"The Court of the Crimson King" is the fifth and final track from the British progressive rock band King Crimson's debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King. Also released as a single, it reached #80 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Along with "Heartbeat", it is the band's only charting single in the United States.
The track is dominated by a distinct riff performed on the Mellotron. The main part of the song is split up into 4 verses, divided by an instrumental section called "The Return of the Fire Witch". The song climaxes at seven minutes, but continues with a little reprise (called "The Dance of the Puppets"), before ending on an abrupt and free time scale.
|"The Court of the Crimson King" (1969)MENU 0:00 37 second sample from King Crimson's "The Court of the Crimson King", demonstrating the sound of the first incarnation of the band, with its classically-influenced style and use of the Mellotron instrument.----|
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- Robert Fripp – guitar
- Greg Lake – bass guitar, lead vocals
- Ian McDonald – mellotron, harpsichord, organ, flute, backing vocals
- Michael Giles – drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Peter Sinfield – lyrics
- Doc Severinsen covered the song for his 1970 album Doc Severinsen's Closet.
- It has been covered by British heavy metal band Saxon on their 2001 album Killing Ground.
- The song has been covered by Asia on their 2006 reunion tour.
- The song was covered by King Crimson members Ian McDonald and John Wetton with Steve Hackett on Hackett's Tokyo Tapes and by Greg Lake featuring Gary Moore on Lake's Live atHammersmith Odeon 1981 live album released by King Biscuit Records in 1996.
- The song was covered live by Howard Stern's in-studio band The Losers. Their performance won a Battle of the Bands contest against Tina Yothers and her band Jaded, who performed one of their original songs.
- The song was featured in the set list on the 2001 tour of the Seventh Edition of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band.
- Eläkeläiset covered the song on their 2012 album Humppasheikkailu as Humpan Kuninkaan Hovissa.
The track was used in the 2006 dystopian film Children of Men, appearing on its soundtrack. It is also heard briefly in the first episode of the Red Riding trilogy. The song is also used widely in the Canadian television series Kenny vs. Spenny. The instrumental part of the song can be heard in the French movie Cinéman.