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Robert Fripp reveals dispute with David Bowie's estate over 'Heroes' & 'Scary Monsters'

Robert Fripp has revealed he’s locked in a dispute with the estate of David Bowie over how he’s credited on the ‘Heroes’ and ‘Scary Monsters’ album.

The King Crimson guitarist worked with David Bowie and Brian Eno on the ‘Heroes’ album in 1977 and performed the iconic riff on the album title track.  

Three years later he joined forces with Bowie once again on numerous tracks on ‘Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)’ alongside producer Tony Visconti.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Robert Fripp revealed he’s locked in a dispute when he simply wrote: “Currently we are in dispute with the David Bowie estate and PPL (UK licensing company Phonographic Performance Limited), who refuse to acknowledge that RF is a featured performer on both Heroes and Scary Monsters albums.”


Taking to Facebook once again last night (24th September) to explain further, Fripp asserted that he should be credited on both albums as a “featured player” and hit out at the rules of “historic injustice” that are blocking his recognition.

Fripp’s post reads:

“The dispute centres 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. 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.

“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 PPL's rules and MO perpetuate an historic injustice. Rules are not God-given laws to maintain the universe: they are created by people to organise and facilitate interactions in a fair and equitable fashion; which, in the nature of things, can never be exactly foretold. So, with intelligence and goodwill, where the rules do not allow for what is Right to be acknowledged and addressed, the rules are modified to take exceptional / novel situations into account. This is the Principle of Progressive Approximation: rules are fine-tuned to serve what is Right and True in our society.

“However, this depends upon intelligence and goodwill; and a desire to create a fair and equitable society / business / community.

“IMO the correct approach for the PPL is to change the rules to match what is right. I note, our past DGM experience suggest that where there are conflicting interests, the PPL default position / MO is to side with the larger, established industry player, regardless of the actual situation; eg Virgin over DGM.

“Dear innocent, reasonable reader: please note - we are dealing with the music industry here. 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.

“Further commentary, with turgid legal commentary and rulebooks, evasion and prevarication, all available. This, a microcosm in our larger societal turmoil, as a new paradigm seeks to be welcomed into our suffering world.”

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