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Robert Fripp (born 16 May 1946 in Wimborne Minstermarker, Dorsetmarker, Englandmarker) is a guitarist, composer and a record producer best known for being the guitarist for, and only constant member of, the progressive rock band King Crimson. His work, spanning five decades, encompasses a variety of musical styles. Fripp was ranked 42nd on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" (published August 2003).

Career

Early career

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, despite being neither a singer nor an organist. 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 great success, and is now known as one of the most influential albums in the history of progressive rock. Because of musical differences with Giles and McDonald, King Crimson broke up shortly after the release of the first album, to be re-formed again several times over the years. Initially Fripp offered to leave the group; however, Giles and McDonald announced that they were going to leave regardless, and so Fripp remained instead in order to keep Crimson going. He has remained the only consistent member of the band since. Crimson went through a number of line-ups before Fripp disbanded the group for the first time in 1974.

Side projects and collaborations

During King Crimson's less active periods, Fripp has 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 Centipede's Septober Energy in 1971 and Ovary Lodge in 1973. During this period he also worked with Van der Graaf Generator, playing on the 1970 album H to He, Who Am the Only One, and in 1971, on Pawn Hearts. Collaborating with Brian Eno, he recorded in 1972 and Evening Star in 1974. These two albums featured experimentation with several novel musical techniques, including a tape delay system utilizing dual reel to reel Revox tape machines that would come to play a central role in Fripp's later work. This system came to be known as "Frippertronics". Fripp and Eno also played several live shows in Europe in 1975.

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 out of sight (either in the wings or behind a curtain) and used the pseudonym "Dusty Rhodes."

In 1977, 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 that 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 poet/lyricist Joanna Walton and 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 (Fear of Music), and produced The Roches' first album, which featured several of Fripp's characteristic guitar solos. A second set of creative sessions with David Bowie produced distinctive guitar parts on Scary Monsters (1980).

Fripp's collaboration with bassist Busta Jones, drummer Paul Duskin, and vocals by David Byrne (Byrne credited as Absalm el Habib) 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 bassist Sara Lee, keyboardist Barry Andrews and drummer Johnny Toobad (later replaced by Kevin Wilkinson). The LOG toured for the duration of 1980.

In the early and mid 1990s Fripp contributed guitar/soundscapes to Lifeforms (1994) by The Future Sound of London and Cydonia (released 2001) by The Orb, as well as FFWD, a collaborative effort with the latter's members. In addition, Fripp worked with Brian Eno co-writing and supplying guitar to two tracks for a CD-ROM project released in 1994 entitled Headcandy created by Chris Juul and Doug Jipson. Eno thought the visual aspects of the disc (video feedback effects) were very disappointing upon completion, and regretted participation. During this period, Fripp also contributed to albums by No-Man (a band featuring Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson) and The Beloved (1994's Flowermouth and 1996's X, respectively).

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 (Discipline, Beat, Three Of A Perfect Pair), this new King Crimson broke up in 1984.

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.

In 1982 Fripp produced and played guitar on the Keep On Doing album by The Roches. Similar to his previous guesting on David Bowie's Scary Monsters (which also boasted Pete Townshend and Chuck Hammer on infinite sustain guitar), the "skysaw" guitar style which characterized this period of Fripp's pedagogy is featured alongside the sisters' songs and harmony.

Guitar Craft

Fripp was offered a teaching position at the American Society for Continuous Education (ASCE) in Claymont Court, West Virginiamarker 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, an offshoot 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. The California Guitar Trio has also toured with King Crimson.

In February 2009, Fripp recommended that Guitar Craft cease to exist on its 25th anniversary in 2010.

Soundscapes

Fripp returned to recording solo in 1994, using an updated version of the Frippertronics technique that creates loops employing digital technology instead of analog tapes. Fripp has released a number of records that he called "Soundscapes," including 1999, Radiophonics, A Blessing of Tears, That Which Passes, November Suite, The Gates of Paradise, Love Cannot Bear and At the End of Time, as well as numerous download-only live recordings. (The sampler 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 because of the greater possibilities offered by the new technology.

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 1993, Sylvian and Fripp released the collaborative effort The First Day. Other contributors were soon-to-be King Crimson member Trey Gunn on stick and nearly-was 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 own text (Redemption).

King Crimson redux

In late 1994, Fripp re-formed the 1981 lineup of King Crimson for its fifth incarnation, adding Trey Gunn and drummer Pat Mastelotto in a configuration known as the "double trio" (the lineup included two guitars, two bass/Stick players and two drummers). This lineup released the VROOOM EP in 1994, and the Thrak full album in 1995; also in 1994 he supplied guitar textures on the track Flak on The Future Sound of London's album Lifeforms.

From 1997 to 1999, and again in 2006, the band King Crimson "fraKctalised" into five sub-groups known as ProjeKcts.

2000 saw the release of a studio album, The ConstruKction of Light, from a sixth lineup of King Crimson (Fripp, Adrian Belew, Trey Gunn, Pat Mastelotto) with The Power to Believe following in 2003. At the end of the year Gunn decided to leave the band. In March 2004, a seventh lineup had been formulated and practiced with Tony Levin returning to replace Trey Gunn, although nothing happened beyond a few studio rehearsals and the band remained inactive again until 2007.

In 2007 Gavin Harrison joined the group to perform as a second drummer, and this new lineup played a short tour in the eastern US in August 2008. As yet there has been no definite word on anything further.

Recent work

During 2004, Fripp toured with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai as the guitar trio G3.

Robert Fripp worked at Microsoft's studios to record new sounds and atmospheres for Windows Vista.

In late 2005 and early 2006, Fripp joined Bill Rieflin's improvisational Slow Music project, along with guitarist Peter Buck, Fred Chalenor (acoustic bass), Matt Chamberlain (drums) and Hector Zazou (electronics). This collective of musicians toured the west coast in May 2006.

In October 2006, ProjeKct Six (Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew) played at select venues on the east coast of the U.S.[4290], opening for Porcupine Tree.

Fripp has contributed soundscapes to two songs for Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet. He is featured on the tracks "Way Out Of Here" and "Nil Recurring", the second of which was released in September 2007 as part of the "Nil Recurring" EP.

Fripp also played a concert with the band The Humans, which consists of his wife Toyah Willcox, Bill Rieflin and Chris Wong. The performance in Tartumarker marked the release of The Humans's first album "We are the Humans".

Fripp (along with Pat Mastelotto and others) appears on Judy Dyble's (Giles, Giles & Fripp; Fairport Convention; Trader Horne) album Talking With Strangers released August 2009.

Fripp will be opening for Porcupine Tree during their European tour of the fall.

Guitar technique

Fripp began playing guitar at the age of eleven. He says he was tone deaf with no sense of rhythm when he started. His comment on dealing with the obstacle is "Music so wishes to be heard that it sometimes calls on unlikely characters to give it voice."

While being taught guitar basics by his teacher Don Strike (who Fripp described as "a very good player in the thirties style"), he began to develop the technique of crosspicking, which would later become a significant technique taught in Guitar Craft.

In 1985, Fripp began using a tuning he called "New Standard tuning", which would also become the official tuning of Guitar Craft.

Fripp's guitar technique, unlike most rock guitarists, is not blues-based but rather influenced by avant-garde jazz and European classical music, combining rapid alternate picking with motifs in whole-tone or diminished tonalities, continuous cross-picked (and polka-influenced) sixteenth-note patterns for long stretches in a form called moto perpetuo (perpetual motion).

Fripp is left-handed, but plays guitar right-handed.

Personal life

He married Toyah Willcox in 1986 in Poolemarker, Dorset.

Discography



Notes

  1. The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time
  2. Robert Fripp Discography: Other Unauthorized Releases
  3. "Robert Fripp's Diary", DGM Live!
  4. http://www.dgmlive.com/rf/index.htm?bio=true
  5. http://www.elephant-talk.com/wiki/Interviews#Robert_Fripp
  6. "History of the Guitar Craft Plectrum", by Steve Ball, SteveBall.com
  7. Baldwin, Douglas (November 2007). "Guitar Heroes: How to Play Like 26 Guitar Gods from Atkins to Zappa", edited by Jude Gold and Matt Blackett, Guitar Player, p.111.
  8. Marriages England and Wales 1984-2005


References

  • Robert Fripp: From King Crimson to Guitar Craft, Eric Tamm, Faber and Faber, 1990, ISBN 0571129129 ( online version of book)
  • In the Court of King Crimson, Sid Smith, Helter Skelter Publishing, 2001, ISBN 1900924269


External links




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