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The two men who inspired the evolution of Robert Fripp

While Robert Fripp may have recently attracted attention with his bizarro Sunday lunch series alongside his wife, Toyah Willcox, his contributions extend far beyond their quirky covers. Despite his penchant for quirky antics, including making faces and donning peculiar clothing, it is important not to overlook Fripp’s mastery of his craft. As the frontman of King Crimson and a key figure in David Bowie’s journey, Fripp left an unforgettable mark on the music industry.

Of course, Fripp is inextricable from the outlandish, laughable, and mostly forgettable music of the divisive progressive rock era. However, this is a bit wrong. He and King Crimson have always stood out from the genre they are closely tied to because of the quality and type of sounds they crafted. While the rest of the supposed movement was deeply rooted in the realms of fantasy and the error of their genius, the London band were crafting an increasingly complex form of art rock that took the sense of the cerebral to new climates.

Let this be the story of 1969 In the court of the Crimson King or the years 1981 Discipline, Fripp came up with many fantastic moments. The latter is particularly important to the band and the music, as it saw them return after seven long years away with a new line-up consisting of Fripp, long-time drummer Bill Bruford and new faces Adrian Belew and Tony Levin. This chapter saw the times and technology finally catch up with Fripp’s revolutionary ideas.

This rejuvenated iteration amalgamated genres in more complex ways than ever before, as evidenced by the eternal groove of “Thela Hun Ginjeet,” opening a chapter that went on to produce 1982. Beat and the years 1984 Three of a perfect pair. The triumph of Fripp and the band in this chapter was evident to all and inspired everyone from Les Claypool to Primus to The Mars Volta.

Providing a taste of the importance of Fripp and the band in a broader sense, many punk bands have cited their importance despite being ostensibly prog, including Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Black Flag, Henry Rollins and Bad Religion.

A total innovator who designed a new standard tuning and single-band delay system, it makes sense that Fripp would draw inspiration from across the musical timeline. Additionally, in King Crimson’s early days, the convergence of classical, jazz and orchestral music, found on their 1969 debut album, often led to comparisons to the Beatles. This was thanks to their intricate efforts on albums such as Sgt. Peppers and the fact that King Crimson’s third studio effort, Lizardcontains the song “Happy Family”, which lyricist Peter Sinfield intended as an allegory about the breakup of the Fab Four.

Fripp has repeatedly mentioned the Beatles’ role Sgt. Peppers influence, as well as other efforts by innovative contemporaries such as Jimi Hendrix. However, it was not such acts that inspired his overall approach to music, which prioritizes continuous evolution above all else. This was guided by two jazz greats, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington, figures who wrote their own textbooks years before it was cool to do so.

By speaking to rolling stone in 2019, Fripp explained how Davis and Ellington, not contemporaries like the Beatles, inspired him to strive for “constant change.”

“Reflecting on a 1969 interview, Miles said he considered his need for constant change to be a curse,” the King Crimson man explained. “However, Miles, as well as Duke Ellington, in terms of finding patterns of how you strategize with a group, have been constantly there in the background for me. Neither the Beatles as a construction of a group, nor Led Zeppelin, nor the Floyd. My guides have always been Miles and Duke.

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