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Fred Frith

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Sussex, England (1949 – present)

Fred Frith (born February 17, 1949) is an English , and improvisor.

Probably best-known for his guitar work, Frith first came to attention as one of the founding members of the English group Henry Cow. Frith was also a member of Art Bears, Massacre and Skeleton Crew. He has collaborated with a number of prominent musicians, including Robert Wyatt, Brian Eno, Lars Hollmer, The Residents, Lol Coxhill, John Zorn, Bill Laswell, Derek Bailey, Iva Bittová and Bob Ostertag. He has also composed several long works, including Traffic Continues (1996, performed 1998 by Frith and Ensemble Modern) and Freedom in Fragments (1993, performed 1999 by Rova Saxophone Quartet).

Frith was born in Heathfield in Sussex, England into a family where music was considered an essential part of life. He started violin lessons at the age of five and became a member of his school orchestra. But at 13 he switched to guitar after watching a group imitating a popular instrumental band at the time, The Shadows. He decided to learn how to play guitar and get into a band. Frith taught himself guitar from a book of guitar chords and soon found himself in a school group called The Chaperones, playing Shadows and Beatles covers. But when Frith started hearing music from the likes of Snooks Eaglin and Alexis Korner it changed his whole approach to the guitar, and by the time he was 15, The Chaperones had become a blues band. Frith’s first public performances were in 1967 in folk clubs in the North of England, where he sang and played traditional and blues songs.

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