encounters a noteworthy musical marriage.
Toyah Willcox and Robert
Toyah Willcox doesn't introduce herself when you
meet her. She doesn't need to: there's no
mistaking the 4ft 10in of neatly-parcelled energy
which bounces into the room. Following her is the
5ft 10in of Robert Fripp, whom she married five
With gusto they launch into the story of their
marriage. The first two years were hard - Toyah
railed against being seen as Mrs Robert Fripp and
was furious when bank managers and accountants
wanted to speak to the man of the house. 'I had
been put on a pedestal because of my career and I
found it difficult to let go of the past,' she
Robert, who as guitarist and founder of the 70s
band King Crimson and collaborator with Brian
Eno, has seen a few pedestals in his time,
recalls: 'I saw that my wife was unhappy. Romance
is always presented up to the point of marriage
and then you are expected to get on with daily
existence. My wife found it hard.'
As they talk, Mr and Mrs Fripp look at one
another constantly. He calls her 'my wife' at
every opportunity, his conversation flowing
lucidly and logically for minutes on end while
Toyah tries to combine a loving smile with an
expression which will stop him talking. Having
described the entire music business as an
artistic cop-out, he draws breath. 'My wife often
tells me to shut up,' he says wit ha broad grin
which reveals the false tooth which Toyah likes
to remove and hide before photographic sessions
or important dinners. 'He gets pompous at times,'
she says, 'so I have to tease him a little. I
also hide the loo paper from him.'
'Because my wife is 12 years younger than me, she
is constantly revealing elements of herself which
are a joyful and pleasant surprise,' says Robert,
with a hint of what may, or may not be, irony.
'She is all her public persona makes her out to
be and more.'
The couple live in Reddish House in Dorset,
formerly the home of Cecil Beaton, and a place
that they anticipate will take ten years to
finish restoring. 'I saw it advertised in Country
Life,' says Toyah, revealing a surprising
streak of hard-line conventionality, 'and I told
Robert to go and look at it because I had a
strong feeling that we would live there. He
didn't have time because he was just off to
America, but I knew that of the house was for us,
it would still be available when he returned, and
Robert now spends much of his time in Dorset,
which is where he grew up, and has founded a
guitar school there. Toyah, however, says: 'I am
not quite homebound yet,' and is based in London
for her acting and musical work, where she stays
on friends' sofas.
When they are together, Mr and Mrs Fripp spend
their time visiting stately homes, going to the
cinema and fighting. 'Not aggressively, though,'
says Toyah. 'It's just that I'm a very physical
person and I love fighting. I use it as a way to
Robert, whose idea of a good time is sitting down
with a cappuccino and a good book, readily admits
he is no match for her, but is happy to be
assaulted if it pleases Toyah.
Toyah says that the relationship works because of
their differences. In fact, she and Robert seem
to have a great deal in common.
Standard Magazine, July 1991