Peter Brian Gabriel (born 13 February 1950) is an English singer, musician, and songwriter who rose to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock group Genesis. He is one of the most loved musicians in the prog scene. After leaving Genesis, Peter Gabriel went on to a successful solo career. His music has encompassed various styles ranging from progressive to pop rock and to world music. His 1986 album, So, is his most commercially successful, and the album's biggest hit, "Sledgehammer", won a record nine MTV Awards at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards, and the song is the most played music video in the history of the station. More recently, Gabriel has focused on producing and promoting world music and pioneering digital distribution methods for music. He has also been involved in various humanitarian efforts. Gabriel has won numerous music awards throughout his career, including three Brit Awards -winning Best British Male in 1987-, six Grammy Awards, thirteen MTV Video Music Awards, and in 2007 he was honoured as a BMI Icon at the 57th annual BMI London Awards for his “influence on generations of music makers.” Gabriel was also awarded the Polar Music Prize in 2009, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010.
Peter Gabriel played drums in his first rock bands. He founded Genesis in 1967 with fellow Charterhouse School pupils Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips, Mike Rutherford, and drummer Chris Stewart. The name of the band was suggested by fellow Charterhouse alumnus, the pop music impresario Jonathan King, who produced their first album, From Genesis to Revelation. Gabriel was influenced by many different sources in his way of singing, such as Family lead singer Roger Chapman. In 1970, he played the flute on Cat Stevens' album, Mona Bone Jakon. Genesis drew some attention in Britain and eventually also in Italy, Belgium, Germany and other European countries, largely due to Peter Gabriel's flamboyant stage presence, which involved numerous bizarre costume changes and comical, dreamlike stories told as the introduction to each song (originally Gabriel developed these stories solely to cover the time between songs that the rest of the band would take tuning their instruments and fixing technical glitches). The concerts made extensive use of black light with the normal stage lighting subdued or off. A backdrop of fluorescent white sheets and a comparatively sparse stage made the band into a set of silhouettes, with Gabriel's fluorescent costume and make-up providing the only other sources of light. Early Genesis concerts were hampered by a bad PA system which made it difficult for audiences to understand what Gabriel was singing. According to Mike Rutherford, this drove Gabriel to find other ways to impress his personality on the audience, leading to his performing in various costumes. In an episode of the 2007 British documentary series Seven Ages of Rock, Steve Hackett recalled the first appearance of Gabriel in costume. It was the dress-wearing, fox-headed entity immortalised on the cover of Foxtrot. Hackett and the rest of the band had no inkling that Gabriel was going to do this, and at the time Hackett worried that it would ruin the performance. However, it was a success, encouraging Gabriel to continue wearing costumes while singing.
Among Gabriel's many famous costumes, which he developed to visualise the musical ideas of the band as well as to gain press coverage, were "Batwings" for the band's usual opening number, "Watcher of the Skies".
Other costumes included "The Flower" and "Magog", which were both alternately worn for "Supper's Ready" from the album Foxtrot.
"Britannia" was worn for "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight", and "The Reverend" for "The Battle of Epping Forest" (both from Selling England by the Pound).
"The Old Man" was worn for "The Musical Box" from Nursery Cryme. "The Slipperman" and "Rael" were worn during "The Colony of Slippermen", in which "Rael" was the protagonist of the album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Peter Gabriel recorded with Genesis six albums; the last of them was The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Tensions within the band led to Gabriel's departure from Genesis in 1975.
Peter Gabriel started his solo career in 1977, and since then he has released 8 studio albums, 2 live albums, 3 original soundtracks and 3 compilations, always with the collaboration of a lot of different and great musicians and playing different musical styles. Gabriel refused to title any of his first four solo albums, which were all labelled Peter Gabriel using the same typeface, but which featured different cover designs by Hipgnosis; in all of these designs, Gabriel's face is wholly or partially obscured in some way. The albums are usually differentiated by number in order of release (1, 2, 3, 4), or by sleeve design, with the first three solo albums often referred to as Car, Scratch and Melt respectively, in reference to their cover artwork. His first two albums count with the production and guitars of King Crimson's Robert Fripp and Tony Levin on bass, being Tony an active member of Peter's band since then. His fourth solo album, also called Peter Gabriel, was titled Security in the U.S. at the behest of Geffen Records. After acquiescing to distinctive titles, Gabriel used a series of 2-letter words to title his next three albums: So, Us, and Up. His most recent greatest hits compilation is titled Hit; within the two-CD package, disc one is labelled "Hit" and disc two is labelled "Miss".
|Peter Gabriel 1 (Car) cover|
|Peter Gabriel 2 (Scratch) cover|
|Peter Gabriel 3 (Melt) cover|
|Peter Gabriel 4 (Security) cover|
1977-1985: Peter Gabriel albums (1, 2, 3, 4)
Gabriel recorded his first self-titled solo album, Peter Gabriel 1 (Car), in 1976 and 1977 with producer Bob Ezrin. His first solo success came with the single "Solsbury Hill", an autobiographical piece expressing his thoughts on leaving Genesis.
No self control
The rhythm of the heat
Alan Parker's Birdy trailer-Peter Gabriel's soundtrack
Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ trailer-Peter Gabriel's soundtrack
Phillip Noyce's Rabbit Proof Fence trailer-Peter Gabriel's soundtrack
My head sounds like that
Peter Gabriel 1 (Car, 1977)
Peter Gabriel 2 (Scratch, 1978)
Peter Gabriel 3 (Melt, 1980)
Peter Gabriel 4 (Security, 1982)
Scratch My Back (2010)
New Blood (2011)
Long Walk Home (2002)