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King Crimson Hyde Park 46 Years Ago Today
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Jul 5, 2015

On this date 46 years ago, King Crimson supported The Rolling Stones at the now legendary free concert in Hyde Park. The concert was a crucial milestone for Crimson who at that point had played just 23 gigs.




When Crimson took to the stage they restricted themselves to a truncated set consisting of 21st Century Schizoid Man, In The Court Of The Crimson King, Get Thy Bearings, Epitaph, Mantra, Travel Weary Capricorn and Mars.  Dik Fraser recalls that during the opening number a large framed photograph of Brian Jones fell, almost catching Greg Lake. The bass player shrugged off the mishap, but several people backstage thought it was some kind of augury or supernatural manifestation.



It was a good day for Crimson, however. The newest member of the road crew, Richard Vickers (better known as Vick), recalled in his memoir of that period: "The high point of that gig was the whole audience rising to their feet as one and cheering Ian McDonald solo during ‘Schizoid’ — I remember the hairs on the back of my spine rising in unison as the roar from this huge crowd went up."

In the crowd stood Jamie Muir. Having only recently moved down from Edinburgh, the future Crimson percussionist was then playing with free improvisers such as John Stevens and Derek Bailey. He was impressed by the force Crimson created. "What was incredible was that they just exploded on to the scene fully matured. Most bands come along and then develop but Crimson just came on and exploded with this very adult, intelligent, cutting-edge music. It was just this whole package that went wallop!"

Fourteen-year-old Trevor Lever, attending his first concert, found Crimson perplexing.  "At one point I thought an orchestra was playing but through my binoculars saw only four blokes on the stage. ’Where’s the orchestra?’ I asked a mate. ’Dunno,’ was the informed reply. ’Who is this playing?’  I said to no-one in particular. ’King something,’ I was told.  I made a mental note to check this band out at a later stage."  It was the start of a love affair with Crimson which Lever — who has seen shows by every incarnation of the band — continues to this day.



Crimson finished as usual with “Mars” (complete with an air raid siren being cranked up from underneath the stage by Enthoven and Fraser).  Enthoven, celebrating his 25th birthday that day, regards this as the defining moment of the launch of King Crimson. McDonald agrees that it was the point at which Crimson arrived, but adds: "It would sound blasé to say that this was just another gig for us, though in a sense it was; we were having a great time discovering and enjoying our music, but we were also experienced enough individually not to be too greatly affected by any particular venue."




Sinfield was less than impressed with the set that day, feeling that the band was below par.  Lake disagrees: "It was the first open-air gig that Crimson played and to that extent it wasn’t as sonically controlled as the ones indoors. Pete didn’t have his lights to play with but it was an extraordinary show."  In his diary, Fripp noted: "Standing ovation. Mammoth success, of importance which will take time to appreciate. We’ll look back to see this day in years to come and fully realise its significance."

Lake observes: "I think that even if that Hyde Park thing hadn’t have happened, I don’t think it would have affected the popularity of King Crimson.  The band had spread like wildfire."

Certainly the next night when Crimson played their regular slot at The Marquee, the club was packed. Sinfield regards that gig as infinitely superior to Hyde Park. "The Marquee the next night.  NOW that was a humdinger!  Oh yes indeedy!"  McDonald in his diary notes that the band certainly picked up a few new admirers.  "Went to the Marquee. Did gig. Came back with nine chicks (!)"

Crimson continued to surf a wave of critical approval.  Richard Gott in The Guardian’s review of Hyde Park asserted: "Most of the music, with the exception of a sensational group called King Crimson, was indifferent." And B.P. Fallon in that week’s Melody Maker raved: "King Crimson are going to be giants. Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps. Give it a year and we’ll know. No dammit. Six months will do. Really..." 

A more considered verdict was delivered by Richard Gilbert in The Listener.  "King Crimson played again at the Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park and their confidence in careering from the gritty to the lyrical won them a massive and deserved ovation... if their records can match their live performances they will survive all the bandwagon leaping." 

For years it was assumed that there was no footage of Crimson other than a brief glimpse of an off-stage Fripp peering at Mick Jagger through the potted plants on the Stones In The Park DVD. Minutes later, Fripp and other KC members were unceremoniously thrown out of the back stage area.



However a five-minute snippet was eventually surfaced and was included on the 2009  40th Anniversary Edition of In The Court Of The Crimson King (available from Inner Knot and Burning Shed)

You can watch it here.

The audience recording of the concert was officially released on CD as KCCC12 in 2002  and is also available as a download from this site.



Were you there at this concert? We’d love to hear from you if so. Get in touch via the guestbook and share you memories of this important concert in the KC calendar.


More news

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1979 Frippertronics
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Apr 28, 2014
There's a 22-minute Frippertronics EP available for download from today. The tape was discovered by DGM engineer, Alex Mundy languishing in the vaults.



You can find out more about the background to these tracks and download them here.

Russian Extremes - From Icons To I-Cats
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Apr 28, 2014
That's the title of a talk by artist Svetlana Petrova which will take place on 29th May at 6.30pm in The Barn at Stonehill, Stonehill House, Abingdon in Oxfordshire.


Happy Birthday Gordon Haskell
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Apr 27, 2014
Gordon Haskell is celebrating his 68th birthday 43 years after singing and playing with the band on In The Wake Of Poseidon and Lizard.



Check out Gordon's website for more recent pictures and information here.

Court In Record Store Day
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Apr 27, 2014
My thanks to Tony Geballe for sending this link to an article about Record Store Day featuring a certain well-known album from 1969. 


Bum Note For Ovation
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sat., Apr 26, 2014
My thanks to Joseph Pettini for sending in this sad news item regarding Ovation guitars. 


Happy Birthday David
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Apr 23, 2014
Birthday greetings to David Cross who celebrates his 65th today.



Small Part In A Movie
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Apr 23, 2014
You never know where King Crimson will pop up as jacethecrowl explains. "I work in a film archive and quite accidentally encountered this today. A co-worker called me over with a question and a strand of film with this credit was laid out on her light bench. This is from the trailer for "The Devil's Triangle" (1974?)."






Tippett & Travis & Soft Machine Legacy
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Apr 22, 2014
Keith Tippett will be joining Soft Machine Legacy in London next week. Tippett has played with the band before which will feature John Etheridge (guitar), Roy Babbington (bass) John Marshall (drums) and of course, Theo Travis on sax.



Of Tippett’s Crimson connections Theo writes "Robert produced Keith’s Centipede album which included John Marshall…so all in the family! Actually I first met Robert when he came to a Soft Machine Legacy gig at the Pizza Express London back in 2006 (the night Mike Ratledge popped in later!)"

Tickets are available here or, if you’re feeling lucky, on the door at The Jazz Cafe (where of course P1 and P2 have played).


KC In The Mind
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Apr 22, 2014
My thanks to Throbber for spotting the appearance of a well-known King Crimson tune on BBC Radio 4 (at around the 10 minute mark) in this programme. 


Ade For Whales
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Apr 22, 2014
My thanks to gr00n1 for sending in this item regarding a rather special guitar intended for Adrian Belew and other guitarists


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