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Robert Fripp (born in 1946 in Dorset, England) is a guitarist and composer, perhaps best known for his founding role in the band King Crimson. His work, spanning more than three decades, encompasses a variety of musical styles.
Fripp's earliest professional work began in 1967, when he auditioned for a band being formed by bassist Peter Giles and drummer Michael Giles. Though unsuccessful as a live act, Giles, Giles and Fripp did manage to release two singles, as well as an album, The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles, and Fripp.
Early King Crimson
Following the band's breakup, Fripp, along with drummer Michael Giles, made plans for the formation of King Crimson in 1968, with Greg Lake, Peter Sinfield and Ian McDonald. Their first album, In the Court of the Crimson King, was released in late 1969, to mixed critical reviews. King Crimson broke up shortly after the release of the first album, to be re-formed again several times over the years. Robert Fripp has remained the only consistent member of the band.
During King Crimson's less active periods, Fripp pursued a number of side-projects. Collaborating with Brian Eno, he recorded No Pussyfooting in 1972 and Evening Star in 1974. These two albums featured experimentation with several novel musical techniques, including a tape delay system that would come to play a central role in Fripp's later work. The system was so characteristic of Fripp's work that sounds produced using it came to be known collectively as "Frippertronics".
Fripp spent some time away from the music industry in the later 1970s, during which he cultivated an interest in the teachings of Gurdjieff (studies which would later be influential in his work with Guitar Craft ). He returned to musical work as a studio guitarist on Peter Gabriel's first self-titled album in 1976, released the following year. Fripp toured with Gabriel to support the album, but remained in the wings and was introduced to audiences as "Dusty Rhodes."
In 1977, three years after the breakup of the third incarnation of King Crimson, Fripp received a phone call from Eno, who was working on David Bowie's album Heroes. Fripp agreed to play guitar for the album, a move which initiated a series of collaborations with other musicians. Fripp soon contributed his musical and production talents to Peter Gabriel's second album, and collaborated with Daryl Hall on Sacred Songs. During this period, Fripp began working on solo material, with contributions from several other musicians, including Eno, Gabriel, and Hall, as well as Peter Hammill, Jerry Marotta , Phil Collins, Tony Levin and Terre Roche . This material eventually became his first solo album, Exposure, released in 1979, followed by the Frippertronics tour in the same year. While living in New York, Fripp contributed to albums and live performances by Blondie and Talking Heads, and produced The Roches' first album.
Fripp's collaboration with Buster Jones , Paul Duskin , and David Byrne produced God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners in the following year. He simultaneously assembled what he called a "second-division touring new wave instrumental dance band" under the name League of Gentlemen , with Sara Lee, Barry Andrews and Johnny Toobad , for the duration of 1980.
King Crimson again
1981 saw the formation of King Crimson's fourth incarnation, along with Adrian Belew, Bill Bruford, and Tony Levin. The group was conceptualized under the name "Discipline," but it came to Fripp's attention that the members thought the name King Crimson was more appropriate. For Fripp, King Crimson had always been a way of doing things, rather than a particular group of musicians, and the group felt that their music captured that methodology. After releasing three albums, this new King Crimson broke up in 1984; The League of Gentlemen split soon afterward.
During this period Fripp made two records with his old friend Andy Summers of the Police. On I Advance Masked, Fripp and Summers played all the instruments. Bewitched was more dominated by Summers, who produced the record and collaborated with other musicians in addition to Fripp.
Fripp was offered a teaching position at the American Society for Continuous Education (ASCE) in Claymont Court, West Virginia in 1984. He had been involved with the ASCE since 1978, eventually serving on its board of directors, and had long been considering the idea of teaching guitar. His course, Guitar Craft , was begun in 1985, one of the results of which was a performance group, "The League of Crafty Guitarists ," which has released several albums. In 1986, he released the first of two collaborations with his wife, Toyah Willcox.
Fripp returned to recording solo in 1994, using an updated version of the Frippertronics technique that employed digital technology instead of tapes to create loops. Fripp released a number of records that he called "Soundscapes," including 1999, Radiophonics, A Blessing of Tears, That Which Passes, November Suite, and The Gates of Paradise. (Pie Jesu consists of material compiled from A Blessing of Tears and The Gates of Paradise.) On the Soundscapes recordings, the inner workings of the music are not as clearly laid bare as they are on Let the Power Fall, perhaps due to the greater possibilities offered by the new technology.
Fripp's collaborations with David Sylvian feature some of his most exuberant guitar playing. Working with Sylvian, Fripp and future King Crimson Chapman Stick player Trey Gunn create a more relaxed and varied sound.
King Crimson redux
In late 1994, Fripp re-formed the 1981 lineup of King Crimson, adding Trey Gunn and drummer Pat Mastelotto in a configuration known as the "double trio". This lineup released Thrak in 1995.
2000 saw the release of a studio album, The ConstruKction of Light, from yet another setup of King Crimson (Fripp, Adrian Belew, Trey Gunn, Pat Mastelotto) with The Power to Believe following in 2003. Since then, the lineup has changed again, with Tony Levin returning to replace Trey Gunn.
- 1968 The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles, and Fripp
- 1973 No Pussyfooting (with Brian Eno)
- 1975 Evening Star (with Brian Eno)
- 1979 Exposure
- 1981 God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
- 1981 The League of Gentlemen (with the League of Gentlemen)
- 1981 Let the Power Fall: An Album of Frippertronics
- 1982 I Advance Masked (with Andy Summers)
- 1984 Bewitched (with Andy Summers)
- 1985 Network
- 1985 God Save the King (with the League of Gentlemen)
- 1986 The League of Crafty Guitarists Live
- 1986 The Lady or the Tiger (with Toyah Willcox)
- 1993 The First Day (with David Sylvian)
- 1993 Kings
- 1994 The Bridge Between (with the California Guitar Trio)
- 1994 1999 Soundscapes: Live in Argentina
- 1994 Damage (with David Sylvian)
- 1995 Intergalactic Boogie Express: Live in Europe...
- 1995 A Blessing of Tears: 1995 Soundscapes, Vol. 2 (live)
- 1995 Radiophonics: 1995 Soundscapes, Vol. 1 (live)
- 1996 That Which Passes: 1995 Soundscapes, Vol. 3 (live)
- 1996 Thrang Thrang Gozinbulx (with the League of Gentlemen)
- 1997 November Suite: 1996 Soundscapes - Live at Green Park Station
- 1997 Pie Jesu
- 1998 The Gates of Paradise
- 1998 Lightness: Music for the Marble Palace
- 1999 The Repercussions of Angelic Behavior (with Bill Rieflin and Trey Gunn)
- 2002 Pawn Shop Prize (with Uncle Porky Can't Get No Taller)
- 2004 The Equatorial Stars (with Brian Eno)
Eric Tamm, Robert Fripp: From King Crimson to Guitar Craft, Faber and Faber, 1990.
- Robert Fripp's Diary
- Discipline Global Mobile - An independent record label founded by Fripp.
- Elephant Talk - Free weekly digest-format newsletter on the music of Robert Fripp and King Crimson.
- California Guitar Trio - Exceptional students of Robert Fripp who play original, classical, and cover tunes with three guitars.
- Robert Fripp: From Crimson King to Crafty Guitarist - An overview of Fripp's musical career by Eric Tamm.
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