Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Monday 17 February 2003

Mount Juliet.


A cold day here in Nashville & its environs.

The first day of winding up the Crimson Beast of Terror in preparation for unleashing it on the world. Apparently, the English magazine Classic Rock, in their review of TPTB, suggests we should call it a day. This is the simple arrogance of a reviewer not yet quite grown out of believing their own reviews. Yet not quite approaching the arrogance of Andy Gill reviewing TCOL: "music is too important to be left to musicians". Perhaps Mr. Gill's view is that music is not only important, and on this we agree, but of such importance that it should be left to Mr. Gill to decide how it might enter our world.

One of the joys of preparing for a Crimson tour, is that "True Fans" are already reliably negative, hostile & insulting, and posting. Here, from the most recent ET:

Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2003 00:24:29 -0800
From: "CWilson"
Subject: Kc Screws fans/SCI ticketing

A very disappointing comment from SCI Ticketing:

"SCI Ticketing's motivation has always been to provide fans with an alternative to the high service fees and impersonal service of major ticket agencies. In addition, we believe it is the right of every artist to sell their own tickets; for without the artist there would be no tickets. Recently, there has been a mandate attempting to require us to meet arbitrary "fan club rules" in order to sell tickets.

"For instance, we must charge you a mandatory annual membership fee of $15. We must make our events password-protected so that they're not available to the general King Crimson public. We must rely on an existing King Crimson fan club - not just a "ticket buying club." And finally, we must offer the opportunity to purchase merchandise and interact w/ band members via a chat room. We are not willing to jump thru these hoops, at the expense of the people who keep us all in business. You, the people who support live music."

The Fripper 'mandating' crapola guidelines?... that keeps me from getting 'true-fan' tickets ahead of time? Could it be The Fripper & Co. wants a piece of the $15 'membership fee'?????? In which case, I have a simple reply: Bobby, kiss my arse

UTTERLY disappointed,
a 'True-Fan'

P.S. King Crimson is now a Clear Channel lackey?????????????????

"We regret to inform you that SCI Ticketing will not be able to offer tickets for any of King Crimson's Clear Channel-promoted concerts. This affects the following dates: March 5/6 in New York, March 8 in Boston, March 13 in Detroit, March 28 in San Francisco, and March 29 in Los Angeles.

"To purchase tickets for any of the Clear Channel-promoted King Crimson events, we suggest you visit Ticketmaster."

Bobby, if you are sucking the hind teat of Clear Channel, then I'm even more disappointed than I was before.... :( :( :(

All par for the course, then. I'm not sure there is much relevance in pointing out that the band, including myself, have not been involved in ticketing arrangements. Nor have we been consulted on setting the (too high) ticket prices.

But, for those True Fans who are already disappointed, even before the beginning of rehearsals, the course of action should be clear: this is not a band for you. True Fans can choose the band they patronise, but the band is not in a position to select its audience. This is clearly unfair. Life is hard enough already, so better to be kind to yourself primarily; and do us a favour, secondarily: take your business, ill-manners & poor attitude elsewhere and give them to a more grateful artist.

Moving right along, and as if to demonstrate that life in the basement is always, well, in the basement, an historical comment (also from the current ET) --

Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2003 17:05:25 +0000
From: "Spear man"
Subject: funny read from another mailing list....

[Toby--sorry about the formatting]

as usual ill bite...back in 81, robert fripp was doing his first frippertronic tour and was playing at the u. of pennsylvania in philly...we knew we had to tape it, but knowing how quirky fripp is on this issue and the small size of the venue, we had to resort to unconventional we went to a medical supply house, rented a wheelchair, taped the mics to the arm rests, and had my buddy sitting in the thing with a blanket covering the deck...fripp, who was tuning up and checking his decks, graciously requested that our suddenly wheelchair bound buddy be placed right in front of the end of a nice 60 minute set, and after fripp takes his bows, my buddy, who was being fed margaritas via a straw the whole time, starts screaming: "fripp healed me...i feel my legs...hallelujah...fripp is god", jumps outta the chair and runs outta the place...pandemonium ensues of course, and fripp is flabergasted...the story does not end day, fripp is doing promo signing at a record store, and i walk in with a j-card and ask him to sign it for the guy he had healed yesterday, becuz the tape of the gig would be incomplete without it...needless to say, fripp went ballistic, spewing obscenities left and right...i had a good laugh...

More par for the course, then. That Awful & Quirky Fripp went "ballistic, spewing obscenities"? I don't remember that. But Fripp clearly lost his cool when confronted by the lively wit and good humour of our pal (the one reporting the event) and his pal (the recovered invalid) now some 22 years after the event. Telling the story obviously brings back happy memories for him, and happy memories have their place.

But more accurately, this is probably 24 years later. The first Frippertronic tour was in 1979, following the release of Exposure. I spent 2 months traveling Europe, followed immediately by 2 months traveling the US & Canada. The American tour began in Boston, at the Boston Coop, where Fred Schuchman joined me as engineer & road person. The Polygram tour support for 2 months on the road in North America was $10,000. The price Polygram paid for an after-gig party for UK in Central Park (with John W & Billy B) was $8,000. Shoganai. This was probably the most grueling 4 months of my professional life tour.

The 1980 touring was mainly for The League of Gentlemen, although I did play a Frippertronics performance in Philadelphia, as a benefit organized by Kimberly Haas. I remember this performance for several reasons, among them: my intestinal composition was of a fluid disposition; I had the experience while performing of seeing the next note to play, playing it, and then the next note to be played after that; and the next one after that. This was a valuable experience, and one mentioned in an interview with Joe Strummer, conducted by Vic Garbarini, that became the cover feature (1980) for Musician in its glory years. Joe discussed this interview with Vic only a few weeks before Joe died. During the interview, Joe & I played pinball, and I turned the machine over (at 100,000) on my first ball. I liked Joe: he was authentic.

The touring in 1981 was mainly for King Crimson in its Discipline period, although I did play Frippertronics for 2 weeks in NYC, as a benefit for a Soho theatre company. The first week was a residency at Washington Square Church, the second week at the company's 80 seat theatre in Soho where writer Chip Stern brought Max Roach to a performance, and Vernon Reid also visited.

Strangely, I don't remember "going ballistic", nor "spewing obscenities left and right". But hey - it's in the nature of memory to be selective.

These reported comments, from a short visit this morning to the online world, are an accurate picture of why live performance is the front line. If True Fans love you, they will also hate you. If Untrue Fans hate you, they hate you anyway. Why should this be? Simply, "fandom" is a centre of gravity, where we live, our station, a "state of consciousness". Actually, a state of unconsciousness. These comments are reports from the Basement of what it is like to live there.

Perhaps Classic Rock were right after all.

At Crimson rehearsals we also tried to remember - some of our tunes. Pat has even more drums than last time we toured. At one point, Trey was playing two Warr guitars at once (18 strings total). He just gets better each tour. Adrian's mind, body & voice went in several directions simultaneously during Happy & Facts. The errors were honourable from where Ade & I were sitting. From behind the drums Pat suggested it was not quite as good as that.

As we listened to various pieces from TPTB, to de-select the privileging of memory, I found it more difficult than usual to reconcile the standard clichÈs of Crimson reviewers with the nominal subject of the review. TPTB is a mature work, concise & considered. Of the reviews I have read, several are concise.

Also arising from today: Toyah had read a piece in The Times suggesting that artists are increasingly viewing performances & merchandising at shows as the way forward. Artists are turning away from placing the main emphasis on records, says the article. As audiences leave the show, anyone will be able to order their bootleg of that evening's performance. That is, the ideas that Bootleg tv put into circulation in 1999/2000 are continuing to circulate. Pearl Jam & Phish have already put several of these ideas into action, and good for them.

The new world is waiting for us all. That is, with the possible exception of True Fans.