Robert Fripp Recalls Jimi Hendrix’s Two Compliments
King Crimson leader Robert Fripp can be heard recounting the story of the one time he met Jimi Hendrix and was paid two compliments, although he knew about only one at the time.
The audio clip below is taken from one of Fripp's spoken-word performances, as he gears up for another round of similar shows alongside his manager, David Singleton.
Fripp explained that he met Hendrix at the Revolution Club in London in 1969 (although the date and location have been disputed by some fans). At the time he thought he was paid a great compliment, but years later he discovered he was given an even bigger one.
He started by saying it was the first time he sat down onstage, a position he maintains to this day. “I’ve always been a seated guitar player, and to work in a rock group you couldn’t sit down?” he said with surprise. “‘No one sits down to play guitar!’ But I felt, I think it was about after 12 performances … it was impossible for me to stand and play. So I said, ‘Look, I’ve got to sit down,’ and Greg Lake said, ‘You can’t sit down – you’ll look like a mushroom!’ My considered opinion was that the mushroom is a fertility symbol in many cultures!”
After using a newly purchased black stool for King Crimson’s first set, Fripp recalled that “backstage, a man came up to me in a white suit, with his right arm in a white sling. One of the most luminous people I’d ever met. And he came up to me and said, ‘Shake my left hand, man – it’s closer to my heart.’” It was Hendrix.
Listen to Fripp tell the story below.
Hendrix died in September 1970, but it wasn’t until 1981 that Fripp heard another part of the story from that night in 1969. He went for a drink with the sister of original Crimson drummer Michael Giles after meeting her accidentally in a bookshop. “She said to me, ‘Do you remember the time when Hendrix came to see King Crimson?’” Fripp recounted. “And I said, ‘Of course I do – it’s my Hendrix story!’ And she said, ‘Do you know that I was sitting on the next table to Jimi Hendrix. … He was jumping up and down and saying, “This is the best group in the world.”’
Fripp noted, “In all due modesty, that is one of the best calling cards any working musician is ever likely to be able to present.” His An Evening With That Awful Man and His Manager tour starts in Toronto on Sept. 16 and ends in Chicago on Oct. 9.