King Crimson were giants of the progressive rock genre and one of their crowning achievements was their 1969 debut album In the Court of the Crimson King.
On this day in 1969, shortly after releasing their first album, the English band played in New York City on their first-ever American tour. The Fillmore East crowd witnessed the original lineup of Robert Fripp (guitar), Greg Lake (vocals, bass), Ian McDonald (woodwinds, mellotron) and Michael Giles (drums) cruise through a chilled-out, otherworldly performance of their stunning prog-rock. That night, they opened for the legendary Fleetwood Mac and Joe Cocker, playing just three songs for the entirety of their 27-minute set.
They opened with an early configuration of “Pictures of a City,” which demonstrates why so many fans preferred their live musicianship to their studio recordings. Greg Lake’s vocals are compelling and their instrumentation is grand and hair-raising as they dive into versions of “Epitaph” and “21st Century Schizoid Man.” According to Fripp, this show was recorded on eight channel multi-tracks, but the masters were stolen and have never resurfaced.
Listen to King Crimson’s full 1969 performance at the Fillmore East below.