Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel, as photographed by
Background information
Born ,
Origin , ,
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Occupation(s) ,
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Years –

Peter Brian Gabriel (born , , in , , ) is an . He first came to fame as the lead vocalist, flautist, and percussionist of the group , went on to a successful solo career, and more recently has focused on producing and promoting and pioneering digital distribution methods for music. In addition he has been involved in various humanitarian efforts.

Gabriel founded in while a pupil at with bandmates , , , and drummer . The name of the band was suggested by fellow Charterhouse School alumnus, the pop music impresario who produced their first album 'From Genesis to Revelation'.
A lover of , Gabriel was influenced by many different sources in his way of singing, mainly , of and . He also played the flute on Stevens' Mona Bone Jakon album in .
quickly became one of the most talked-about bands in the UK and eventually Italy, Belgium, Germany and other European countries, largely due to Gabriel's flamboyant stage presence, which involved numerous bizarre costume changes and comical, dreamlike stories told as the introduction to each song. The concerts made extensive use of with the normal stage lighting subdued or off. A backdrop of fluorescing white sheets and a comparatively sparse stage made the band into a set of silhouettes, with Gabriel's fluorescent costume and makeup the only other sources of light.
Among Gabriel's many famous costumes (which he developed partly as way of overcoming his stage fright) were "The Flower" (worn for "Supper's Ready", from Foxtrot), "Magog" (also worn for "Supper's Ready", from Foxtrot), "Britannia" (worn for "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight," from Selling England by the Pound), "The Old Man" (worn for "The Musical Box", from Nursery Cryme), "Rael" (worn throughout most of the performance of the album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway), and "The Slipperman" (worn during "The Colony of Slippermen," also from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway).
During "The Knife," a popular live song from the Trespass album, Gabriel would perform a stunt that, two decades later, became a fixture of hard-rock and heavy-metal concerts: . On one occasion, he broke a leg leaping into the crowd - but managed to climb back up onto the stage and finish the performance. Gabriel occasionally would fall backwards into crowds during his solo shows (notably shown in his PoV during the song "Lay Your Hands On Me") and allow the crowd to pass him around, but stopped crowd surfing as he became older.
Backing vocals in during Gabriel's tenure in the band were usually handled by bassist/guitarist , keyboardist/guitarist , and (most prominently) drummer , who (after a long search for a replacement) eventually became 's lead singer after Gabriel left the band in .
Gabriel's departure from (which stunned fans of the group and left many commentators wondering if they could survive) was the result of a number of factors. His stature as the lead singer of the band, and the added attention garnered by his flamboyant stage personae, led to tensions within the band. Genesis had always operated more or less as a collective, and Gabriel's burgeoning public profile led to fears within the group that he was being unfairly singled out as the creative hub of the group. Tensions were heightened by the ambitious album and tour of the concept work , a Gabriel-created concept piece which saw him taking on the lion's share of the lyric writing. During the writing and recording of , Gabriel was approached by director , allegedly because Friedkin had found Gabriel's short story in the liner notes to Genesis Live interesting. Gabriel's interest in a film project with Friedkin was another contributing factor in his decision to leave Genesis. The decision to quit the band was made before the tour supporting , but Gabriel stayed with the band until the conclusion of that tour.
The breaking point came with the difficult pregnancy and birth of Gabriel's first child, Anna. When he opted to stay with his sick daughter and wife rather than go record and tour, the resentment from the rest of the band led Gabriel to conclude that he had to leave, a decision he recorded in the song "".
Solo career
Gabriel famously refused to title any of his first four solo albums (they were all labeled peter gabriel using the same typeface, but different cover art), since he wanted them to be considered like issues of a magazine instead of individual works; they are usually differentiated by number in order of release, or sleeve design, I, II and III being referred to as , and respectively, in reference to their cover artwork. (His fourth solo album, still called Peter Gabriel in the UK, was titled in the U.S., at the behest of Geffen Records.) Even after acquiescing to distinctive titles, he cheekily used words as short as possible: So, Us, and Up. Even his most recent compilation has been called, simply, Hit.
Solsbury Hill single
The "untitled era"
Gabriel recorded his first solo album in and with producer , simply titled Peter Gabriel. His first solo success came with the single "", an autobiographical piece expressing his thoughts on leaving . In it, he sings, "My friends would think I was a nut...", alluding to his decision to begin a period of self-exploration and reflection, while he grew cabbages, played the piano for long hours, practised and , and spent time with his family. Although mainly happy with the album, Peter Gabriel felt that the track "Here Comes the Flood" was over-produced. A far simpler rendition can be found on 's album, , in his first compilation, and in his 2003 concert DVD. His recent live performances of this track are even more raw with just piano and vocals. The stripped-down version is on Gabriel's greatest hits albums (1990) and (2002).
Gabriel worked with guitarist (of fame) as producer of his second solo LP, in 1978. That album was darker and more experimental, and yielded some fine recordings, but no major hits. (Fellow member, drummer, , had previously served as ' live drummer while drummer attended to lead vocal duties in 1976 and 1977 including on the tour recorded as ). Gabriel's third, in 1980, arose as a collaboration with , who also produced early albums by . It was notable for the hit singles "Games Without Frontiers" and "," for Gabriel's new interest in world music (especially for percussion), and for its bold production, which made extensive use of recording tricks and sound effects. Gabriel's third album is generally credited as the first LP to use the now-famous "gated drum" sound, invented by engineer and Gabriel's old band-mate . Collins played drums on several tracks, including the opener, "Intruder," which featured the reverse-gated, cymbal-less drum kit sound which Collins would make famous on his single "" and through the rest of the 1980s. The massive, distinctive hollow sound arose through some experiments by Collins and Padgham. Gabriel had requested that his drummers use no cymbals in the album's sessions, and when he heard the result from Collins and Padgham, he asked Collins to play a simple pattern for several minutes, then built "Intruder" on it.
Arduous and occasionally damp recording sessions at his rural English estate in and , with co-producer/engineer David Lord, resulted in Gabriel's fourth LP release (the aforementioned Security), on which Gabriel took more production responsibility. It was one of the first commercial albums recorded entirely to digital tape (using a Sony mobile truck), and featured the early, extremely expensive sampling computer. Gabriel combined a variety of sampled and deconstructed sounds with world-beat percussion and other unusual instrumentation to create a radically new, emotionally charged soundscape. Furthermore, the sleeve art consisted of inscrutable, video-based imagery. Despite the album's peculiar sound, odd appearance, and often disturbing themes, it sold well and had a hit single in "", which also became a groundbreaking .
Gabriel toured extensively for each of his albums, continuing the dramatic shows he began with Genesis, often involving elaborate stage props and acrobatics which had him suspended from gantries, distorting his face with and mirrors, and wearing unusual makeup. For one tour, his entire band shaved their heads. His 1982-83 tour included a section opening for , where many audience members and critics thought that Gabriel as opener (especially with his elaborate makeup) overshadowed Bowie at the height of his popularity. The stage was set for Gabriel's true breakout with his next studio release.
The hit years: So, Passion, Us, and Up
Cover art from the album , Gabriel's biggest commercial success
Although early on he achieved critical success and some commercial success (e.g. "Games Without Frontiers" from his third album and "Shock the Monkey" from his fourth), Gabriel achieved his greatest popularity with songs from the album, highlights being the 60's-tinged pop and suggestiveness of "" (a #1 smash in the US, ironically knocked off the top by Gabriel's old band Genesis's ""), ", the tear-jerking ballad "" with Kate Bush about the devastation of unemployment and love song "." ("In Your Eyes" had a conspicuous inclusion in the film ; consequently, it was as popular that year as it was initially in 1986.) Gabriel co-produced So with Canadian , also known for his work with . Gabriel's song "" was accompanied by a visually stunning , which was a collaboration with director , , and the . The video won numerous awards at the , and set a new standard for art in the music video industry. A follow-up video for the song "" also broke new ground in music video animation and special effects.
Gabriel played a prominent role in supporting at this time, appearing on the 1986 U.S. (where "Shock the Monkey"'s percussive echoing around stadiums was a highlight) and on the 1988 worldwide .
In 1989, Gabriel released , the for 's movie . Many consider the album to be the climax of his work in . Following this, Gabriel recorded in 1992 (also co-produced with Daniel Lanois), an album in which he deals with the pain of his life problems of the previous years, his failed first marriage, and the distance with his first daughter.
Gabriel's introspection within the context of the album continues in "Digging in the Dirt", an extended metaphor which Gabriel uses to describe his process of trying to unearth the things inside of him that cause him trouble. Accompanied by a graphic and disturbing video featuring footage of Gabriel covered in worms, this song also made reference to the way media coverage seems to wallow in the foibles and mistakes of high visibility artists. Gabriel describes his struggle to get through to his daughter in "Come Talk To Me" which featured backing vocals by . The result was one of his most personal albums, though one with limited popular success. He followed the release of the album with a world tour. One prominent feature was a set-up that consisted of two stages: a round one and a square one, united by a bridge that he crossed riding a boat.
In 2000, Gabriel followed Us with the music to , a soundtrack for the in , and , the music from the Australian movie , early in 2002. In September 2002, he released , his most recent full-length album, which was entirely self-produced, and returned to some of the less commercial, darker themes of his work in the late '70s and early '80s. The album also shows Gabriel's continued freedom from the typical requirements for airplay of songs: aside from the ending piano ballad "The Drop," no song on Up is shorter than six minutes, and many go through several distinct movements, with great dynamics in sound and theme.
Musicians and collaborators
While the gaps between his studio album releases have become longer and longer (six years between So and Us, ten between Us and Up), Gabriel has continued to work with a relatively stable crew of musicians and recording engineers. and player , for example, has appeared on every Peter Gabriel studio album and tour since 1976 and player has been Gabriel’s guitarist of choice since 1979, both in the studio and on the road. Gabriel is known for choosing top-flight collaborators, from co-producers such as Ezrin, Fripp, Lillywhite, and Lanois to musicians such as , , , , , , , , and .
Over the years, Gabriel has collaborated with singer several times; Bush provided backing vocals for Gabriel's "Games Without Frontiers" and "No Self Control" in 1980, and female lead vocal for "Don't Give Up" (a Top 10 hit in the UK) in 1986, and Gabriel appeared on her television special. Their duet of 's "Another Day" was discussed for release as a single, but never appeared.
He also collaborated with on two versions of her composition "Excellent Birds" - one for her album, Mister Heartbreak, and a slightly different version called This is the Picture which appeared on and CD versions of So. In 1987, when presenting Gabriel with an award for his music videos, Anderson related an occasion in which a recording session had gone late into the night and Gabriel's voice began to sound somewhat strange, almost dreamlike. It was discovered that he had fallen asleep in front of the microphone, but had continued to sing.
Unusually, in Gabriel appeared on the soundtrack of , not as a composer, but as the singer of the song "That'll Do", written by . The song was nominated for an , and Gabriel and Newman performed it at the following year's Oscar telecast. Many who saw him on that broadcast didn't recognize him, since his hair had greyed and thinned since his most recent tour several years earlier.
Gabriel has also appeared on 's self-titled album, and co-wrote two singles.
WOMAD and other projects
Gabriel has been interested in for many years, with the first musical evidence appearing on his third album. This influence has increased over time, and he is the driving force behind the (World of Music, Arts and Dance) movement. He created the and record label to facilitate the creation and distribution of such music by various artists, and he has worked to educate Western culture about the work of such musicians as , and . He has also recently been interested in projects, creating the Xplora and Eve CD-ROMs. He has a long-standing interest in , and launched , a nonprofit which supplies video cameras to human rights activists to expose abuses.
Gabriel's song "We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37)" from So refers to , and in particular the 37 out of 40 subjects who showed complete obedience in one particular experiment.
He was one of the founders of On Demand Distribution (OD2), one of the first online music download services. Its technology is used by Music UK and others, and has become the dominant music download technology platform for stores in Europe. OD2 was bought by US company Loudeye in June of 2004.
Additionally, Gabriel is also co-founder (with ) of a musicians union called Mudda, short for "magnificent union of digitally downloading artists."
In June 2005, Gabriel and broadcast industry entrepreneur David Engelke purchased , a leading manufacturer of mixing consoles and digital audio workstations.
Recent work
Recently, Peter Gabriel has been working with video game companies and to aid in the sound production of their latest video games. The videogame featured the song "Burn You Up, Burn You Down" in several portions of the game. The song, in a different mix, features (who also collaborated with Gabriel on the song "Sky Blue") and was on a press release copy of Up, but deleted before the album's actual release.
Gabriel played on stage with 33 years after having played on Stevens' Mona Bone Jakon album. The event happened in during 's concert. The two British artists performed Stevens' old hit "Wild World".
The release of (developed by Montreal) featured a song called "Curtains", originally a B-side from the single to "Big Time" from So. The song, slightly remixed from its original version, is also often called 'Portal to ' or 'Portal to Dreamworld'. Gabriel also performs a large voice acting part in the game.
Also in 2004, Gabriel performed a cover version of "The Book of Love," a song by , on the soundtrack to the film . He compered and performed at the in July 2005. A of this show has already been released.
With his most recent release being 2003's Hit compilation, fans await Gabriel's next project, rumoured to be titled . It currently has no release date.
Peter Gabriel has two daughters from his first marriage to wife Jill: and Anna. Melanie was a backing vocalist during Gabriel's Growing Up tour, and Anna filmed a documentary of that same tour, called Growing Up On Tour: A Family Portrait, currently available on DVD. Gabriel and his second wife, Maebh, had a son, Isaac, in 2002.
A new double DVD set, Peter Gabriel Live & Unwrapped, was released on October 24th, 2005.
The next DVD release will be the concert film POV (Point Of View) - previously available on VHS. It is getting the full 5.1 remix treatment at the moment in his Realworld studios.
FIFA, the international football governing body, asked Peter Gabriel and to organize an opening ceremony for the finals in Germany, planned to take place a couple of days before the actual start of the tournament's matches. The man who only recently became a fan of the game and European champions Liverpool was working on songs for the show in Berlin's Olympic Stadium, although the show was cancelled in January 2006 by FIFA due to going overbudget and supposed lack of interest, though the official explanation was potential damage to the pitch.
Rumours of a possible reunion of the classic Genesis line-up have also been circulating, since Phil Collins stated in an interview that he is open to the idea of sitting back behind the drums and "let Peter be the singer." The classic line-up has only reformed for a live performance once before, . However, the group did work together to create a new version of an old Genesis song The Carpet Crawlers 1999 which was released on the Genesis Hits record. Supposedly the new version was very hard to put together. On December 1, , Genesis issued a statement saying the band has no plans to perform and that for at least the next year the issue will not be revisited.
Gabriel's song "" is the official theme song of World Wrestling Entertainment's .
Gabriel performed "Imagine" at the Opening Ceremonies of the in , on February 10, 2006.
has aired commercials featuring Gabriel's "."
Main article:
(I or Car, wet car cover)
(II or Scratch, scratch cover)
(III or Melt, melting face cover)
(German language version of III)
(IV, known as Security in the )
(German language version of IV; some remixes)

: soundtrack from the film ""
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