All about Peter Gabriel: the story of the legendary '80s musician
Peter Gabriel is one of the founding members of the prog-rock band Genesis, a British singer and songwriter. He had many hits, many of which I'm sure you've heard. Among them are "Games Without Frontiers," "Sledgehammer" and "In Your Eyes.
British musician Peter Gabriel founded the prog-rock band Genesis in the 1960s. After leaving the band in 1975 he achieved great success as a solo artist. His album "So." 1986 featured such hits as "Sledgehammer," "Big Time" and "In Your Eyes." Gabriel later released "Us" (1992) and "Up" (2002). He is also one of the founders of the WOMAD Foundation and the Real World Records label.
The beginning of the story...
Peter Gabriel was born on February 13, 1950, in Woking, England, and grew up on a farm in Coxhill near Chobham. His father Ralph was an electrical engineer and an avid inventor. Mother Edith passed on her love of music to her son. At an early age he attended a regular school, but from 1963 he began attending a boarding school at Charterhouse in Godalming.
At Charterhouse, Gabriel discovered a real attraction to music, and eventually formed the band Garden Wall with keyboardist Tony Banks, guitarist Anthony Phillips and bassist Mike Rutherford. In 1967, on the producer's advice, they changed the name of their prog-rock ensemble to Genesis.
With Gabriel serving as the band's frontman, Genesis released their first single, "The Silent Sun," in 1968, and their debut album, From Genesis to Revelation, the following year. Although the record failed to draw an audience, the band's follow-up, Trespass, fared better, and by the release of "Nursery Cryme" in 1971 Genesis began to gain popularity among listeners: they even reached the top 40 albums of the UK chart. It was also the first album with a new drummer, future hitmaker Phil Collins.
The next Genesis album "Foxtrot" of 1972 rose higher, taking the 12th place, and "Selling England by the Pound" (1973) became even cooler, reaching the 3rd place in England, and the success in the USA was also impressive. However, by this moment the band was better known not only for their studio recordings, but also for their live performances where Gabriel intrigued the audience with costumes and props.
Genesis continued to develop professionally over the next few years, but at the same time tensions began to arise in the band, in part because Gabriel began working with director William Friedkin and the band remained in the background.
Peter later told Rolling Stone in an interview, "Nobody from Genesis at the time was involved with any projects outside the band (except me). And so the guys were jealous of what I was doing. I was the frontman, and automatically everybody recognized me as the only creative person in the band, which of course was not true. And that's really unfair."
Peter Gabriel's last album with Genesis was 1974's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. And after touring in support of the album, Gabriel left the band. Phil Collins took over as Genesis' frontman after his departure, and the band began a new round of success. In 2010, Gabriel and other Genesis members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Gabriel's talents led him to a solo career. In 1977 he released his first eponymous album, Peter Gabriel, which included the single "Solsbury Hill. The album reached the top ten in the UK and the top 40 albums in the United States. Wasting no time, Peter Gabriel released his second eponymous record the following year. But it was with his third album of the same name, released in 1980, that real luck arrived: the album ended up on the music charts. The song "Games Without Frontiers" entered the Top 5 in Britain and the Top 40 in the USA. It also included the track "Biko" about the murdered black rights activist Steve Biko. Gabriel would later write on his website that the song was very important to him.
"I hadn't written overtly political songs before, so I was constantly tormented by doubts about whether it would be accepted."
While the musician was exploring his political consciousness, he was also interested in other forms of creative expression and helped found the World of Music Arts and Dance (WOMAD) festival. The first international arts festival, WOMAD, was organized in 1982, and has been a success ever since: to date, 170 festivals have been held in more than 30 countries.
As he continued to develop, Gabriel tried his hand at a new role as a soundtrack composer. He composed music for the 1985 drama Birdystarring Matthew Modine.
With his fifth studio album "So" (1986), Gabriel surpassed himself: reaching No. 1 in the UK charts and No. 2 in the US charts. His energetic and catchy single "Sledgehammer" became the #1 song in his repertoire and the rhythmic "Big Time" reached #2 in the UK charts.
Gabriel also demonstrated a giftedness by creating slower, dramatic songs such as "Don't Give Up" and "In Your Eyes." The composition "In Your Eyes," incidentally, became iconic after playing the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe's famous 1989 teen film, Say Anything.
Gabriel did not stop his social activities and around the same time participated in two tours in support of Amnesty International. His compositional work on soundtracks also flourished, and he did win his first Grammy in 1990 for his work on Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ.
Gabriel returned to the rock music scene with the 1992 album "Us," which featured such popular songs as "Steam" (No. 2) and "Digging in the Dirt" (No. 1), both of which brought Gabriel a Grammy win with his original music videos.
Almost a decade after "Us" Gabriel released the album "Up" (2002), which could not repeat the success of his previous work. Nevertheless, the songs "Signal to Noise" and "The Barry Williams Show" received positive reviews from critics.
Gabriel continued to work on a couple of thematic albums: first he released "Scratch My Back" (2010), gathering the music of many artists for listeners - it was a collective work. Many of these artists decided to write cover versions of the composer's classic works, thus paying homage to him. The resulting album "And I Scratch Yours» (2013).
Of course, Peter Gabriel was pleased! The following year he was honored even more, as he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. In the summer of 2016, he went on a joint tour with Sting, and it went great!
Gabriel is married to Meab Flynn. The couple has two sons, Isaac and Luke. Gabriel also has two daughters, Anna and Melanie, from his first marriage to Jill Moore.