Robert Fripp’s Tip for Breaking Up a Band

King Crimson stalwart Robert Fripp looked back on the challenges of songwriting with other musicians, and picked out an easy way to break up a lineup.

“With Crimson [songwriting] was an open form of engagement, which has always been complex, always problematic and always very demanding,” Fripp explained in a new interview with Guitar World. “If you would like a band to break up, have writing rehearsals. What you do when you hit that problem is you get on the road. Then you introduce an audience into the situation, music comes to life and you’ll keep going.”

“Not that Robert is a bandleader,” Fripp continued, speaking in the third person, “but in terms of practical strategies for keeping the band together and working, you move from writing rehearsals as quickly as possible into live performance.”

Fripp went on to express his belief that all band members should receive equal credit on a song, regardless of each individual’s contribution — a rule he maintained in King Crimson, though it caused friction among the group.

“When Robert was the primary writer, even if Bill Bruford didn’t play a note he would receive an equal share of the publishing income,” the rocker explained. “Why? Firstly, because it exemplified the view that where there is an equal commitment there is an equitable distribution. Secondly, if Robert made a value judgement or recommendation that we go this way, there was never any question that my recommendation for either a musical or business direction favored me. There was never a conflict of interests with Robert. If I said, ‘Look, lads. I think we should do this,’ it was because I thought we should do this. Why? Primarily for the music, then primarily the interest of the band and so on.”

Fripp is currently engaged with his latest Guitar Circle retreat in New York, and he recently confirmed the publication of a book titled The Guitar Circle in which he explores the concepts of the organization, which revolve around attitudes to playing guitar alongside practicalities.

“It’s less what you do, it’s more how you do and why you do,” he explained. “We’ve now had guitar courses since March 1985 and the book is essentially a report on the history of Guitar Craft and the Guitar Circle to date. If you’re looking for a book of guitar exercises, this is not the way to go.”

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