Robert Fripp

If you are a fan of progressive rock, art rock, or ambient music, chances are you have heard of Robert Fripp. He is the guitarist, founder, and longest-lasting member of the legendary band King Crimson, as well as a prolific session musician and collaborator with artists like David Bowie, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, and Talking Heads. He is also a visionary composer, producer, and innovator who has created his own musical systems and techniques, such as Frippertronics and new standard tuning.

Robert Fripp
Sean Coon from Greensboro, USA - robert fripp

Early days

Robert Fripp was born on 16 May 1946 in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, England. He received his first guitar for Christmas when he was 11 years old and decided to become a professional musician at 17. He started playing in various bands in the local scene, such as The Ravens, The Douglas Ward Trio, and The League of Gentlemen. He also studied economics, economic history, and political history at Bournemouth College. In 1967, he met drummer Michael Giles and bassist Peter Giles, who invited him to join their band Giles, Giles, and Fripp.

The trio recorded one album, The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles, and Fripp (1968), which was a mixture of pop, psychedelia, and comedy. However, the album was not successful and the band soon dissolved.

King Crimson

Fripp then formed King Crimson with Michael Giles, bassist and vocalist Greg Lake (later of Emerson, Lake & Palmer), multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, and lyricist Peter Sinfield. The band made their debut at the Hyde Park free concert in July 1969, supporting The Rolling Stones. Their first album, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969), is widely regarded as one of the most influential albums in the history of progressive rock. It featured complex compositions, virtuosic musicianship, symphonic arrangements, and poetic lyrics. The album’s title track became a hit single and an anthem for the counterculture movement.

King Crimson’s lineup changed frequently over the years, with Fripp being the only constant member. The band explored various musical styles and genres, from jazz-rock to heavy metal to electronic music. Some of their most acclaimed albums include In the Wake of Poseidon (1970), Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (1973), Red (1974), Discipline (1981), Thrak (1995), and The Power to Believe (2003). The band has also been known for their powerful live performances, which often featured improvisation and experimentation. King Crimson has influenced many artists across different genres, such as Tool, Radiohead, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Mastodon, and Nine Inch Nails.

solo career and collaboration

Besides leading King Crimson, Fripp has also pursued a solo career and collaborated with many other musicians. He has released several solo albums that showcase his unique guitar style and soundscapes, such as Exposure (1979), God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners (1980), Let the Power Fall (1981), and Love Cannot Bear (2005). He has also invented a tape delay system called Frippertronics, which allows him to create loops and layers of guitar sounds in real time. He has used this technique on albums like No Pussyfooting (1973) and Evening Star (1975) with Brian Eno, as well as on his own solo albums.

Fripp has also worked as a session musician and producer for many famous artists. He played guitar on David Bowie’s albums Heroes (1977) and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980), contributing to songs like “Heroes”, “Fashion”, and “Ashes to Ashes”. He also played guitar on Peter Gabriel’s first four solo albums (1977-1982), co-producing the third one with Gabriel.

He added his distinctive guitar sound to songs like “Games Without Frontiers”, “Biko”, “Shock the Monkey”, and “Here Comes the Flood”. He also collaborated with Daryl Hall on his solo album Sacred Songs (1980), Blondie on their album Parallel Lines (1978), Talking Heads on their album Fear of Music (1979), David Sylvian on his albums Gone to Earth (1986) and Secrets of the Beehive (1987), among many others.


One of the earliest and most influential collaborations that Fripp did was with Brian Eno, the pioneer of ambient music. They met in 1972 and recorded two albums together: No Pussyfooting (1973) and Evening StarHarnessing the Enchanting Power of the EBow (1975). These albums featured Fripp’s innovative use of tape loops and guitar effects to create atmospheric and experimental soundscapes that challenged the conventions of rock music. Fripp also contributed to Eno’s solo albums Here Come the Warm Jets (1974) and Another Green World (1975), adding his distinctive guitar solos and textures.

The League of Crafty Guitarists

The League of Crafty Guitarists
The League of Crafty Guitarists

Fripp also formed several bands and projects with other musicians, such as King Crimson, The League of Gentlemen, The League of Crafty Guitarists, and ProjeKcts. King Crimson is considered one of the pioneers of progressive rock, and Fripp has been the only constant member since its inception in 1968.

The band has gone through many lineup changes and musical styles, but always maintained a high level of creativity and experimentation. The League of Gentlemen was a short-lived band that Fripp formed in 1980 with bassist Sara Lee, keyboardist Barry Andrews, and drummer Johnny Toobad. They played a mix of new wave, funk, and rock, with Fripp’s guitar often acting as a lead instrument.

The League of Crafty Guitarists was a group of acoustic guitarists who followed Fripp’s teaching method called Guitar Craft. They performed intricate and rhythmic compositions that showcased their skills and discipline. ProjeKcts was a series of spin-off bands that Fripp formed with other members of King Crimson in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They explored various genres and improvisation techniques, often using electronic instruments and devices.

A man of many parts

The Guitar Circle book
The Guitar Circle book

Fripp is not only a musician but also a writer and a teacher.

He has written several books and essays on music theory, philosophy, spirituality, and personal development. Some of his books include The Guitar Circle: A Way of Doing Things (2021), Let There Be Life: A Scientific and Poetic Retelling of the Genesis Creation Story (2001), Power of a Woman: Memoirs of a Turbulent Life: Eleanor of Aquitaine (2007), Design and Science: The Life and Work of Will Burtin (2007), Dark Sovereign: A New Version for the Stage: The Tragedy of King Richard III that Wm Shakespeare Should Have Written (1991). He has also founded Guitar Craft, a school for guitarists that teaches not only technical skills but also discipline, awareness, creativity, collaboration, and self-expression.

Private life

Toyha Willcox
Man Alive!, CC BY 2.0 Toyha Willcox

Fripp is married to singer and actress Toyah Willcox, whom he met in 1985 and married in 1986. They live in Pershore, Worcestershire, England. They have no children but have several pets. They have also recorded several albums together, such as The Lady or the Tiger? (1986), Sunday All Over the World: Kneeling at the Shrine (1991), Robert Fripp & Toyah Willcox: Live in Japan – Velvet Darkness They Fear DVD/CD Set (1994). During the COVID-19 pandemic, they started posting videos on YouTube under the title Toyah & Robert’s Sunday Lunch, where they perform covers of various songs in humorous ways.


Robert Fripp is one of the most influential guitarists of all time. He has created a unique musical legacy that spans over five decades. He has challenged himself and his listeners with his innovative ideas, experiments, collaborations, and projects. He has also inspired countless musicians with his vision, passion, integrity, and wisdom. He is a true artist who has dedicated his life to music. He is Robert Fripp.

Equipment and or instruments

Robert Fripp has a very distinctive and innovative style of playing guitar, which he calls “Frippertronics”. He uses various effects pedals, synthesizers, and tape loops to create complex and atmospheric soundscapes. He also employs unusual tunings, techniques, and scales to create his signature sound. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and original guitarists in rock history.


Roland G-808 Guitar Synthesizer
Fernandes Goldtop
Burny Les Paul


Hiwatt DR103
Fender Silverface Champ
Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus

Effects Pedals

Eventide H8000FW Multi-Channel
Fractal Axe-Fx II XL
Revox A77

Keyboards and Synthesizers

Mellotron M400
Roland Saturn 09 Synthesizer
Hohner Pianet

Robert Fripp has used a variety of guitars throughout his career, but some of his most notable ones are:

Roland G-808 Guitar Synthesizer:

This is a digital modeling guitar that was released in 1980. It has a hexaphonic pickup that allows it to interface with various Roland synthesizers and effects units. Fripp used this guitar extensively in the early 1980s, especially with his solo project Frippertronics.

custom-made Fernandes Goldtop :

This is a Les Paul-style guitar that was custom-made for Fripp in Japan in 1995. It has a built-in MIDI pickup, a humbucker, and a Sustainer system that allows him to create infinite sustain and feedback. It also has toggle switches that let him switch between different modes and sounds. This is one of his main guitars that he uses for live performances and recordings.

Burny Les Paul with tremolo:

This is another Les Paul-style guitar that was given to Fripp by his friend and fellow guitarist Jakko Jakszyk. It has a coil-tap and phase-reverse switch for each pickup and a Kahler tremolo arm. Fripp uses this guitar mainly for rehearsals.

Robert Fripp has used different amplifiers depending on the era and the sound he wanted to achieve. Some of his most notable ones are:

Hiwatt DR103 Custom Head

This is a 100-watt tube amp head that was popular among many British rock bands in the 1970s. Fripp used this amp in the early days of King Crimson, along with a Hiwatt cabinet.

Fender Silverface Champ

This is a small 5-watt Fender Champ tube combo amp that was produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Fripp used this amp for recording the solo of “Evening Star”, a collaboration with Brian Eno. He blew the speaker during this session and later replaced it with a different one.

Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus

This is a solid-state combo Roland amp that was introduced in 1975. It has two 12-inch speakers and a built-in chorus effect that creates a rich and spacious sound. Fripp used this amp in the mid-1980s, especially with his project The League of Gentlemen.

Robert Fripp has used a lot of effects pedals to create his unique sounds and textures. Some of his most notable ones are:

Eventide H8000FW Multi-Channel Effects System

This is a rack-mounted multi-effects processor from Eventide offers a wide range of effects like delays, reverbs, pitch shifting, harmonizing, distortion, modulation, filtering, and more. It also has a FireWire interface that allows it to connect to a computer or other devices. Fripp uses this device as his main effects unit for live performances and recordings.

Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ Guitar Effects Processor

This is another rack-mounted multi-effects processor that simulates various amps, cabinets, pedals, microphones, and more. It also has a USB interface that allows it to connect to a computer or other devices. Fripp uses this device as an alternative to his Eventide unit for live performances and recordings.

Revox A77

This is a reel-to-reel tape recorder that was produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Fripp used this device to create his Frippertronics technique, which involves looping two tapes together and manipulating them with various effects pedals. He used this technique extensively in his solo albums and collaborations with Brian Eno.

today it is much easier to get into looping with one of the many Loop Pedals now available

Robert Fripp has also played keyboards and synthesizers on some of his projects, either as a main instrument or as an accompaniment to his guitar. Some of his most notable ones are:

Mellotron M400

This is an electro-mechanical keyboard that plays pre-recorded tapes of various instruments like strings, choirs, flutes, brass, etc. It was popular among many progressive rock bands in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Fripp used this keyboard on several King Crimson albums like In the Court of the Crimson King, Lizard, Islands, etc.

Roland Saturn 09 Synthesizer

This is a Roland analog monophonic synthesizer that was released in 1978. It has one oscillator with various waveforms, a filter with resonance, an envelope generator, an LFO, etc. Fripp used this synthesizer on some of his solo albums like Exposure and God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners.

Hohner Pianet

This is an electric piano that was produced in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It has metal reeds that are plucked by rubber pads when the keys are pressed. It produces a warm and mellow sound that resembles a clavinet or a harpsichord. Fripp used this piano on some of his collaborations with Brian Eno like No Pussyfooting and Evening Star.

Where to find Some music:


Q: What is Frippertronics?
A: Frippertronics is a term coined by Robert Fripp and Brian Eno to describe a technique of creating ambient music using tape loops. Fripp would record a guitar part on one tape recorder and play it back on another one, creating a delay effect. He would then add more layers of guitar on top of the loop, creating complex and evolving soundscapes.

Q: What is New Standard Tuning?
A: New Standard Tuning (NST) is an alternative tuning for guitar invented by Robert Fripp in the early 1980s. It is based on fifths instead of fourths, which means that the strings are tuned C-G-D-A-E-G from lowest to highest. This tuning allows for more harmonic possibilities and wider fingerings than standard tuning.

Q: What is Guitar Craft?
A: Guitar Craft is a series of courses and workshops founded by Robert Fripp in 1985 to teach guitarists how to improve their skills and creativity. Guitar Craft emphasizes the use of NST, picking techniques, posture, attention, and musical collaboration. Many Guitar Craft alumni have formed bands and projects inspired by Fripp’s teachings.

Q: What is Soundscaping?
A: Soundscaping is a term used by Robert Fripp to describe his solo performances using guitar and digital effects. He creates ambient and atmospheric sounds using loops, delays, reverbs, and other processors. He often improvises in response to the acoustics and mood of the venue.

Q: What are some of Robert Fripp’s influences?
A: Robert Fripp has cited many influences for his music, ranging from classical composers like Bach and Bartok to jazz musicians like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, to rock artists like Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. He has also been influenced by philosophy, spirituality, literature, and art.