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.
In addition, Belew is well-regarded for his contributions, particularly on guitar, to various other artists' recordings. In 1977, he performed with Frank Zappa, appearing in Zappa's 1979 concert film Baby Snakes, as well as Zappa's controversial album Sheik Yerbouti, where Belew provides the memorable and scathing impersonation of Bob Dylan on the song Flakes. Belew played guitar in David Bowie's band on the 'Stage' world tour in 1978, and the following year contributed lead guitar parts on his Lodger album. In 1990 he acted as musical director on Bowie's 'Sound + Vision' tour as well as providing guitar/backing vocals.
Belew's other session credits include the 1980 album Remain in Light by the Talking Heads, 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 in her concert film Home of the Brave. He also worked with the Tom Tom Club on their first album in 1981. 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.
He is featured prominently on Tori Amos's 2001 album of cover versions, Strange Little Girls. He also contributed his lead guitar stylings to Porcupine Tree's album, Deadwing (2005) as well as to 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. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he played on one Talking Heads album and toured with them in 1980 before being invited to join King Crimson.
In April/May 2006, Adrian toured Australia with local musicians Al Slavik (bass guitar, stick and vocals) and John Prior from Matt Finish (drums).
Adrian is currently touring the U.S. with his latest band, The Adrian Belew Trio, which is rounded out by former Paul Green School of Rock students Eric Slick (20) on drums and Julie Slick (21) on bass. In August of 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia he performed on The Acoustic Planet Tour with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones and Umphrey's McGee, and the trio are currently recording Side Four, a live album compiled from their recent and upcoming tours.
King Crimson also has tentative plans to rehearse in September 2007 for a possible new record and/or tour.