Adrian Belew (born Robert Steven Belew, December 23, 1949, in Covington, Kentucky) is an American guitarist and vocalist (and sometimes drummer, pianist and bass player), perhaps best known for his work as a member of the progressive rock group King Crimson, which he first joined in 1981.
He has also released a number of solo albums for Island Records and Atlantic Records, and has worked with many other musicians. He was nominated for a Grammy in 2005 for his single Beat Box Guitar, in the category Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
Belew rose to prominence as a guitarist alongside several name acts before becoming the front man for King Crimson. He prevailed through a competitive audition to perform with Frank Zappa in 1977, appearing in Zappa's 1979 concert film Baby Snakes, as well as Zappa's controversial album Sheik Yerbouti. Belew then played for David Bowie's "Heroes" tour in 1978, recorded for the double live album Stage, and contributed to Bowie's next album, Lodger. (Later, in 1990 he acted as musical director on Bowie's 'Sound + Vision' tour while providing guitar/backing vocals.) Belew next assisted Talking Heads on Remain in Light and the subsequent tour (documented in the second half of The Name of This Band is Talking Heads), and played for Heads' side projects: the debut album by Tom Tom Club, The Red and the Black by Jerry Harrison, and several tracks of David Byrne's The Catherine Wheel soundtrack.
In addition, Belew is well-regarded for his contributions, particularly on guitar, to various other artists' recordings. His session credits include Lights Out by Peter Wolf, Earth Moving by Mike Oldfield and Paul Simon's landmark 1986 album Graceland. He worked with Laurie Anderson during the mid-1980s, appearing on Mister Heartbreak and her subsequent concert film Home of the Brave, and then again for her 1994 album, Bright Red. He contributed to a Ryuichi Sakamoto album called Lefthanded Dream in 1981, together with Robin Scott of the pop group "M". During the 1990s, he contributed to two Nine Inch Nails albums, The Downward Spiral and The Fragile. He played synthesized guitar on the song God Shuffled His Feet by Crash Test Dummies in 1993. In 1995 he produced two tracks on Jars of Clay's debut album, including the crossover Christian hit "Flood".
In the late 80s, Belew formed the pop band The Bears with ex-members of The Raisins (a Cincinnati-based band that had some local success in the early 1980s), and released two albums, The Bears and Rise and Shine. A third album, Car Caught Fire, followed in 2001. The Bears released their fourth studio album, Eureka, early in 2007.
He is featured prominently on Tori Amos's 2001 album of cover versions, Strange Little Girls. He also contributed his lead guitar stylings to Cyndi Lauper 's album, " True Colors", Porcupine Tree's album, Deadwing (2005) and a track I Can't Get Behind That, (also featuring Henry Rollins) on the 2004 Ben Folds-produced William Shatner album Has Been. He is featured as "primary guitarist" on the album Habitat by progressive rock band Man on Fire.
He even appeared in a series of Japanese advertisements promoting the mechanic company Daikin in which he emulated animal noises with his electric guitar and appeared as the conductor, conducting a symphony in which all the members were himself playing guitar.
Belew's vocals are known for their distinct, sometimes manic feel - his singing voice is often compared to that of Talking Heads singer David Byrne, an easy comparison after his early 80's work with that band. Robert Fripp considered David Sylvian for a new incarnation of King Crimson in the early 1990s, but Sylvian declined the offer. Thus, Belew has been their lead vocalist for every incarnation since 1981, and Crimson has used Belew's studio outside Mt. Juliet, Tennessee for rehearsals and recording since 2000.
In April/May 2006, Adrian toured Australia with local musicians Al Slavik (bass guitar, stick and vocals) and John Prior from Matt Finish (drums). In August of 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia he performed on The Acoustic Planet Tour with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones and Umphrey's McGee.
Adrian has intermittently toured the U.S. and abroad with his latest band, The Adrian Belew Trio, featuring former Paul Green School of Rock students Eric Slick (20) on drums and Julie Slick (21) on bass. The live recording Side Four was released on November 20, 2007.
King Crimson also has tentative plans to rehearse in September 2007 for a possible new record and/or tour.
Adrian is currently working with Trent Reznor on an undisclosed project.
Solo Albums Edit
- Lone Rhino (1982)
- Twang Bar King (1983)
- Desire Caught By The Tail (1986)
- Mr. Music Head (1989)
- Young Lions (1990)
- Desire Of The Rhino King (1991)
- Inner Revolution (1992)
- Here (1994)
- The Guitar As Orchestra: Experimental Guitar Series, Vol. 1 (1995)
- Acoustic Adrian Belew (1995)
- Op Zop Too Wah (1997)
- Belew Prints: The Acoustic Adrian Belew, Vol. 2 (1998)
- Salad Days (1998)
- Coming Attractions (2000)
- Lone Rhino / Twang Bar King (2005)
- Side One (2005)
- Side Two (2005)
- Side Three (2006)
- Side Four (2007)
Solo Singles And EPs Edit
Tom Tom Club Albums Edit
- Tom Tom Club (1981)
- Close To The Bone (1983)
- Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom (1988)
- Dark Sneak Love Action (1992)
- The Good, The Bad, And The Funky (2000)
- Live @ The Clubhouse (2002)
Tom Tom Club Singles Edit
- Wordy Rappinghood (1981)
- Genius Of Love (1981)
- Under The Boardwalk (1982)
- The Man With The 4-Way Hips (1983)
- The Pleasure Of Love (1983)
- Don't Say No (1988)
- Call Of The Wild (1989)
- Suboceana (Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom) (1989)
- Sunshine And Ecstasy (1992)
- You Sexy Thing (1992)