What's your rating of King Crimson

King Crimson

from: Great Britain

Website 1 | Website 2 | Website 3


King Crimson are one of the most unstable, but at the same time longest lasting, bands in prog. Despite long creative breaks and changing line-ups, the group under the leadership of Robert Fripp has constantly reinvented itself without losing its identity. For contemporary commentators, however, this was not always immediately apparent with every mutation.


King Crimson emerged from the soft-psychedelic pop trio Giles, Giles & Fripp, who released an LP in 1968 that was completely lost at the time. When Michael Giles (drums), Peter Giles (bass) and Robert Fripp (guitar) were joined by saxophonist and keyboardist Ian McDonald and lyricist and soundman Peter Sinfield, the harmless, silly comedy songs turned into gloomy, apocalyptic, symphonic ones "Works" - not least thanks to the strong presence of the Mellotron. Pete Giles, who temporarily gave up making music, was replaced by Fripp's old friend Greg Lake, who also did the vocals. This line-up made a name for themselves in the London club scene and on their first and only album, the prog milestone "In The Court Of The Crimson King", spanned a range from complex proto-prog metal to lyrical ballads and free sound paintings bombastic, gloomy hymns. After an exhausting tour of America, McDonald and M. Giles announced their exit because the Crimson experience seemed too exhausting and dark to them. Greg Lake also accepted Keith Emerson's offer to form a superstar trio after The Nice ended: Emerson, Lake & Palmer.


Sinfield and Fripp carried on. Two transitional albums were recorded partly with session people and partly with old Crimson musicians. Especially "In The Wake Of Poseidon" still benefited from the material of the first line-up and was structurally based on "In The Court Of The Crimson King". "Lizard" on the other hand - with a host of guests - relied more on a bizarre-surreal atmosphere and colorful arrangements. Meanwhile, McDonald & Giles tried an alternative to King Crimson, which only led to one album.


Only with "Islands" a more or less stable King Crimson line-up emerged. In addition to Sinfield and Fripp, they included Boz Burrell as singer (and hastily trained bassist), Ian Wallace as drummer and Mel Collins as saxophonist. The latter had already been involved in "Wake" and "Lizard" as a studio musician. "Islands" became a very calm, almost impressionistic record. It soon became apparent, however, that Fripp's vision could hardly be reconciled with the musical interests of his fellow musicians. After he had already fallen out with Sinfield, he now separated from the rest of the band. The last American tour, documented in the quasi-bootleg "Earthbound", revealed the musical tensions.

Sinfield worked from then on as a copywriter and brought out a solo album with the help of some former KC colleagues: "Still". Burrell, Wallace and Collins joined other bands and played as session and live musicians, Wallace e.g. for Bob Dylan. Mel Collins was most recently known in Germany through the Harald Schmidt Show, where he acted as a member of the Helmut Zerlett Band. Both are now also members of the 21st Century Schizoid Band, an association of former King Crimson members who play a mixture of King Crimson covers and their own material. Other members are Ian McDonald and Peter Giles as well as guitarist and singer Jakko Jakszyk (Ex-Level 42) as Fripp's replacement. Originally Michael Giles was involved as a drummer. The touring stress quickly became too strenuous for him.


In 1972 Robert Fripp set about putting together a band that could live up to his vision: How would it sound, would Jimi Hendrix play Bartok? He recruited Bill Bruford from Yes as a drummer, and won John Wetton from Family as bassist, as well as the violinist David Cross and the free jazz percussionist Jamie Muir. This line-up played some live gigs as well as an LP: "Larks' Tongues In Aspic", which combined experimental, heavily complex rock with good pop songs. Jamie Muir quickly said goodbye to a Buddhist monastery in Scotland. The rest of the quartet played extensively live and worked a lot with free improvisations. After "Starless And Bible Black", which was mainly recorded live and reworked in the studio, David Cross had to leave the band after another US tour (sic!). The following album, "Red" from 1974, was therefore created as a trio, but with the renewed participation of Mel Collins and Ian McDonald as guests. For the latter, re-entry into the band was even under discussion. It shouldn't come to that: Fripp had an epiphany and decided to turn his back on the music business for the time being, to continue his spiritual education and to relax. As a farewell there was a powerful live record called "USA", on which Cross' contributions in the studio were partially copied by the young violinist Eddie Jobson. Bruford and Wetton then hired themselves out for a while as sidemen for other bands before they formed the band "U.K." with Jobson and Allan Holdsworth. founded.

In the second half of the 1970s, Fripp's sabbatical years were drawing to a close. He began to work as a session musician and producer (for David Bowie and Peter Gabriel, among others), released a solo album, "Exposure", in 1979 and, during the first phase of his meticulously planned return to the music business, trotted around the country solo with his Frippertronics . In a second phase he founded the dance band "The League of Gentlemen", which combined wavey, disco-influenced rhythms with Fripp's weird, arpeggio-heavy guitar style.


The third step - through a band called "Discipline" - should bring the return to the premier league of rock music. For this, Fripp hired Bruford again and the American singer and guitarist Adrian Belew, who had previously played with Frank Zappa and the Talking Heads. There was also session veteran Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel's regular bassist, among others). With "Discipline" the name said it all: the band played very dense, "disciplined" music, which was inspired by New Wave as well as Indonesian gamelan. In doing so, she combined nearly danceable (and yet weird) rhythms with closely interlinked ensemble playing. After the first appearances, Fripp had a new light: That was King Crimson! And so "Discipline" was renamed accordingly.

The formation released three albums, "Discipline", "Beat" and "Three Of A Perfect Pair", all of which plowed roughly the same terrain. It dissolved again after three years. Fripp now devoted himself - under the name "Guitar Craft" - to a teaching and learning method for acoustic guitar playing and general lifestyle that was strongly influenced by the experiences of his spiritual break in the mid-1970s. This led to the founding of various ensembles, such as the "League Of Crafty Guitarists" and the "Robert Fripp String Quintet". Bruford founded the jazz rock ensemble Earthworks, Belew works as a sidekick and solo artist, Levin returned to work as a session man for all occasions (alongside Peter Gabriel for Pink Floyd or Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe).

At the beginning of the 90s, Fripp parted ways with his previous record and management company "E.G." in a lengthy (and meticulously documented in many liner notes) process. At the same time he started with "Discipline Global Mobile" (DGM) the attempt to establish a record company based on ethical principles and not for profit. Musically, he occasionally worked as a guitarist for Brian Eno and others, as well as with the ex-Crafty guitarist Trey Gunn and with his (Fripps) wife, the new wave chanteuse Toyah (Willcox), in the band Sunday All Over the World and with David Sylvian in a duo project in which Trey Gunn took over the bass part on the Chapman Stick.


After that, the time seemed ripe for a new incarnation of King Crimson. However, after David Sylvian had refused to act as a singer, Fripp came up with the idea of ​​the "double trio" again spontaneously: two trio units of bass, drums and guitar should be juxtaposed within a band. For one trio, Fripp, Gunn and the American drummer Pat Mastelotto from Mr.Mister (!), Who had already drummed in the Sylvian / Fripp live band, were planned. The second trio should consist of Belew, Levin and Jerry Marotta (long-time drummer of Peter Gabriel and Sylvian / Fripp studio drummer). However, when Bill Bruford found out about the plans, he was eager to attend and ended up replacing Marotta.

The double trio began rehearsing, released an EP, "Vrooom", played a few live gigs in South America to warm up (double CD "B'Boom") and finally released a studio album, "THRAK", the combined the hard rock power of the mid-seventies King Crimson with the song orientation of the "Discipline" phase. At the same time, Fripp started an archive series (made possible by DGM and continued to this day) with live recordings from all King Crimson phases. Although it also included regularly available CDs and box sets, an attempt was made to provide rare recordings (live, rehearsal material) for the hard core of the fans in a kind of CD subscription. This CD series, originally called "D.G.M. Collectors 'Club", was later renamed "King Crimson Collectors' Club". This club model has since been abandoned: the "Club" CDs are now available to everyone in the DGM webshop.

After the live improv compilation "THRaKaTTaK", the double trio seemed to be in a creative dead end. Fripp suggested splitting the band into sub-units that could work spontaneously and unencumbered: This is how the so-called "projects" came about. For a while, four different ProjeKct constellations worked live. When a regular King Crimson incarnation was supposed to arise again, it became clear that Bruford and Levin did not fit into the plans for various reasons. The new line-up consisted of Fripp, Belew, Gunn and Mastelotto. From then on, Bruford concentrated on his band Earthworks, which had been redesigned as an acoustic jazz ensemble, Levin worked again as a freelancer and in various projects such as the "Liquid Tension Experiment" or "Bozzio Levin Stevens". In addition, he increasingly began to publish solo records with his own band.


The remaining KC quartet, the so-called "double duo", quickly worked out material for a new album, "The ConstruKction of Light", which was once again devoted to the combination of 70s and 80s styles under new aspects. The band toured worldwide, including as the opening act for Nu-Metaller Tool, in order to gain a fresh King Crimson audience. This was followed by the CD "The power to believe", which seemed more mature, fresh and powerful than previous studio releases. Finally it was also possible to incorporate the electronic experiments of the projects in a meaningful way in the band context. In addition, "Nuevo Metal" sounds inspired by the collaboration with Tool appeared.

At the end of 2003, Trey Gunn announced his departure from the band. He saw the goals he had once set up as a young musician realized and was looking for new challenges. Fripp announced the reactivation of Tony Levin. A new rehearsal phase from April 2004 should generate material for a new album. How Gunn's departure and Levin's return will play out musically remains to be seen: to be continued ...


King Crimson entry in the guide "British Symphonic Prog of the 1970s"

Personnel related bands

21st Century Schizoid Band; Agents Of Mercy; Morgan Ågren, Henry Kaiser, Trey Gunn; Antoine Fafard Gavin Harrison; Asia; Adrian Belew; Michael Clay & Adrian Belew; Bozzio Levin Stevens; Bozzio / Mastelotto; BPM & M; Bruford; Bruford Levin; Camel; Centipede; Circus (GB); The Crimson Jazz Trio; The Crimson ProjeKCt; Cross and booker; David Cross; David Cross & Peter Banks; David Cross & Robert Fripp; Cross & Jackson; Judy Dyble; Earthworks; Keith Emerson & Greg Lake; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; FFWD; Fission trip; Fripp & Eno; Robert Fripp; Robert Fripp & The League of Crafty Guitarists; The Robert Fripp String Quintet; The Fusion Syndicate; Giles, Giles & Fripp; Michael Giles; The Michael Giles Mad Band; Giles / Muir / Cunningham; Greenslade; Trey Gunn; Gavin Harrison & Ø5Ric; Gavin Harrison; Jack knife; Jakszyk, Fripp, Collins; Jakko M. Jakszyk; KoMaRa; KTU; Greg Lake; The League of Gentlemen; Levin Minnemann Rudess; Tony Levin; Levin Torn White; Liquid tension experiment; Liquid Trio Experiment; Liquid Trio Experiment 2; Low flying aircraft; Mastelotto / course student; Pat Mastelotto & Markus Reuter; Pat Mastelotto Tobias Ralph; Mastica; McDonald & Giles; Mughal Thrash; Moonbound; Moraz / Bruford; Willie Oteri; Phenomena; Projects; Radius; Renaissance; Rhythm buddies; Rieflin, Fripp, Gunn; Peter Sinfield; Slow Music Project; Stick men; Andy Summers, Robert Fripp; Sunday All Over the World; Supertramp; Swans; David Sylvian & Robert Fripp; The Mastelottos; Steve Thorne; The Keith Tippett Group; Keith Tippett's Ark; Toyah and Fripp; TU; Tuner; UK; UKZ; U-Z Project (Ultimate Zero Project); Vantomme; Ian Wallace; John Wetton; John Wetton & Geoffrey Downes; John Wetton & Richard Palmer-James; Yes

All King Crimson publications discussed

yeartitleØ rating# Rezis
1969In The Court Of The Crimson King - An Observation By King Crimson14.406
1970In The Wake Of Poseidon12.007
1973Larks' Tongues In Aspic12.502
1974Starless And Bible Black12.503
1975United States10.502
1976The Young Persons' Guide to King Crimson-1
1984Three of a perfect pair9.673
1986The Compact King Crimson-1
1991The Essential King Crimson: Frame by Frame-2
1992The great deceiver13.002
1996Schizoid Man8.001
1997The Nightwatch14.002
1998Absent Lovers11.001
1998Live at Jacksonville 19729.001
1998Live at the Marquee 1969-1
1999The Vrooom Sessions7.001
1999The Beat Club Bremen 197210.001
1999Deja VROOOM (DVD)11.001
1999On Broadway 199511.001
1999Live at Cap D'Agde 198210.001
1999Cirkus - The Young Person's Guide to King Crimson Live12.002
2000Live in Central Park 197412.001
2000Live at Plymouth Guildhall 197112.001
2000Live At Summit Studios 19728.001
2000Discipline - Live At Moles Club 19818.001
2000A Beginners 'Guide To The King Crimson Collectors' Club10.001
2000The Construction of Light10.606
2000Nashville Rehearsals11.001
2000Heavy construction10.001
2001Live in Berkeley-1
2001Level Five11.001
2001Vrooom Vrooom12.001
2001Live in Detroit 197110.001
2001Live in Mainz 197412.001
2002Live in Hyde Park 196911.001
2002Live at the Zoom Club 19729.001
2002Happy with what you have to be happy with8.001
2002Champaign-Urbana Sessions11.001
2002Ladies of the Road10.001
2003Live at Guildford 197213.001
2003EleKtrik (Live in Japan 2003)13.001
2003Live in Orlando 197210.001
2003Eyes Wide Open (DVD)14.001
2003The Power To Believe10.002
2004Live in Warsaw, June 11, 200010.001
2004The 21st Century Guide To King Crimson Volume One (1969-1974)-1
2004Neal and Jack and Me (DVD)11.001
2004Live in Philadelphia, PA on July 30, 198211.001
2005Live in Brighton. October 16, 197112.001
2005Live at the Wiltern 199512.001
2005Inside King Crimson. 1972 - 1975. An independent critical review (DVD)9.001
2005The 21st Century Guide To King Crimson Volume Two (1981-2003)-1
2006Stadthalle, Cologne, Germany, October 14, 198111.001
2006The Roxy, Los Angeles, California, November 23, 198111.001
2006The Collectable King Crimson Vol.112.001
2006Place De Nations, Montreal, Quebec, Canada - August 4, 198211.001
2006Zoom Club, Frankfurt, Germany, April 12, 197110.001
2006Zoom Club, Frankfurt, Germany, April 13, 197111.001
2006Zoom Club, Frankfurt, Germany, April 14, 197110.001
2006Zoom Club, Frankfurt, Germany, April 15, 197110.001
2007The Collectable King Crimson Volume 210.001
2007Olympia, Paris, France, June 25, 200010.001
2007Augsburg, Germany, March 27, 197410.001
2008The Collectable King Crimson Volume 3 - Live at the Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 199612.001
2008Congresgebouw, The Hague, Netherlands, May 15, 199511.001
2008Park West, Chicago, Illinois, August 7, 200810.502
200840th Anniversary Tour Box12.001
2009The Collectable King Crimson Volume Four - Live at Roma, Warsaw, Poland 200011.001
2011June 04, 1996. Rosengarten-Musensaal, Mannheim, Germany11.001
2012Larks' Tongues in Aspic - The Complete Recordings15.002
2012Live at the Marquee 197112.001
2014The Elements of King Crimson. 2014 Tour Box13.001
2015THRAK Box - King Crimson Live and Studio Recordings 1994-1997-1
2015The Elements of King Crimson. 2015 Tour Box13.001
2015Live at the Orpheum10.333
2016Live in Toronto12.002
2016Radical Action To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind13.001
2016Rehearsals & Blows (May - November 1983)12.001
2017Live in Chicago14.001
2018Meltdown - Live in Mexico14.001
2018Live in Vienna14.001
2019The Reconstruction of Light-1
2019Live in Newcastle December 8, 197212.001
2020The Elements Of King Crimson - 2020 Tour Box-1

to the top

Discussed reading on King Crimson

to the top