Re: Origin of the name King Crimson

Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2006 18:34:29 +0000
From: Mr Tea <ET01335 at elephant-talk dot com>
Subject: Re: Origin of the name King Crimson

This from jdanna03 at comcast dot net in ET #1247i...

> Specifically, does the name refer to the psychotropic mushroom
> Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric, which has long been associated with
> Beelzebub?

The name King Crimson was actually derived from a particularly potent 'brand' of LSD tab that was doing the rounds in the mid-to-late sixties. It was coloured with cochineal food colouring to distinguish it from 'ordinary' tabs, and was referred to as 'King Crimson' because of its effectiveness and vivid hue. Pete Sinfield was a heavy user when he first joined forces with McDonald, Lake, Giles and Fripp, and already had a bulging portfolio of far-out lyrics and poems based on the visions and hallucinations he had experienced while under the influence of the drug. One of these was, of course, 'In the Court of the Crimson King', and while the eponymous king referred to in the song may well be a reference to Beelzebub, it was the candy-coloured source of Pete's inspiration (rather than the result) that provided the newly-formed band with its name.

As any Crimson historian will know, Pete was a fearlessly adventurous drug enthusiast during the years that he was involved with the band, and he also indulged in regular cocktails of heroin and cocaine. The lyrics for '21st Century Schizoid Man' were written under the influence of this brain-frying combo, and there is an obvious contrast with the luminous, fantastical imagery of his LSD-inspired lyrics for 'Epitaph', 'Moonchild' and 'Court'. It's probably fortunate that the band didn't know in advance that 'Schizoid Man' would become their signature song for all eternity, otherwise they might have called themselves 'Speedball'.

pp Mr Tea


Mike Stok