Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Peter Brian Gabriel (born 13 February 1950, in Chobham, Surrey, England) is an English musician. He first came to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock group Genesis, the group he also founded in 1967 with fellow Charterhouse School pupils Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips, Mike Rutherford, and drummer Chris Stewart.

In 1976, Gabriel covered the Beatles song "Strawberry Fields Forever" for the musical documentary All This and World War II. He has also recorded covers of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne," the Gershwin standard "Summertime," the Magnetic Fields' "Book of Love," and The Four Tops' "I'll Be There." A cover of Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar", part of his set list for his first solo tour, is available on some bootlegs but was never commercially released.

Gabriel refused to title any of his first four solo albums, which were all labelled Peter Gabriel using the same typeface, but different cover art. He wanted them to be considered similar to consecutive 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 Car, Scratch and Melt respectively, in reference to their cover artwork. His fourth solo album, also called Peter Gabriel in the UK, was titled Security in the U.S., at the behest of Geffen Records. Even after acquiescing to distinctive titles, he has continued to use words as short as possible to title his albums: So, Us, and Up. His most recent 2xCD greatest hits compilation is titled Hit. Within the DualCD pack release one of the cds is titled Hit and the other Miss.

Gabriel recorded his first solo album (Car) in 1976 and 1977 with producer Bob Ezrin, titled Peter Gabriel. His first solo success came with the single "Solsbury Hill", an autobiographical piece expressing his thoughts on leaving Genesis, the single charted at 12 in the UK singles chart and 68 in the US Hot 100 chart. Gabriel felt that the album, and especially the track "Here Comes the Flood" was over-produced. Sparser versions can be heard on Robert Fripp's 1979 album Exposure, and on Gabriel's greatest hits compilation Shaking the Tree (1990).

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

His third album (Melt) in 1980, arose as a collaboration with Steve Lillywhite, who also produced early albums by U2 (Boy, October and War). The albums most notable release was the hit single "Games Without Frontiers", this album is generally credited as the first LP to use the now-famous "gated drum" sound, invented by engineer Hugh Padgham and Gabriel's old Genesis band-mate Phil Collins. 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 "In the Air Tonight" 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.

Storm Thorgerson was responsible for the cover art of the first three Gabriel albums, Thorgerson was a key member of the British graphic art group Hipgnosis, and designed many of their most famous single and album covers. Perhaps his most famous designs are those for Pink Floyd. His design for Dark Side of the Moon has been called one of the greatest album covers of all time. He had also designed the cover art for the Genesis albums - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974) and the album ...And Then There Were Three... (1978).

Recorded at his rural English estate in 1981 and 1982, Gabriel's forth album (called Security in the US), co-produced and engineered by David Lord, Gabriel took more responsibility for production. It was one of the first commercial albums recorded entirely to digital tape (using a Sony mobile truck), and featured the early, extremely expensive Fairlight CMI sampling computer. Gabriel combined a variety of sampled and de constructed 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 "Shock the Monkey", which also became a groundbreaking music video. "Shock the Monkey" only made it to No 58 in the UK charts and faired a little better in the US where it reached No 29 in the US Hot 100 chart.

7. "Shock the Monkey" was featured on the 1987 film, Project X, starring Matthew Broderick. "I Have The Touch" featured in the 1988 film, The Chocolate War; an alternate version of "I Have the Touch" was featured on the 1996 film, Phenomenon, starring John Travolta, and a cover version by Heather Nova was featured in The Craft.

Gabriel's music has appeared in many motion pictures and the three films that he personally scored these include Alan Parkers "Birdy", "The Last Temptation of Christ" by Martin Scorsese (released as Passion, with additional material found on Passion - Sources) and "Rabbit-Proof Fence" by Phillip Noyce (released as Long Walk Home)

Gabriel achieved his greatest popularity with songs from the 1986 So album, highlights being the '60s-tinged pop and suggestiveness of "Sledgehammer" (a #1 smash in the US, knocking Genesis's Invisible Touch off of the top spot), "Big Time", the ballad "Don't Give Up" with Kate Bush about the devastation of unemployment, and the love song "In Your Eyes". "In Your Eyes" later became ingrained in pop culture in a scene where it is played on John Cusack's boom box in the 1989 film Say Anything.... Gabriel co-produced So with Daniel Lanois, also known for his work with U2.

Gabriel's song "Sledgehammer" which dealt specifically about sex and sexual relations, was accompanied by a much lauded music video, which was a collaboration with director Stephen R. Johnson, Aardman Animations, and the Brothers Quay. The video won numerous awards at the 1987 MTV Music Video Awards, and set a new standard for art in the music video industry. A follow-up video for the song "Big Time" also broke new ground in music video animation and special effects. The song is a story of "what happens to you when you become a little too successful" in Gabriel's words.

Gabriel has worked with a relatively stable crew of musicians and recording engineers throughout his solo career. Bass and Stick player Tony Levin, for example, has appeared on every Peter Gabriel studio album (except Passion and Long Walk Home) and has performed on every Gabriel solo tour. Guitar player David Rhodes has been Gabriel’s guitarist of choice since 1979. Finally, Jerry Marotta has been Gabriel's preferred drummer, 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 L. Shankar, Trent Reznor, Youssou N'Dour, Larry Fast, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sinéad O'Connor, Kate Bush, Paula Cole, John Giblin, Papa Wemba, Manu Katché, Bayete, and Stewart Copeland.

Over the years, Gabriel has collaborated with singer Kate Bush several times; Kate 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 Roy Harper's "Another Day" was discussed for release as a single, but never appeared.

He has also collaborated with Laurie Anderson on two versions of her composition "Excellent Birds" - one for her album, Mister Heartbreak, and a slightly different version called "This is the Picture (Excellent Birds)" which appeared on cassette and CD versions of So.

Gabriel has been interested in world music for many years, with the first musical evidence appearing on his third album (Melt). This influence has increased over time, and he is the driving force behind the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) movement. WOMAD is a festival started in Shepton Mallet, England in 1982. The festival was pioneered by Peter Gabriel and various others including Stephen Pritchard, through their interest in sharing and celebrating world music, arts and dance. A typical festival will include varied live musical performances, workshops, stalls and events for children. In July 2007 Peter performed at WOMAD in Charlton Park for the first time in the 25 years of the festival.

He created the Real World Studios and record label to facilitate the creation and distribution of such music by various world music artists, and he has worked to educate Western culture about the work of such musicians as Yungchen Lhamo, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Youssou N'dour.

He was one of the founders of On Demand Distribution (OD2), one of the first online music download services. Its technology is used by MSN 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 and subsequently by Finnish mobile giant Nokia in October 2006 for $60 million.

Additionally, Gabriel is also co-founder (with Brian Eno) 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 Solid State Logic, a leading manufacturer of mixing consoles and digital audio workstations. SSL is among the top 2 or 3 recording console manufacturers in the world of recording.

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