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Adrian Belew

He is a musician, singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer best known as the guitarist and singer of "King Crimson", but he has played and collaborated with artists of all shades of the musical spectrum, including: Frank Zappa, David Bowie, "Talking Heads", "Nine Inch Nails", Paul Simon.

(Photo by Greg Cristman)


Here are some interesting facts about Adrian Belewת who celebrates his birthday today:


1. He was born in the city of "Covington" in "Kentucky" USA on December 23, 1949, named Robert Steven Belew.


2. The first instrument he played as a child was drums. He was also part of the elementary school orchestra.


3. In high school he started a cover band called "The Denems".


4. Inspired by Jimi Hendrix he started playing the guitar, it was very close to him for months when he was at home due to mononucleosis. At the age of 17, he was further inspired by a performance by blues rock guitarist Lonnie Mack, who later also became a close friend.


5. The first concert he ever saw at "Crosley Field", Cincinnati, in 1966 was by "The Beatles". He would later state that Paul McCartney is his favorite artist of all time.


6. Belew taught himself to play the guitar mainly by listening to records. He was able to find ways to imitate the produced and effect-rich sounds of those records himself, using unusual playing techniques.


7. He developed a very unique playing style and managed to make his guitar play non-standard sounds and imitate different effects and sounds such as car horns, animal noises or industrial sounds.


8. In the mid-1970s, Belew adopted the first name "Adrian" and moved to Nashville in search of a career as a professional musician, while at the same time playing in the cover band "Sweetheart".


9. In 1977 he was discovered by Frank Zappa at a "Sweetheart" concert. After a year, he received an invitation from Zappa for an audition. After he faild his first audition, he managed to convince Zappa to give him a second chance. It was an intimate experience in Zappa's living room, and in the end Zappa was impressed and accepted Belew to his band.


10. Belew accompanied Zappa in concerts and even got to sing solo in two songs. He was also a part of the 1979 "Sheik Yerbouti" album.


11. Adrian would describe the time he spent with Zappa as "Frank Zappa's school of rock". It was a crash course in music theory due to the rigorous rehearsals and technically demanding music of Zappa.


12. On the other hand, Frank Zappa would later say the following iconic sentence about Belew: "“Adrian Belew reinvented the electric guitar!”.


13. At the same time and on Brian Eno's recommendation, Belew received an offer to join David Bowie's band. Bowie and Iggy Pop were waiting for him in the hotel lobby after his concert with Frank Zappa in Berlin.


14. Bowie picked him up from the hotel lobby in a limousine to a restaurant, where by chance Frank Zappa also dined. When Bowie tried to get a response from Zappa about his offer to Belew Zappa said: "Fuck you Captain Tom".


15. Belew recorded the live album "Stage" from 1978 and the studio album "Lodger" from 1979, withh Bowie. Later he would return to work with Bowie as musical manager, guitar player and vocalist, on the "Sound+Vision" tour from 1990.


16. In 1980 he founded the band "GaGa", where he served as a singer, guitarist, songwriter and even as a drummer in the studio recordings.


17. At that time, Belew became friends with members of the "Talking Heads" band. He was invited to join their performance of the song "Psycho Killer" on stage and impressed them with his wild and unconventional guitar solo. Adrian will later be invited by the band to also play on the excellent album "Remain in Light" from 1980 and will later also play on the side projects of the bands members.


18. From 1981 until 2009 Belew was the singer, second guitarist and occasional drummer of "King Crimson". This is the longest continuous membership of a member of the band other than Robert Fripp of course.


19. One of Belew's conditions for joining the new "King Crimson" lineup was that Robert Fripp would allow him to continue developing his new solo career, Fripp of course agreed.


20. The new lineup of "King Crimson" also included former drummer Bill Bruford, and bassist Tony Levin. Belew became the first guitarist to officially play alongside Robert Fripp in "King Crimson" as equal guitarist (although Ian McDonald and John Wetton also occasionally contributed additional guitar on recordings). He was also the first singer of "King Crimson" to write all the lyrics by himself.


21. Belew will participate in 6 "King Crimson" albums, starting with the excellent trilogy of the 1980s: "Discipline", "Beat" and "Three of a Perfect Pair", through the excellent 1995 album "Thrak" to the last studio album "The Power to Believe" from 2003.


22. At the same time, Belew developed a solo career that began with the album "Lone Rhino" from 1982. To date, he has released no less than 18 studio albums as part of his solo career, the latest being "Elevator" from 2022.


23. During the hiatus taken by "King Crimson" beginning in the mid-1980s, Belew founded the pop band "The Bears", along with fellow guitarist and singer Rob Fetters, drummer Chris Arduser, and bassist Bob Nyswonger.


24. The band recorded and released two albums, "The Bears" from 1987 and "Rise and Shine" from 1988, but after three years of recording and touring the band broke up in 1989.


25. In 2005 his single "Beat Box Guitar" was nominated for a Grammy Award.


26. In 2006, Belew formed a trio that his fans called "The Adrian Belew Power Trio", which also made one performance at the "Barby" club, Tel Aviv, in 2016. Two years earlier, he appeared in Tel Aviv with the the "Crimson Project".


27. Belew collaborated with so many artists, which the canvas is too short to mention. Among them: Paul Simon in the albums "Graceland" and "The Rhythm of the Saints", "Nine Inch Nails" in four albums including "The Downward Spiral", "Porcupine Tree" in the album "Deadwing", Cyndi Lauper in the album "True Colors", Joe Cocker and even Jean Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield.


28. Belew created his unique effects application called "FLUX", which contains over three hundred different sounds which he describes as sounds that you cannot achieve with any other equipment. The apps have received significant recognition in the music industry, including two 2015 Webby Awards and 2015 Red Dot Design Awards.


29. Belew is considered a pioneer in the use of the guitar synthesizer effect, as he was one of the first players to bring them into popular music and use them consistently.


30. Belew also designed custom models for guitars, among others "Fly" model with "Parker" company.


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