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Robert Fripp (born May 16, 1946 in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England) is a guitarist and a 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. He is married to Toyah Willcox.
Fripp's earliest professional work began in 1967, when he responded to an ad looking for a singing organist 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. He worked with Keith Tippett (and others who appeared on
King Crimson records) on projects far from rock music, producing
Septober Energy in 1971 and Ovary Lodge in 1973. During this period he
also worked with Van Der Graaf Generator. 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 via J.G. Bennett (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. The
members of the California Guitar Trio are former members of The League
of Crafty Guitarists, and Gitbox Rebellion includes several former
Guitar Craft students.
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
Sylvian / Fripp
Fripp's collaborations with David Sylvian feature some of his most
exuberant guitar playing. Fripp contributed to Sylvian's twenty minute
track, 'Steel Cathedrals', from his Alchemy - An Index Of Possibilities
album of 1985. Then Fripp performed on several tracks from Sylvian's
1986 release, Gone To Earth. At some point in late 1991, Fripp had
asked Sylvian to become the vocalist for the reforming King Crimson.
Sylvian declined the invitation, but proposed a possible collaboration
between the two that would eventually become a tour of Japan and Italy
in the spring of 1992. In July of 1993, Sylvian and Fripp released the
collaborative effort The First Day. Other contributors were future King
Crimson member Trey Gunn on stick and almost future King Crimson member
Jerry Marotta on drums. When the group toured to promote the CD, future
King Crimson member Pat Mastelotto took over the drumming spot. The
live document Damage was released in 1994, as was the joint venture,
Redemption - Approaching Silence, which featured Sylvian's ambient
sound sculptures (Approaching Silence) accompanying Fripp reading his
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. From 1997 to
1999, the band King Crimson "fraKctalised" into four sub-groups known
as ProjeKcts. 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.
During 2004, Fripp toured with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai as the guitar trio G3. On October 21, 2005, Robert Fripp worked at Microsoft's studios to record new sounds and atmospheres for Windows Vista. Shame on you Robert...
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