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Peter Gabriel Biography

Home > Music > G > Gabriel, Peter > Biography

Birth Name: Peter Brian Gabriel
Born: 1950/02/13
Birth Place: Chobham, Surrey, England
Years Active: 1967–present
Genres: Progressive Rock, Experimental Rock, Pop Rock, Art Rock, World Music

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. After leaving Genesis, Gabriel went on to a successful solo career. More recently he 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 founded Genesis in 1967 with fellow Charterhouse School pupils Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips, Mike Rutherford, and drummer Chris Stewart. As a member of Genesis, Gabriel became well known for his elaborate costumes and eccentric persona while on stage performing.

Due to creative tensions between Gabriel and the other members of the band, Gabriel left the group in 1975 after the release of the concept work “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,” a Gabriel-created concept piece which saw him taking on the lion's share of the lyric writing.

Gabriel refused to title any of his first four solo albums, which were all labeled “Peter Gabriel” using the same typeface, but which featured different cover designs (by Hipgnosis). They are usually differentiated by number in order of release (I, II, III, IV), 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 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.”

Gabriel recorded his first self-titled solo album in 1976 and 1977 with producer Bob Ezrin. His first solo success came with the single "Solsbury Hill." The song charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978, reaching the Top 70, though it was recorded in 1976, and appeared on the “Car” album in 1977.

Gabriel worked with guitarist Robert Fripp as producer of his second solo LP, in 1978. This album was leaner, darker and more experimental, and yielded decent reviews, but no major hits.

The third album is often credited as the first LP to use the now-famous "gated drum" sound. Collins played drums on several tracks, including the opener, "Intruder." The album achieved some chart success with the songs "Games Without Frontiers" (#4 U.K, #48 U.S.), "I Don't Remember", and "Biko".

Gabriel's fourth LP release featured his first Top 40 hit in the U.S., "Shock the Monkey", as well as the song "I Have the Touch."

Gabriel achieved his greatest popularity with songs from the 1986 “So” album, which produced three UK Top 20 hits ("Sledgehammer", "Big Time", and "Don't Give Up" — a duet with Kate Bush). The album also produced three Top 40 hits in the U.S., "Sledgehammer", "In Your Eyes" (featured in the John Cusack film Say Anything), and "Big Time" (Gabriel's most recent Top Ten hit), as well as the single "Red Rain". "Sledgehammer", peaked at #4 in the UK but was a #1 hit in the U.S.

In the 1990s and more recently he has been involved in producing music for films and has appeared on several soundtracks, resulting in the albums “Birdy”, “Passion” “OVO” and “Long Walk Home”.

His album “Scratch My Back” was released in February 2010 and in the United States and peaked at #26 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the Independent Albums chart and #3 on the Rock Albums chart on 12 March 2010.

Gabriel was awarded the Polar Music Prize in 2009. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (by Trey Anastasio of Phish) as a member of Genesis in 2010.