recording projects have followed in recent years, including 2011’s A Scarcity Of Miracles: A King Crimson ProjeKct, featuring other Crimson alumni.

In addition to his acclaimed recording career, Fripp launched Guitar Craft in 1985, a guitar seminar programme that to this day holds ongoing instructional courses all over the world, teaching hundreds of guitarists the eccentric, trippy, inventive and dissonant, yet somehow melodic, craft of the renowned master.

Essential Recordings

King Crimson: In The Court Of The Crimson King

King Crimson: Larks’ Tongues In Aspic

with Brian Eno: Evening Star

with Andy Summers: Bewitched

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