KING CRIMSON ORIGINAL PRESS KIT PHOTO FRIPP LEVIN BELEW

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If there is one group that embodies progressive rock, it is King Crimson . Led by guitar/Mellotron virtuoso Robert Fripp , during its first five years of existence the band stretched both the language and structure of rock into realms of jazz and classical music, all the while avoiding pop and psychedelic sensibilities; the absence of mainstream compromises and the lack of an overt sense of humor ultimately doomed the group to nothing more than a large cult following, but made their albums among the most enduring and respectable of the prog rock era.
King Crimson originally grew out of the remnants of an unsuccessful trio called Giles, Giles & Fripp . Michael Giles (drums, vocals), Peter Giles (bass, vocals), and Robert Fripp (guitar) had begun working together in late 1967 after playing in a variety of bands: Fripp 's resume included tenures with the League of Gentlemen and the Majestic Dance Orchestra, while the Giles brothers had played with Trendsetters, Ltd. After signing to Deram, the trio recorded their debut single, "One in a Million," and began cutting a follow-up album, The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp , during the summer of 1968.
Even as the album was in the works, however, the group's lineup was changing: ex-Infinity singers/guitarists Ian McDonald and Peter Sinfield joined late in 1968, and Julie Dyble, who had passed through the first Fairport Convention lineup, signed on briefly as a singer. This lineup recorded demos of "I Talk to the Wind" and "Under the Sky, " but soon dissolved: Peter Giles exited the scene in November of 1968, and Fripp 's childhood friend, vocalist/bassist Greg Lake , joined two days later. The new roster of Fripp , Lake , McDonald , and Michael Giles -- with satellite member Sinfield writing their lyrics and later running their light show, among other functions -- officially became King Crimson on January 13, 1969, deriving the name from Sinfield 's lyrics for the song "Court of the Crimson King."
In July of 1969, the group debuted in front of 650,000 people at a free concert in London's Hyde Park on a bill with the Rolling Stones ; later that month King Crimson ultimately recorded and produced their first album. In the Court of the Crimson King was one of the most challenging albums of the entire fledgling progressive rock movement, but somehow it caught the public's collective ear at the right moment and hit number five in England in November of 1969 -- four months later, the album climbed to number 28 on the American charts. Ironically, at the peak of the LP's success the original band broke up: McDonald and Giles were becoming increasingly unhappy with the music's direction, as well as the strain of touring. By November they decided to leave -- Fripp was so shaken that he even offered to exit if they would stay. The original group played their last show in December 1969; Greg Lake , having joined the group last, was uncomfortable with the idea of staying on with two replacement members, and had also been approached by Keith Emerson of the Nice about the possibility of forming a new group. He soon decided to leave Crimson as well, but agreed to stay long enough to record vocals for the next album.
Whether there would even be a next album was debatable for a time after Fripp was offered the chance to replace Peter Banks in Yes . Finally, a new single ("Catfood") and album ( In the Wake of Poseidon ) were recorded early in 1970: essentially a Fripp -dominated retake of In the Court of the Crimson King , Lake sang on all but one of the songs, Fripp played the Mellotron as well as all of the guitars, and a new singer, Fripp 's boyhood friend Gordon Has...

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