King Crimson are an English progressive rock band founded by guitarist Robert Fripp and drummer Michael Giles in 1969.
They have typically been categorised as a foundational progressive rock group, although they incorporate diverse influences ranging from jazz, classical and experimental music to psychedelic, New Wave, hard rock, gamelan and folk music. King Crimson have garnered little radio or music video airplay, but gained a large cult following. Their debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King , is widely regarded as a landmark in progressive rock. Their later excursions into even more unconventional territory have been influential on many contemporary musical artists.
Throughout the early-1970s, King Crimson's membership fluctuated as the band explored elements of jazz and funk. Today, its early music seems to owe a lot to the compositional frameworks of jazz innovators, like Charles Mingus. As the band developed an improvisational sound influenced by hard rock, the band's personnel became more stable in the mid-1970s, before breaking up in 1974. The band re-formed in 1981 for three years, influenced by New Wave and gamelan music, before breaking up again for around a decade. Following their 1994 reunion, King Crimson blended aspects of their 1980s and 1970s sound with influences from more recent musical genres, a synthesis which has continued into the 21st century.
King Crimson's membership has fluctuated considerably throughout their existence, with eighteen musicians and two lyricists passing through the ranks as full band members. Fripp, the only constant member of King Crimson, has arranged several distinct lineups, but has stated that he does not necessarily consider himself the band's leader. He describes King Crimson as "a way of doing things", and notes that he never originally intended to be seen as the head of the group.