Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp's Diary

Saturday 27 June 2020



Rising 06.00.

Morning Sitting in the Study.
Morning reading and writing…


I had begun to believe that my attention was mostly and currently directed towards being a working player, a member of the exceptional current King Crimson ensemble; and soon beginning-again with The Guitar Circle. Even given postponements to each, these are presently-ongoing creative activities.

Director Toby Amies, of the KC DVD Cosmic Fu*c / Schizophonia project, increasingly pulled my attention towards speaking and articulating aspects of KC history, including addressing commentaries by former members. Toby joined KC on tour in several locations, where my attention was close-focused on the performances and my own playing (if all I did was play guitar in King Crimson, it is already enough already). So post-touring, Toby asked for an interview. In March, shortly before the lockdown, Toby spent three days, morning and early-evening sessions interviewing me, totaling about twelve hours of filming, in the presence of David Singleton. This was personally exhausting. Toby now has the unenviable task of reducing something like fourteen or fifteen hours of RF interviewing to a few minutes for the KC DVD. What this did was to pull my attention back to the external trajectory and histories of KC, mainly the personal and problematic aspects. Until about 2003 I carried nearly all of the KC external history with me, on or close to the surface, embodied and ready to go in response to questions and interviews. After which time, I gave myself permission to let go of closely-held narrative history.

The internal process of KC, by definition, is not “exoteric” and has not attracted the same degree of commentary or questioning. A “mesoteric” history may perhaps be approached by consideration of what has been referred to, on occasion dismissively, as King Crimson philosophy. An “esoteric” history has not yet been undertaken, as far as I am aware. This would address the transformative process within KC, of the players, audients and the music itself. There are few writers qualified to take this on and, of those qualified, even fewer with interest to do so.

We discover King Crimson in the music rather than in the people who play the music. It is a bold statement to suggest that not all of the people playing the music recognised  or knew the King Crimson-ness of what was going on, but this is a view substantiated for me by Jakko Jaksyck in personal conversation.

Dr. Andrew Keeling yesterday asked me to present comments for his Musical Guide to Starless And Bible Black. Dr. Andrew Keeling is primarily interested in the music of KC, and is well-equipped to discuss and analyse it. Sid Smith is an ideal biographer of the KC exoteric history: even-handed, fair, straightforward, no axes to grind, engaging with both the music and the musicians. Sid now knows more about the externals of King Crimson than I do (as does David Singleton) and Dr. Keeling, similarly, knows more about the structure of KC music than me. Reasonably, I may only respond positively to the enquiries of Director Amies and Dr. Keeling, and my gratitude to them for their interest, in Dr. Keeling’s case now over fifty years.

Once again, I am sucked back into narrative discussion covering fifty-one years of professional and personal activity, and responding to commentary much of which is hostile. This does not support my guitar playing, nor my responsibilities towards Crafties, present and future. Part of my current professional life is dealing with outbreaks of industrial nonsense, currently the collection agencies PPL, MCPS and PRS. These three are only relatively small examples of how Power Possessors of legal and accounting varieties have taken over bodies which, nominally, they serve IMO. Should a poor visiting-innocent feel that this is Fripp whining again, one who should Shut Up! And Play His Guitar!  then once again I would quote James Baldwin.

How to engage with this returning-to-address the KC narrative? Guitar Craft aphorism…
Turn a seeming disadvantage to your advantage.
The greater the seeming disadvantage, the greater the possible advantage.
One answer today: make King Crimson a research project.

In evaluating a group/musician’s music, we consider and criticise what is played and performed. We do not usually pay much attention to what they did not play. Much of my personal suffering in King Crimson is in knowing what is/has been possible for the band, and seeing that potential closed down, even stomped flat. Where any music becomes a platform for personal self-expression, alternative strategies and developments are unspoken, even get nailed to the ground.

From my Thursday-reading: Prof. Garry L. Hagberg: One direct analogue between poor performance and a category of moral failing is to listen to oneself as the sole spotlighted element against what will then be heard as a perceptually indistinct background…

And we feel alone when just such shared improvisational interaction is frustrated or when the special sense of “playing as one” seems blocked by insurmountable obstacles. (The Oxford Handbook Of Critical Improvisation Studies, Volume One).


1. Reality begins when we are present: personal presence.
2. Only when we are present with ourselves, may we be present with others: social presence.
3. So, there are different qualities of presence, personally and socially.

In which case, what is our intention?

10.55       To the Cellar.

15.34        I Advance Masked – Day Ninety-Eight…

19.12         Morning practicing in the Cellar. Lunch and back to the Cellar.

At 17.40 joining Guitar Circle staff for a Zoomy at 18.00 UK, 13.00 US EST, with those signed up to the GC Intro, now planned for Glen Cove, Long Island next August 16-20, 2021

Excellent. This lifted my spirits. My proper work in life.