Jeremy Stacey (27 September 1963)
With Bill Rieflin going on sabbatical in 2016 Jeremy Stacey was recruited following a telephone call from Gavin Harrision. Stacey says he wasn't particularly knowledgable about Crimson's material. "I remember hearing Frame By Frame in the ’80s and really liking it. I’d heard some of Red and Larks’ Tongues and, of course, In The Court Of The Crimson King. So I only knew bits and pieces really, so I had to start from scratch. After getting that call from Gavin, we got together in April because he’d written a lot of the parts for the three drummers so I had time to listen to stuff and I got sent songs. In April and May, we got together for three sessions of three days each. That was just drums at that point but there were keyboards to learn.”
With a varied career and a level of work that demands he keeps kits ready for use on both sides of the Atlantic, Stacey’s background in jazz and rock is long and deep, performing and recording with artists as diverse as Noel Gallagher, Chris Squire, Mark Wingfield, The Waterboys, Neil Diamond, Ryan Adams, Gilbert O' Sullivan, Roger Daltrey, Steven Wilson and Tom Jones. However, King Crimson presented another challenge altogether. “It’s the most different thing I’ve done. Well, it’s kind of obvious when you consider there are three drummers but it’s the fact that I play keyboards which I hadn’t done for a while. I’d played on records but I hadn’t played them live in a band since the early ’90s and I hadn’t practised or played much piano during that period because I was mainly drumming. I had a long jazz background and the thing about jazz is there’s a deeper understanding of form and how to play over it which kind of prepares you for Crimson, although with Crimson it’s more rehearsed and less improvised than a jazz situation. All that stuff I learned from doing straight rock gigs and jazz has helped. I do think that Crimson isn’t a gig that just anyone can do unless you have some background or understanding of the intellectual side of music for it to be possible."
With Stacey filling the gap centre stage, the band went back out on the road. Their appearance at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre, on 3 September 2016, marked not only the first and only date in the UK that year ahead of an extensive European trek, but an obvious uptick in the band’s energy. Aside from Stacey's obvious prowess on the drums his keyboard playing especially on numbers such as The Battle Of Glass Tears in which Stacey’s piano excursions echoed Keith Tippett’s frenetic extemporisation. Similarly, on Suitable Grounds For The Blues. Stacey was fond of pitching atonal runs and scattering spiky notes into the air in a manner that unconsciously evoked Tippett’s work on In The Wake Of Poseidon and Lizard, adding a dissonant freshness, to one of the band’s newer pieces. “I don’t practise anything beforehand. I close my eyes and start and see what happens. I feel that’s an element of what Crimson is about. I could obviously do something more harmonic and prearranged but when it comes to those cadenza moments, I’m improvising every night. It’s sort of terrifying but also lots of fun. That’s if it works which it sometimes doesn’t. But that’s the whole point. If you improvise it’s not necessarily supposed to work. You’re taking a risk to put yourself out there and seeing if something magical can happen.”
Stacey assumed he would be covering one tour as a sideman but became a permanent member until the band's final public performance in Japan 2021. Stacey continues to be an in-demand player and can often be found playing Ronnie Scotts with his acclaimed Steely Dan big band outfit, The Royal Scammers.
Jeremy Stacey with King Crimson
Live In Chicago
Live In Vienna
Meltdown: Live In Mexico
Music Is Our Friend: Live in Washington and Albany, 2021