Robert Fripp, of influential progressive rock English band King Crimson, was procured and on hand by music producer Brian Eno for the recording sessions of David Bowie‘s 12th and 14th studio albums, 1977’s Heroes and 1980’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) respectively. In fact, it was Fripp’s lead guitar work for the iconic title track for Heroes that leads to a proper accreditation for both aforementioned albums, according to Fripp himself as a “featured player”. As reported in Pitchfork, Fripp is now in dispute with Bowie’s estate on how he is credited for his work, in a statement he released this past Tuesday, September 24th via Facebook.
Initially reported in Rolling Stone Fripp assertive in his Facebook post, “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.” In an interview that was conducted earlier this year in Rolling Stone, Fripp spoke of the free-flowing fun in collaborating with Eno and Bowie and went on to comment on the structure of the recording process for both albums with levity.
“With both of them, it was the same,” he said of working with the pair. “‘Here is a context. Robert, please go for it,’ with play and lots of laughter. Lots of fun.
“What I would ask for from David would simply be chords,” he continued. “So that I wouldn’t have to sit down and write out a chart for an hour, or whatever, so I could go in fresh. ‘Here is the map for the terrain — go.’ And it was wonderful.”
What is currently in dispute according to Fripp is how Bowie’s estate is not acknowledging his status as featured player due to rules set forth by the UK music licensing company, PPL. Fripp’s response to PPL’s rules has him quoted that they “perpetuate an historic injustice.” Fripp went on to detail his frustrations by stating;
“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. There are a small number of players whose aim is ethical action in business; not directing the industry to promote their own personal interests; these assertions supported by decades of documentation.”
The aforementioned article in Pitchfork concludes with them reaching out for comment from representatives of PPL, responding in-depth with the following statement:
“PPL licenses recorded music played in public or broadcast on radio and TV, and distributes the revenues it receives from the licence fees. In 2018, this resulted in PPL paying more than 100,000 performers and recording rightsholders. In making these distributions, we operate according to a set of Distribution Rules that have been in place for some time and were approved by individuals representing a broad cross-section of the recorded music industry including both Featured and Non-featured performers.
Whilst we are unable to comment on individual cases, performers are classified using a performer classification system set out in PPL’s published Distribution Rules. All classification is made based on applying the information we receive from the relevant parties to these rules. It is important to point out that the classifications within these rules do not seek to make any value judgement on the quality, importance or extent of a performer’s contribution on a recording. PPL is always mindful of the different ways in which all of our members can be affected by our policies and we remain committed to operating a fair and straightforward system of distributing revenue to all performers.”