Blame a meddling music label for Greg Lake’s fortuitous switch to the bass. He says childhood friend Robert Fripp needed a frontman for King Crimson — but Fripp, of course, already played guitar.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Together, Fripp and Lake helped make 1969′s In the Court of the Crimson King into the prototypical progressive-rock album. Oh, and Lake grew to love the new-found musical contours of his new instrument.
Fripp had originally emerged with a jokey band called Giles, Giles and Fripp, which Lake compares to Monty Python in a new talk with Howard Whitman of Technology Tell.
The record label, Lake tells Whitman, was all set to drop Fripp — demanding that they become more broadly appealing. Fripp asked what was required, and the answer came back.
A lead singer.
Thing is, Lake was the only vocalist Fripp knew. But he also played guitar.
Switching instruments was, of course, easier said that done: “I thought to myself, ‘Well, how hard could it be? Four strings instead of six, right? And I’m still the lead singer.’ … Of course, when I went to do it, I just thought I could knock off the bass the bass really easily, not realizing of course that playing bass is a whole art form in and of itself — it’s a whole world in and of itself. It’s a different role. It’s a different perspective.”