On July 5th, 1969 singing drummer Michael Rex Giles and guitarist Robert Fripp, along with bass-toting vocalist Greg Lake and woodwind/keyboard-doubler Ian McDonald took to the temporary stage in Londons Hyde Park for the purpose of entertaining some 230,000 fans whod assembled to enjoy a free concert, organized by the top-of-the-bill act, The Rolling Stones.
They were introduced as King Crimson, a name initially adopted on January 13th that year, received a warm response and following the immediate success of their debut long-player issued at home in October - IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING hit 5 in Britain and 28 Stateside - the career of the group's axis, Robert Fripp was elevated to a plane of idolatry from which it has never departed.
Born during the mid-1940s in Bear Cross, Wimborne, Dorset, the remarkable Fripp's recording history did not begin with Crimson though. He, along with the Giles brothers - Peter A. played bass - had in '68 taped a handful of sides under their previous group moniker, Giles, Giles & Fripp, and it is the fruits of those labours, some never before heard, which comprise the contents of that which accompanies this publication.
G., G. & F. were officially formed in August 67 in the south coast seaside resort of Bournemouth, a period Robert recollected for author Pete Frame some years later: "I was told that the Giles brothers had left Trendsetters Ltd., which was their group, and were looking for a singing organist. Since I was a guitarist who didnt sing I went along for the job - and after rehearsing for a month and doing tape recordings in the local Beacon hotel on a Revox, I said to Mike, 'Well, have I got the job? He rolled a cigarette, looked down, put the cigarette in his mouth, lit it, puffed on it, and said, 'Well, lets not be in too great a hurry to commit ourselves to each other.' In September we moved to London; I knew that as a professional musician I had to go there - it was the only place to go."
Having journeyed to the capital they obtained work at a Jermyn Street restaurant as backing crew for a diminutive Italian singer they secretly dubbed 'Hot Lips Moreno, but obviously the pairing was unsuitable for all concerned and after a week came a parting of the ways.
This era though witnessed massive changes in the structure of the pop music lndustry in Blighty, as the singles-driven 'commercial pop and album-based serious rock audiences diverged along different channels. It was a time when the opportunity existed for almost anything musical to receive a thumbs-up from companies who would have rejected much as too left-field for public consumption only a couple of summers earlier, and so it was that the quirky demonstration tapes presented to Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington - once of ex-Beatle Pete Bests quartet, but latterly exercising creative control over British Deccas new experimental Deram label - were greeted with open arms.
Having signed on the dotted line, no expense was spared in presenting their latest protégés to the hoped-for masses. A sizeable string section, two trombonists, a brace of keyboarder, and renowned female backing vocalist outfit, The Breakaways, were all put at our heroes' disposal as they cut a debut 45 and album to follow.
ONE IN A MILLION/NEWLY-WEDS - SINGLE VERSION was issued In the U.K. only as DM 188 on 10th May 1968, but disc jockeys and journalists had been blessed with their preview copies housing a Pete Giles-composed tongue-in-cheek hand-out in the sleeve stating: 'This is just another single from one of the countless groups who have come to London in the vain hope of making good. Later this year an L.P. of their compositions will be tentatively released to take its tentative place in a thick catalogue along with the hundreds of other LPs on current release.'
Prophetic words for both sizes of vinyl. The 45 met with scant bouquets and minimal sales, and since the group had no live appearances on the boards planned to promote their wares, its fate was sealed almost before it entered the marketplace.
Additions to Giles & Co.s official personnel were made on 7th June when the aforementioned Ian McDonald and his girlfriend, ex-Fairport Convention singer Judy Dyble entered the picture, but the lady quit within a month and lyricist Pete Sinfield - who would go on to King Crimson as light show operative and synthesizer contributor also - stepped into the breach.
None of these individuals arrived in time to add anything to the slab of twelve-inch plastic which was due, however, and in September THE CHEERFUL INSANITY OF GILES, GILES & FRIPP was to be delivered to United Kingdom record dealers as either DML (Mono) or SML (Stereo) 1022, American Deram responding with an identical package in aurally-divided splendour only wearing catalogue reference DES 18019. Sadly, chart action was conspicuous only by its absence, and although no documentary proof remains to confirm or deny the rumour, total sales in this country were supposedly restricted to some six-hundred copies. Completists may be interested to know that a straight re-issue was planned in the World Of' series, as SPA 123, in1975, and finished copies manufactured, but the project was aborted before general despatch.
An interesting collection containing two story narrations, Fripp's THE SAGA OF RODNEY TOADY and the 1942-conceived Mike Giles' JUST GEORGE, which weaved between crotchet and quavered epistles on ether side of the L.P., despite its humble retail pattern British Deram were willing to have another shot at the singles buyers. For this expectation on July 6th theyd all convened In Deccas West Hampstead-located Studio I to re-cut THURSDAY MORNING for a proposed top deck; borrowed ELEPHANT SONG in its original form from INSANITY, and thence ushered out the result as DM 210 on October 11th. Again the earth didnt move, and other territories sought no rights to reciprocal issue.
By now it was probably obvious to everyone that GiIes, Giles & Fripp was not going to 'happen,' but over the 28th and 29th of the month a final three track session was authorized. A Pete Giles composition, SHE IS LOADED - shown on our then Daily Recording Information sheet appended thus: (WORKING TITLE) (PROBABLY) JOCELYN ROSSITER. I dunno what it means, you work it out! - and two Fripperies, WHY DONT YOU JUST DROP IN? and UNDER THE SKY were the exertions.
None of these have previously departed the vaults to which they were consigned, and indeed no tape exists for DROP IN?, but the balance, already mixed into stereo way-back-when, now make up the first of our bonus tracks. Ill make no comment on them: listen in for yourself...
Additionally weve completed this wonderful slice of history by further suffixing every alternate take: the mono single versions of ONE IN A MILLION, NEWLY-WEDS and THURSDAY MORNING - ELEPHANT SONG on seven-inch was cut mono from the stereo mother - and round out with the previously unissued stereo mix of THURSDAY. Enjoy them all.
On November 15th, their obligations to Deram fulfilled, the inaugural plans for King Crimson were discussed. Fripp and Mike GiIes persuaded The Gods bassist Greg Lake to join them, and he travelled to London on December 2nd for that purpose. Pete opted for life as a computer operative, and later solicitors clerk, although he helped out Fripp on some Crimson studio dates after Greg went off to take his place in Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and also picked bass for several other acts on an ad hoc basis over the years.
Mike, the oldest member of G., G. & F., who'd started rattling the traps in 1954 and began gigging around Bournemouth fairly soon afterwards with any number of jazz, skiffle and finally, rock bands, quit K.C. with Ian in December '69 and they cut an L.P., aptly titled McDONALD & GILES, the next year before Mike disappeared into copious session work. Ian later re-surfaced as an instigator of Foreigner.
And Robert Fripp? This awesomely talented young man fronted King Crimson until its demise in 1974 and has since combined with Brian Eno, offered numerous solo sets, and even resurrected the red monarch signature briefly in the Eighties, as well as involving himself as session man and/or producer, with performers as diverse as Van der Graaf Generator, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Blondie, Daryl Hall and The Roches.
Here though we step back in time to re-live his earliest exploits on magnetic oxide, as one-third of Giles, Giles & Fripp. Prepare yourself for some CHEERFUL INSANITY...
© JOHN TRACY London, 1992