Though I grew up listening to my parents’ record collection of such staples as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Santana, Dire Straits, and Neil Young, I felt that I was still musically malnourished when I realized that there wasn’t a single King Crimson record in that dusty old collection. (No offense, Mom & Dad.)
King Crimson was formed by frontman Robert Fripp in London during the inception of the prog-rock era in the late 1960’s. Their sound was not definitive, as they had many influences apparent in their music, more prominently hard rock, jazz, psychedelic rock, experimental, and classical, garnering them the genre inclusion of “progressive rock.” Although it is debated whether they are the original pioneers of prog-rock, King Crimson epitomized the genre through the heavy integration of jazz and rock, blending their many influences into a well-balanced but revolutionary sound that not only leaves room for improvisation, but calls for it. Their debut concert was at The Rolling Stones’ famous Hyde Park concert in 1969, playing to a crowd of over 650,000. King Crimson’s influence can be detected easily in music of both past and present, including rock behemoths such as Tool, Nirvana, Porcupine Tree, Iron Maiden, and The Mars Volta.
King Crimson’s sound embodies the mysterious folklore of groups such as Rush and Led Zeppelin, while evoking the similar provocative, dramatic, and acid-soaked sound of Pink Floyd. While they have not been cited to be the first prog-rock band in existence, King Crimson is quite possibly the most influential, and surely must be the godfathers of the genre.
Despite their frequent band member changes and two long hiatuses, King Crimson managed to continue their success, releasing a total of 13 studio albums between 1969-2003. In 1994 (after their second hiatus), Fripp re-formed King Crimson with a lineup consisting of members from the most recent incarnation along with two new members, Trey Gunn (chapman stick) and Pat Mastelotto (drums). While Trey Gunn was only a part of King Crimson until 2003, Pat Mastelotto is believed to still be an active member.
During their stint together in King Crimson, Gunn and Mastelotto formed a musical duo called TU, recording an album in 2002, which was later released in 2004. The dynamic duo later released a live bootleg album in 2005, followed by their latest in 2007 entitled “Thunderbird Suite.” TU maintains a progressive, enigmatic style, but can please a wide array of ears with their rhythmic, heavy, and groovy jams. Mastelotto plays drums while Gunn covers bass, chapman stick, and keys. TU’s live performances are also known for the artistic videos projected on screens during performances, making their shows an immersive experience that will titillate your senses, even tapping into the far edges of your mind you knew not existed.