Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Friday 15 February 2008

Airport Marriott, San Francisco.


Waking with a stream of ideas for Fripp & Fripp flying by: rising, marking & recording them while they were hot & available. Then to a reading breakfast where T called, very excited about The Humans’ rough mixes.

15.52  A conference lunch with speech presentations. We are all wearing our laminates, declaring who we are & our favourite rock star. My favourite Rock Star is Toyah Willcox…


An after-lunch run-through run-through with Sister of our talk tomorrow. We are invited to participate in a Jewish service this early evening.

A call to Director Bill, Human & REM drummer, practising & preparing for his upcoming REM touring.

20.33  At the service I wore a yarmulke and was asked to say a few words on activities in an earlier incarnation, one in which I played Bar Mitzvahs. This was the story told…

In 1966-68, when I was 18-21, I paid my way through Bournemouth College, where I was studying economics, economic history, and political history with a special paper on social conditions 1850-1900, by playing at the Majestic Hotel in Bournemouth. The Majestic was a well-known Jewish hotel, run by Fay Schneider. The Majestic Dance Orchestra (a quintet) played 3 nights a week during the Winter & 4 nights in the Summer, accompanying visiting cabaret acts on Sundays. In addition to foxtrots, quicksteps, tangos, Jolsons fast & slow, from time to time we also played for weddings & Bar Mitzvahs. At one particular Bar Mitzvah, the Chief Rabbi addressed the congregation, and the directness of his advice & delivery continues resonating to this day. The Chief Rabbi spoke very little English, so he got to the point quickly. He rose & spoke:

“When you go into your shop, say Hello God! and you will have good business”.

The Chief Rabbi might have said…

“May we open ourselves to the Unconditioned world, that our wishing for what is real & true & moves from conscience, hope & faith, acceptance & love, moves into & permeates a world governed by fashion, advertising, taste, habit, inventions, prices of near substitutes, expectations of trends & changes in price, changes in the distribution of income & the quantity and quality of the money supply, that our professional lives might be mediated by the imperatives of necessity & sufficiency”.

But he didn’t say this: firstly, because his English wasn’t very good; and, secondly, because he wasn’t taking a course in economics at Bournemouth College.

What the Chief Rabbi did do was to convey a complex & difficult notion – the impossibility of an endless & benevolent Grace entering our ungrateful & uncaring world – in 15 words: 12 words of one syllable, 3 words of 2 syllables, and one word of three syllables but pronounced as if having two (business):

“When you go into your shop, say Hello God! and you will have good business”.

A longer story of the Majestic is that, a month or so before beginning there, I had left The League of Gentlemen as had also Reg Mathews (stage name Tony Matthews). Terry Squires replaced me on guitar & Tony Head (later of Tony & Tandy renown) replaced Reg. I had given up electric playing & intended to focus on classical guitar. But the guitarist at the Majestic had just left: Andy Summers, off to London with Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band (becoming Dantalion’s Chariot) and I was offered the hotel gig. For some reason, perhaps challenge, I accepted. Not long after, I stopped working in my Father’s estate agency in Wimborne, Welch & Lock, and went to Bournemouth College to take A levels. The plan was to seek admission to the College of Estate Management in South Kensington & return to Welch & Lock at the age of 24 with a BSc in Estate Management. I sat the economics & economic history exams after four terms, instead of the conventional six, got A & B grades, was accepted for university, arranged (awful) digs in Acton and left college early at the beginning of 1967 for a few open months before moving to Acton & London in the Autumn. This was when I began hearing Hendrix, Sergeant Pepper, the Bartok String Quartets & more – and my life moved in another direction via Cremation, an appalling power trio, and the Giles Brothers. The longer longer-story is longer.

A woman came up after the service: she knew the Majestic hotel, and had stayed there not long after my time there.

Then to snacking with Sister in the Concierge Club on the 11th. floor & rehearsing for Fripp & Fripp’s formal debut tomorrow.

Listening to The Humans’ demo mixes.