The Court of the Crimson King

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"The Court of the Crimson King"
Single by King Crimson
from the album In the Court of the Crimson King
A-side"The Court of the Crimson King, Pt. 1"
B-side"The Court of the Crimson King, Pt. 2"
Released12 October 1969 (1969-10-12)
Format7-inch 45 rpm
Recorded21–23 July 1969
GenreProgressive rock[1]
  • 9:25 (album version)
  • 7:16 (edited version)
  • 3:22 (single version, Part One)
  • 4:25 (single version, Part Two)
Composer(s)Ian McDonald
Lyricist(s)Peter Sinfield
Producer(s)King Crimson
King Crimson singles chronology
"The Court of the Crimson King"
"Cat Food"
In the Court of the Crimson King track listing
5 tracks
Side one
  1. "21st Century Schizoid Man"
  2. "I Talk to the Wind"
  3. "Epitaph"
Side two
  1. "Moonchild"
  2. "The Court of the Crimson King"

"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 one of the band's only two charting singles in the United States.


The track is dominated by a distinct riff, adapted from Samuel Barber's "Essay for Orchestra" (1938), performed on the Mellotron; the main part of the song is split up into four stanzas, 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.[clarification needed] The music was composed by Ian McDonald, and the lyrics were written by Peter Sinfield.



Chart (1970) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 80[2]


  • Doc Severinsen covered the song for his 1970 album Doc Severinsen's Closet.
  • A French version, "La cour du roi musicien," performed by René Joly, used what sounds like a full orchestra instead of a Mellotron. It was released on the Pathé label in 1972.
  • It has been covered by British heavy metal band Saxon on their 2001 album Killing Ground.
  • The song was 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 at Hammersmith 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. (It was unknown, as of the middle of September 2017, whether any recordings of that Battle Of Bands existed.)
  • The song, sung by original lead vocalist Greg Lake, was featured in the set list during the seventh edition tour of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band in 2001.
  • Eläkeläiset covered the song on their 2012 album Humppasheikkailu as Humpan Kuninkaan Hovissa; this is a reference either to the album the song is originally from or to the song itself, as it roughly translates to "In the Hall of the Humppa King)."
  • Connecticut-based AOR band Arc Angel covered the song on their debut self-titled album.
  • The song was covered by The Claypool Lennon Delirium on their EP, Lime and Limpid Green.

In popular culture[edit]

In film[edit]

  • The track was used in the 2006 dystopian film Children of Men, appearing on its soundtrack.
  • The instrumental part of the song can be heard in the French movie Cinéman.
  • The track was used in background of the Bengali movie Dutta vs Dutta.

In television[edit]

  • It is 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.

In video games[edit]


  1. ^ Murphy, Sean (22 May 2011). "The 25 Best Progressive Rock Songs of All Time". PopMatters. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Hot 100 entry". Billboard. Retrieved November 14, 2017.

External links[edit]