Peter Gabriel

  • British art rocker born in 1950 in Chobham Surrey.
  • Gabriel was one of the founding members of the rock group Genesis, in 1967. Genesis released 6 albums between 1969 and 1974, with Gabriel as lead vocalist and frontman. The band had moderate success in Europe during this time, and was gaining momentum in the U.S. In the UK, 2 albums were top 10, while in the U.S., the final Genesis album with Gabriel, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, made it to #41 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Gabriel was famous for wearing elaborate costumes while performing with the band.
  • In August 1975, Gabriel announced that he was leaving the band to pursue a solo career. Resentment was growing within the group as Gabriel wanted to lead projects, while the other band members preferred a collaborative approach. When his first child was born and had some early health problems, Gabriel stayed with his family rather than record and tour, which heightened the tension, and ultimately led to his decision to leave. Don’t worry – Genesis had a very happy ending as Phil Collins became the frontman and the band’s success blossomed in the 80s.
  • Gabriel released 4 albums between 1977 and 1982. All 4 albums were titled Peter Gabriel, with 4 different cover designs. When referring to the records, they are identified either by number (I, II, III and IV), or by the theme of the cover (Car, Scratch, Melt and Security). Singles from these albums were more popular in Europe, though in the U.S., Shock the Monkey, Games Without Frontiers and Solsbury Hill charted, with Shock the Monkey hitting #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
  • His mega success was his 1986 album So. It peaked at #2 in the U.S. and sold over 5 million copies there. Two singles were top 10 – Sledgehammer (#1) and Big Time (#8). In Your Eyes hit #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and Red Rain hit #3 on the same chart. Sledgehammer won a record 9 MTV Music Video award, and is the most played music video in the history of MTV.
  • In 1989, he released Passion, the soundtrack album for the film The Last Temptation of Christ. He won a Grammy award for the album, in the category Best New Age Performance.
  • The follow-up studio album to So, named Us and released in 1992, also was successful, peaking at #2 in the U.S. and selling over 1 million copies. Digging In the Dirt and Steam were #1 and #2 respectively on the Mainstream Rock chart. These songs also won Grammy awards for their music videos.
  • His 1996 Secret World Live DVD won a Grammy award for Best Long Form Music Video. I own this DVD, along with several other Peter Gabriel concert DVDs – they are all fantastic.
  • Since 2000, he has released 3 more studio albums, and 2 soundtrack albums. His most recent albums feature cover songs from other artists and recreations of his own songs, played only with a full orchestra and Gabriel’s vocals. In 2008, he contributed songs to the soundtrack for Wall-E. The song Down to Earth won a Grammy award, and also was nominated for an Academy award.
  • Gabriel became known for his art rock approach. His music videos are unique for their artistry, animation and special effects, and his songs often tackle social issues. His concerts are visual spectacles (see my Awesome! post from May 31 which shows his live performance of his song Downside Up, in which he and his daughter perform mostly suspended upside down). He is a champion of world music, incorporating many musical styles from around the world. He co-founded the WOMAD festival (World of Music, Arts and Dance) in 1982.
  • Peter Gabriel is one of my most favorite artists. Here’s the famous Sledgehammer video – you’ve never seen anything like it!

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