Crimson's 30th Anniversary Celebration
For me, it was a real privilege, and quite a bit of fun, to be a part of Robert Fripp's 30th anniversary celebration of King Crimson's founding. Robert politely invited me into his music room, offered me some tea, clasped his hands, leaned over slightly, looked me square in the eyes, and in an inquisitive, probing voice, asked: "what one burning question would you like to ask me -- go ahead, ask me anything...I'll give you an honest, forthright answer". Slightly thrown off, I pondered for a few seconds and then on this most momentous day, asked (for me, at least) the obvious. Robert shared much (though not all) of his response with the whole world by posting it in his DGM diary, provided below.
We discussed a lot of stuff, and Robert kindly let me play the keys of his "In the Court..." mellotron. He even brought out his Hohner pianet, the one used on Cirkus, mentioning he had not opened the pianet case in a good decade or so. Over the course of that pleasant afternoon in the rolling hills of Whiltshire, it became clear that the much hoped-for reunion of the original band was not to be. Oh well...at least I got the cube of the Schizoid Man that decorated that delicious ultra-chocolate celebration cake.
Wednesday 13th. January, 1999; 16.09
The resident Team at DGM World Central, with our two DGM at-a-distance mobile networkers Julie (former village resident and now Essex woman) & Pam (visiting from Los Angeles), plus guest Robert Cervero from San Francisco, sat down to lunch in Diane's office to celebrate King Crimson's 30th. anniversary.
Robert Cervero accepted the privilege and responsibility of blowing out three decade-representing candles on the cake, decorated with lots of little Schizoid faces.
Before lunch, RC asked RF the (inevitable?) question: would the first King Crimson ever play together again?
The quick answer is no. But here in the DGM Diary, and for the first time in public, an account of my constructive responses to this question. All three Bright Wheezes were devised over the past several years in response to approaches from Ian, Peter, Greg & Greg's manager, Bruce Pilato.
During the early years of the EG dispute I acted as an individual (i.e. I paid all the legal bills), but explicitly on behalf of the other members, to reclaim our record and publishing copyright interests. These had been sold by EG to Virgin & BMG respectively, to fill a hole in the EG Music Group's finances which had been used to fill a hole in the finances of Messrs. Alder & Fenwick, in respect of their business interests outside the music industry.
I spoke to all the former members on various occasions to update them on progress & developments, whi ch presented a clear opportunity to redeem the band from its frictive history.
Some / all of the other original members had already been discussing between themselves reforming and touring, which I was not party to, but which I discussed during 1991 with Peter Sinfield. The plans, as presented to me, were ambitious. They included filming the stages of the reformation process.
I expressed the willingness, in principle, to play with the other lads but, in practice, had no idea how. The decision to reincarnate Crimson for the 1990s was already taken, so a reformation of the original lineup not only held no interest for me in itself, but was a distraction from bringing a contemporary Crim into existence.
The principle of playing together a given, a little later (I think in 1992/3) it occurred to me how, in practice, earlier Crim members might Crimsonise. This was the original thinking behind fractalising Crim son's members into projects (or later, projeKcts).
The First Bright Wheeze was this: any member of Crimson, from any period, might choose to play with any other configuration of members, also from any period. Like, a trio of Tippett (an honorary member) / Bruford / Levin; or ... fill in the names of your choice. That was the idea. Nothing happened with it.
The Second Bright Wheeze occurred while working on "Epitaph" & "The Night Watch" with David Singleton, and anticipating celebrations of the 30th. anniversary. The power in the music, in the repertoire, and in the players excited me. My criterion for judging critical excitement level is simple: I want to reach for my guitar. This was the response while listening to the stunning, humming little sonic suckers of Crim's living history. So, my suggestion, and proposal was this:
A quartet of Ian McDonald, John Wetton, Michael Giles & RF would focus on the 1969-74 repertoire, rehearse together for a week, play-in the group for a week in US clubs, and then visit Japan for a week. All of the performances would be recorded (as per current Crim / RF Standard Operating Procedure). Four good players would get their teeth into whatever (still powerful) repertoire material appealed to them, and rock out. After this first period, the players would then have a sense of whether they wanted to take the quartet further.
This would not have been "King Crimson" and so would not have run into the expectations and promotion which would kill any "reformation". But in the anniversary year there is a logic to members of the 1969-74 period celebrating that period's repertoire.
I was excited. I spoke to Michael & John, who were both very interested. I telephoned Ian (in New York) from Chez Belewbeloible, Mount Juliet, and presented the idea to him. But Ian was locked onto the idea of reforming the original Crimson, and didn't entertain the idea. This was the end o f the Second Bright Wheeze.
The wheeze was last discussed one year ago between John Wetton and myself, who continued to be enthusiastic. With Ian's lack of interest I had let go of the idea, and by then the Double Trio was fractalising. P2 & P1 were both underway.
The Third Bright Wheeze is my response to ongoing approaches from Ian & Greg regarding a Crimso 69 reformation. I presented it to Ian during the `phone call referred to above (late 1997), and to Greg & his manager Bruce Pilato (Autumn 1998).
I have no interest in taking part in Crimson 69, but support the other guys if they would like to. Steve Hackett is my suggestion for the guitar stool. Steve was at the 1969 Marquee shows; very influenced by the 1969 group; a name player of the same generation; and has worked with Ian on some core Crim 69 material. This is not King Crimson, but might be Crimson 69. I would support the venture, so the public presentation is positive.
Actually, this is a Very Bright Wheeze. I'd go along and cheer. But neither Ian, nor Greg, nor Bruce were interested (I don't know of Mike's feelings, nor whether Steve would welcome an approach).
So, there it is.
Robert Cervero, a professor at Berkeley, is a friend of Manuel Castells and works two doors down from him. Manuel Castells is the author of a three volume study: "The Information Age: Economy, Society & Culture" which is my current reading. It is (so far at least) an exceptionally well informed & reasoned global overview of, well, economies societies & cultures.