King Crimson’s initial incarnation, sparked by a childhood musical connection between Greg Lake and Robert Fripp, was predicated on trying something new — indicative, Lake says, of an era when standing out was the goal, rather than fitting in.
“We formed this band, and we decided it had to be original,” Lake tells Gibson Guitar. “In those days, the currency was originality. You needed to be original. These days, it’s more like you have to be the same — to fit into some market concept, you know. Then, the idea was: You needed to be different.”
And different, they were. From groundbreaking song structure, to an iconic debut cover image, to their fantastical narratives, King Crimson was like nothing that had come before.
The basic underpinning for all of this experimentation, Lake says, would be unique, as well — at least for the times. King Crimson built off a distinctly European musical foundation of classical, folk and medieval influences.
“We decided we’d try and apply all new principals to what we did,” Lake adds. “One of the things we immediately decided: Most rock ‘n’ roll bands at the time, they drew their inspiration from American music — from blues, soul music, gospel. So, we thought, we’d look for something different.”
Lake would only stick around, however, for King Crimson’s initial two studio efforts — 1969’s in the Court of the Crimson King and 1970’s In the Wake of Poseidon. By the time the followup recording was issued, in perhaps another sign of the times, Lake had already left to form a supergroup with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer — the equally famous Emerson Lake and Palmer.