Robert Fripp went to war in 1976: It’s a battle he’s still fighting

Robert Fripp went to war in 1976: It’s a battle he’s still fighting

It wasn’t on my bucket list to become an expert in music industry law under the tutelage of Robert Fripp – but it was an unexpected adventure. 

In 2013 I was Classic Rock’s online news editor and I’d run a story about Fripp discussing a potential reunion with David Bowie. Except I’d been wrong; Fripp had been writing about a dream he’d had, and asked for me to call him so I could clarify the situation.

Ever the swooping scavenger of scoops, then-Classic Rock editor Scott Rowley quietly suggested I should try to win an interview with the King Crimson icon, or find employment elsewhere. And I’m not sure how it happened, but it did. At the time Fripp was even more reclusive than he usually was (that’s changed in recent years, of course). He’d even shut down Crimson as an active art collective, citing the difficulties of fighting a legal battle against his label, which rendered him unable to give his music the attention it deserved.

And so it was that I visited Fripp and his manager, David Singleton, for an intense interview session where we covered nuance after nuance of how people chiefly interested in the business of music had brought a great creator of music to the point where he’d stopped creating. I don’t think the Classic Rock lawyer had ever been so busy – and yet, in the end, we managed to publish a story that was so effective it brought the label and artist back to the table, and Fripp soon felt able to reactivate King Crimson for the 2010s. Inviting me to a concert in Edinburgh, he wrote: “If it wasn’t for you, neither of us would be there!” and it’s one of the proudest moments of my career.

The last few years have been brilliant for King Crimson fans; they’ve had everything except new music. And although that seems unlikely now, Fripp has never been more active in making his work – and, importantly, the reasoning and motivation for it – accessible and understandable. To an extent, that is.

Also, sadly, the legal circumstances have ebbed and flowed over the past decade. Fripp did agree to offer some comments for the republishing of the story that follows, but the current situation means it’s best if he keeps his own counsel for now. The case, as they say, continues.

But if there’s ever the chance, I might just remember enough about music industry law to interview him about it.


Robert Fripp cast himself in the role of Willy Wonka when he locked King Crimson’s gates in 2012. He became his own version of a recluse, continuing to release limited-edition collections with extended sleeve notes and online diary entries explaining, in hard-to-follow terms, how he’d concluded his career was “an exercise in futility”.