More RF correspondence

Date: Wed, 9 Mar 94 17:27:08 GMT
From: Toby Howard <toby at cs dot man dot ac dot uk>
Subject: More RF correspondence

Here is a letter to RF from DW of Kings Langley, followed by Robert's reply. (Here # == U.K. pounds sterling)



Attention: Robert Fripp - Recording Artist
Virgin Records
Kensal House
553-579 Harrow Road
London W10 4RH

Re: Royal Albert Hall performance- 5/12/93

Dear Robert,

I am saddened and let down by you. My wife and I have been fans of yours
for years. She saw you on the "Discipline" tour and I saw you for the first
time at the Royal Albert Hall performance with David Sylvian this month.

Well, actually, I didn't 'see' you. I 'heard' you - I think. You knew you
weren't going to perform and be lit at the same time, and we didn't. I was
simply confused. I didn't know where to look. Should I strain my eyes to
see your brilliant craftsmanship?

We have followed your career through The Roches, King Crimson, League of
Crafty Guitarists, etc. We know your sound. We paid to 'see' and 'hear'

Sure, I could have let go of my ideas or pictures of what a concert is
supposed to be like. I've done it before. However, I wanted to 'see' you
playing guitar.

The bottom line for me is that you didn't take responsibility for your actions.
You, nor David Sylvian, communicated to us about this 'choice' you made to
play in the dark. Since David was doing all the singing, maybe he could have
said, "Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, Robert will not be spotted with light
tonight because he finds it easier to perform in a dimly lit situation and
apologises for not being fully lit. I imagine you may have expected to see him
clearly because he is co-billed as the main attraction. He believes that this
choice of not being lit will ultimately provide him with the space to give his best
performance and thus give you your money's worth." Truthfully, I think it
should have been you saying this. If you did this, all would be forgiven - I
promise you.

At first, we spent most of our time thinking there was a technical problem.
Then we got the point. Then we battled between straining to see you play
your leads and, at the same time, focus on the distraction of the rhythm
section who were strongly lit in white light. As a trained concert listener
and viewer, I think the eyes and ears go to who is playing the lead if no
one is singing. Your not being lit knocked us off balance and detracted
from the whole purpose of the show which, in my mind, is to perform to your
maximum potential.

If that was your best effort, then I think you are a fraud or simply one
who is not an aware person. Not being lit, is a big 'fuck-you' to the
audience when you know perfectly well that people would be disappointed by
not seeing you.  It is a tease and a manipulation. Maybe one day you will
get the attention off yourself. Getting the attention off yourself is a
type of selflessness which is greatly appreciated by the listener/viewer.

A man once told me, "When you get to the point where you know you are no
better and no worse than any other being who has ever lived, you will have
reached your pinnacle as an artist." Until you reach that point, Robert, I
feel sorry for you and wish you peace of mind in the quiet, unconscious,
daily living 'hell' that you are keeping yourself in.

You can please send me #21 to pay me back for the show. You didn't earn it,
sorry. I am open to a reply from you.

For your information, I will not stop buying your recordings. I am not that
extreme, however, I have talked others who attended the show and have made
the decision to not support you any more with CD purchases or going to your
live performances.

Yours truly,


Dear DW of Kings Langley

I was saddened and upset by your rude, insulting, presumptuous and
deliberately unkind letter. That you have a sufficient passion for music to
write the letter is reassuring and heartening to me; that you allow no room
for any interpretation other than your own of the RAH show, nor an
alternative approach to audience/performer responsibilities, and respond
only in the nasty and graceless fashion which you have is
disappointing. Regrettably, the tone of your letter typifies the quality of
public debate. Given your intentionally offensive manner, you may
understand why I shall not enter a discussion with you regarding the issues
you raised, which are in themselves interesting and have been a major
concern of mine for many years.

If you consider me a fraud then you make my life easier: you abandon the
demands which your expectations make of me.

You "feel sorry for (RF) and wish (me) peace of mind in the quiet,
unconscious, daily living 'hell' that (I am) keeping (myself) in". Uh,
thanks for your kind feelings, Dave, and I'm really sorry that I'm such a
terrible person. Forgive me, but your arrogance is breathtaking, even to
one whose breath has been taken many times. Your only possible excuse for
that one is youth.

You mention the decision to support me, or not, through records and
shows. Although the audience can choose the performer, the performer has to
take the audience as given. This is clearly inequitable. You seem to assume
I want, and perhaps should be grateful for, your "support". My life as a
musician isn't undertaken either to get rich or become popular. So please
be informed that the author of your letter is not a person I wish to have
in my audience (whether in person or in an extended sense). Neither do I
want, nor feel the need for, your "support" nor for that of any audience
which assumes its right to impose on me its particular expectations of how
I meet my responsibilities (which your letter in any case disputes). I know
the extent of my training and experience, but I have met few members of the
audience whose training has been quite as extensive.

You ask me to send you #21 to pay you back for the show as I "didn't earn
it". I've considered the fairest response to this.  Firstly, you did at
least see David Sylvian, and three other musicians. My own contribution was
surely less than half.  Secondly, both audience and performer take a risk
on the performance. The audience gets an artist who may not meet their
expectations, and a performer might get someone as lacking in charity and
courtesy as yourself. Thirdly, anyone with a measure of familiarity with my
work (which you claim) might reasonably expect the performance to be
not-quite-as-you-might expect.

So, #21 shared between us both x 40% (a poor estimate of the 3 musicians'
performance) = #4.20. Although not much for you we haven't considered the
expenses I carry and I doubt that you'd want the bill for those. Enclosed
is a cheque for #4.20 on the understanding that you will never again come
to a concert at which I am performing.


Mike Stok