King Crimson

1969-1974; 1981-1984; 1994-
Robert FrippGuitar, mellotron1969-1974; 1981-1984; 1994-
Greg LakeBass, vocals1969
Ian McDonaldKeyboards, sax, flute, vocals1969
Michael GilesDrums1969
Gordon HaskellVocals, bass1970-1971
Andrew McCullochDrums1970-1971
Mel CollinsSax, flute, mellotron1970-1972
Boz BurrellVocals, bass1971-1972
Ian WallaceDrums1971-1972
Bill BrufordDrums1972-1974; 1981-1984; 1994-2000
Jamie MuirPercussion1972-1973
John WettonBass, vocals1972-1974
David CrossViolin, keyboards1972-1974
Adrian BelewGuitar, vocals1981-1984; 1994-
Tony LevinBass1981-1984; 1994-2000
Trey GunnGuitar, bass1994-

King Crimson Artistfacts

  • They turned down both piano man Elton John and Roxy Music frontman Brian Ferry as lead singers before each man got famous. Haskell was brought in instead of John, and Burrell (who was taught bass by Fripp upon joining the band) was chosen instead of Ferry.
  • They lucked out with an early gig (only 3 months after their first gig) at the Rolling Stones' free concert at Hyde Park. They played before 650,000 people.
  • Fripp employed lyric-writers, who didn't actually perform. From 1969-1971 this was Pete Sinfield. From 1972-1974, it was Robert Palmer-Jones.
  • Giles and Fripp originally played together in a group called Giles, Giles, and Fripp. The other Giles was named Peter. He later became a solicitor's clerk. Future Fairport Convention vocalist Judy Dyble also sang with the group some.
  • McDonald was the one who brought Sinfield into the band. Sinfield developed their psychedelic light show, in addition to writing lyrics.
  • Giles and McDonald left during the band's first US tour. Lake left during the sessions for their second album. He went on to form Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
  • Fripp turned down offers from Yes and Blue Whale to finish the band's second album. He brought in old friend Peter Giles, his brother Mike, and other temporary musicians to complete the album.
  • Haskell and McCulloch left two days after their 1971 album Lizard was finished. The album features vocals from Yes vocalist Jon Anderson.
  • McCulloch went on to join Greenslade. Wetton became vocalist for Asia. McDonald can be heard in Foreigner. Burrell was in Bad Company, and Muir joined a Buddhist monastery.
  • Longtime member Bruford left the far more commercially successful Yes to join with Fripp.
  • What was billed as their "final" show took place in Central Park in New York City on July 1, 1974. When Fripp reformed the band in 1981, he had been planning on calling it Discipline (the name of their 1981 album), but stuck with King Crimson and put them on a "three year plan." True to the plan, they broke up three years later.
  • Fripp made public comments about how much he hated the art-rock movement and the music business (calling it "vampiric"). On October 18, 1974, he announced the band was permanently over. During his time out of King Crimson, he played solo, and with Brian Eno, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Blondie, and Talking Heads.
  • Levin was primarily a session player, but had toured with Peter Gabriel. Belew had played with Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, and David Bowie.
  • Greg Lake refers to King Crimson as "a very strange band." Pointing out some of their distinctive characteristics he lists:
    1) His familiarity with Fripp. They had the same guitar teacher and often practiced together as kids.

    2) Ian McDonald had never been in a rock band before - he came from a military brass band. This ensured he had no preconceived ideas of what a rock band should be.

    3) Michael Giles had absolute independence between his left and his right hand and his left foot and his right foot, so he could play four different time signatures simultaneously. "He used to make great sport out of doing drum fills that I couldn't come back in time with," said Lake.
  • The 1994 lineup was termed a "double trio" with Bruford and Mr. Mister drummer Pat Mastelotto both playing drums. Gunn played an instrument called a Chapman Stick (like a combination of a guitar and bass with 12 strings). He met Fripp at a seminar Fripp taught.
  • Like Frank Zappa, Fripp religiously taped King Crimson's live performances. He released some of these recordings throughout the 1990s.
  • Tony Levin had played bass for Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe, when the 4 were recording for Yes' Union album released in 1991. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Randy - Colerain Twp., OH

Comments: 8

  • John Kolberg from Monona,wi 53716, WiK.C. makes me feel normal.
  • Sarah from Quincy, IlI'm a pharmacist, and for several years worked at a grocery store that had a choice of about 70 music channels which came in on satellite. Sometimes the overnight crew would turn to the classic rock channel, and one morning while opening the pharmacy at 7:55 AM, what starts playing but "In The Court of the Crimson King"? I've never taken acid, but it almost made me want to do so, and heaven knows what the senior citizens who had their morning kaffeklatsch in the deli thought of the beeps in the instrumental bridge.
  • Randy from Colerain Twp., Oh Tony Levin played the bass for Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, and Steve Howe, while they were recording for YES's 'Union' Album, which was released in 1991. I thought he did a superb job. And I thought that it was LEVIN who had created the 'stick'? I believe he plays the instrument along with Bruford on a musical composition called 'Evensong' on the track.
  • David from Port Hawkesbury, CanadaI like them, some of their songs have simple riffs, but its all good.
  • John from Orlando, FlKing Crimson definitely does not get the recognition they deserve, although I'm glad they've still held out throughout the decades. Robert Fripp is an excellent guitarist; seeing him perform live is quite nice. I recommend fans of any genre to listen to King Crimson--although, be aware, not all their albums are as great as the other, and some even trot on the mediocre side of the spectrum. Regardless, King Crimson is an excellent band (all the dozens of member variations) worth anyone's time.
  • Ray from Portland, RiKing Crimson is the most iconoclastic band of all time. All hail the King.
  • Jeffrey from Bethel, OhKing Crimson-USA is a must-listen to album from the early 70s. Lots of volume.
  • Don from Pittsburgh, PaIn my humble musical opinion, King Crimson is and always has been the best of the so-called progressive rock genre.Pink Floyd is a close 2. If you prefer bands such as; Aerosmith, the Stones, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple King Crimson is probably not for you. Their music is angry,dark,almost sinister but also, sonically beautiful and melodic. This music will challenge the listener. It will reach inside and touch you softly, and then,slam you without mercy against the wall. AMAZING, it then will bring you back. I respectfully suggest these albums: 1) RED 1974 release. 2)HEAVY CONSTRUCTION 2000 European Tour 3)THE POWER TO BELIEVE their latest release. Listen to these albums sitting in front of a powerful system and concentrate. You will hear something different with each listen.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Lip-Synch Rebels

Lip-Synch RebelsSong Writing

What happens when Kurt Cobain, Iron Maiden and Johnny Lydon are told to lip-synch? Some hilarious "performances."


KissFact or Fiction

Kiss is the subject of many outlandish rumors - some of which happen to be true. See if you can spot the fakes.

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"They're Playing My Song

Dean's saga began with "Ariel," a song about falling in love with a Jewish girl from New Jersey.

Gary Brooker of Procol Harum

Gary Brooker of Procol HarumSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer and pianist for Procol Harum, Gary talks about finding the musical ideas to match the words.

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top Proverb

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top ProverbSong Writing

How a country weeper and a blues number made "rolling stone" the most popular phrase in rock.

Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al YankovicFact or Fiction

Did Al play on a Beach Boys record? Did he have beef with George Lucas and Coolio? See if you can spot weird but true stories.