Robert Fripp in Dispute With David Bowie’s Estate
King Crimson leader Robert Fripp said he was trapped in a “Catch-22”-style dispute with the estate of David Bowie over recognition of his contributions to Bowie’s Heroes and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) albums.
Fripp said he was seeking a solution to a “historic injustice” in which the rules laid down by the U.K.’s Phonographic Performance Limited mean he can’t be named as a featured player on the LPs, despite what he believes to be hard evidence that he was.
“The dispute centers on the refusal of PPL and the David Bowie estate to acknowledge that RF's contribution to the Heroes and Scary Monsters albums is that of a Featured Player,” Fripp wrote on Facebook. “This accreditation as a Featured Player is supported by Brian Eno, Tony Visconti, David Bowie himself (although the terminology was not then in use) and the Court of Public Opinion over four decades.”
He noted that "essentially, the DB Estate argues that RF's Featured Performer Status is not acknowledged by PPL rules, and PPL argues that as the DB Estate does not accept RF as a Featured Performer, RF is therefore not a Featured Player – and their rules confirm this. Anyone read Catch-22?”
The “historic injustice,” Fripp argued, arose from the fact that organizations were sticking to rules that were unable to cover every eventuality. He suggested that a more appropriate approach would be the “the Principle of Progressive Approximation: Rules are fine-tuned to serve what is Right and True in our society.” But, he added, "this depends upon intelligence and goodwill, and a desire to create a fair and equitable society/business/community.”
Fripp said his previous experience suggested that the PPL would always side with the larger organization in any dispute, which in this case was the Virgin record label, rather than his own DGM firm. “Dear innocent, reasonable reader: Please note – we are dealing with the music industry here," he reflected. "Fifty-two years of direct, hands-on experience suggests to me that the majority of players who operate the system, operate the system to serve their own interests.”
His Facebook page also included links to articles about his work with Bowie, with a highlighted quote reading, “Between Bowie, Visconti, Eno and Fripp, everything was done by committee, with each person throwing in suggestions that might contribute to the final product.”