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Peter Gabriel

He is an artist who breaks boundaries and conventions.

He wrote, played and sang with "Genesis", but he also has a rich solo career and quite a few collaborations.

Apparently the Progressive Rock genre would not have looked the same without him.


Here are some interesting facts about Peter Gabriel:


1. He was born on February 13, 1950 as Peter Brian Gabriel, in Surrey England.


2. He was born the same year as his "Genesis" friend Steve Hackett, only one day after.


3. His father Ralph Parton Gabriel was an electrical engineer. His mother Edith Irene was from a family of musicians and taught Gabriel to play the piano from an early age.


4. Already in school his teachers noticed his singing talent, but he was more attracted to the piano and drums, when at the age of 10 his parents acquired him a floor tam tam.


5. Gabriel spent the money his aunt gave him for voice lessons to by a "Beatles" album.


6. Already at the age of 12 he wrote his first song "Sammy the Slug".


7. In 1963 he joined his first band. A Jazz ensemble called "Milords", where he played drums and sang. Guitarist Steve Hackett will years later point out that Gabriel is actually a frustrated drummer.


8. In 1965 he co-founded a band called "Garden Wall", with his classmates Tony Banks and Chris Stewart.


9. In 1967 they disbanded and Gabriel, Banks and Stewart teamed up with Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford and began working on new songs, as part of the new band.


10. The first song written in the new lineup was "She is Beautiful" by Banks and Gabriel.


11. The demo tape was sent to their friend Jonathan King, who was very enthusiastic about the results, especially from Gabriel's voice. He quickly signed the band on a recording contract.


12. King suggested the name "Gabriel's Angels" for the band, but the rest of the members were not enthusiastic, so they compromised on King's alternative suggestion - "Genesis".


13. Following King's recommendation the band worked on pop songs with an emphasis on the "Bee Gees" style, that King really liked. Indeed one of the first songs Gabriel and Banks wrote was "The Silent Sun", in which the influences of the "Bee Gees" can be heard very well. The song became the first single the band released.


14. On March 7, 1969, the band released their debut album "From Genesis to Revelation". The album went in the same direction as King recommended, but failed commercially. Gabriel played the flute on the album.


15. Following the commercial failure of "From Genesis to Revelation", the band members moved on to pursuit other occupations. Gabriel went to play the flute on Cat Stevens' third album "Mona Bone Jakon".


16. During 1970 the band members returned to work together and in June began recording their second album "Trespass". Gabriel's contribution on this album was greater, both in terms of writing and of playing additional instruments, such as bass drum, harmonica and accordion.


17. He was one of the first to performed "Stage Diving". During the performance of the song "The Knife" at the "Friars" Festival in Aylesbury of 1971. He threw himself on the crowd only to see the startled audience move out of his way. The result was a broken ankle. At the end the audience brought him back on stage and he finished the song on his knees.


18. Following increasing pressure on Anthony Phillips during the tour of "Trespass", he announced his retirement from the band. Gabriel who was looking for a replacement guitarist responded to an ad posted by guitarist Steve Hackett in the Melody Maker newspaper, in which he stated that he was looking for a band. Gabriel contacted him and invited him to audition as Phillips replacement.


19. Gabriel advised Hackett to listen to "Trespass", before the audition.


20. Hackett passed audition and in 1971 the band, reinforced by Phil Collins and Steve Hackett, released the masterpiece album "Nursery Cryme".


21. This was the first album in which Gabriel played the oboe and also the first in which Gabriel wrote a story with characters and incorporated it into a song. It was the opening song of the album "The Musical Box".


22. At that time Gabriel began to combine his acting skills with the music of "Genesis". He was known for his theatrical performances, changing costumes and roles and he was the first to do so.


23. One version says that the idea to dress up in costumes came out because back then the band's amplification systems were not advanced and therefore the audience could not understand Gabriel's singing, so he wanted to show them the meaning of the songs using the costumes.


24. The first time Gabriel appeared with a costume was with his wife Jill's dress and a fox head mask, similar to the character on the cover of "Foxtrot"'s album. He did not reveal this to the band members and it was a complete surprise for them. They did not understand what Gabriel was doing and thought he was going to ruin the show. In fact the costumes caught the media attention and increased the band's popularity.


25. Another popular Gabriel costume was "Britannia", which he used during the song "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" from the masterpiece album "Selling England By The Pound".


26. Gabriel was also among the first artists to make physical contact with the audience. He used to fall from the stage backwards on the audience and allowed them to carry him.


27. In 1974 after six albums with the band, Gabriel decided to leave "Genesis". It was in the midst of a tour to promote the double album "Lamb Lies Down On Broadway".


28. After leaving the band, Gabriel took time for himself and his family. He began taking piano lessons and working on writing material for his first solo album.


29. In 1977 Gabriel released his first solo album produced by Bob Ezrin and included a collaboration with "King Crimson" guitarist Robert Fripp and bassist Tony Levin. Gabriel played keyboards and flute and the album included the hit single "Solsbury Hill".


30. In 1978 Gabriel released his second solo album, in which he continued his collaboration with Robert Fripp and Tony Levin. This time it was Robert Fripp who produced the album and this is reflected in the sound and effects used in it.


31. Gabriel's third album was released in 1980 and included collaborations with Kate Bush and Paul Weller, among others. His "Genesis" friend Phil Collins is also featured here in a few songs.


32. The song "Biko" from the album was written in protest against the apartheid regime and was influenced by the death of Stephen Biko - an activist against the regime, who died in September 1977 while in police custody. This was Gabriel's first activist act, he will later will be known as a human rights activist.


33. On February 6, 2021, on the occasion of the song's 40th anniversary, Gabriel released an updated version of it aimed at arousing global public opinion against racist countries, while mentioning countries like India, Myanmar, Turkey, China and unfortunately Israel as well. The video for the song was produced for an organization called "Playing For Change" and the recording features musicians from around the world and peace activists.


34. While working on his third album, Gabriel and Phil Collins, who were featured on the album, were partners in the development of the "Gated Reverb" effect. This was during the recordings of the song "Intruder". This is an effect that is mainly used to amplify the sound of the drums in relation to the other instruments and can be heard on the song "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins, from 1981.


35. In 1982, Gabriel released his fourth album, which included African music influences, such as in the song "The Rhythm of the Heat" and the hit "Shock the Monkey", which was relatively successful in the charts.


36. At the same year, Gabriel founded the World of Music, Arts Dance - WOMAD festival, which included music, art and dance.


37. Following the losses suffered by the festival and the creditors knocking on his door, Gabriel agreed in 1982 to join forces with his "Genesis" friends for a reunion performance held on 10/2/1982.


38. Later Gabriel founded the label "Real World Records", with one of it's goals being to reach young composers and new music.


39. In 1985 he released the soundtrack to the movie "Birdy", a film by Alan Parker from 1984. The album was produced by Daniel Lanois.


40. In 1986 Gabriel's big break came with his fifth studio album - "So". This is his most successful album which has reached sales of over 8 million copies. The album featured many artists such as drummer Stewart Copeland, singer Kate Bush and more.


41. The video clip for the song "Sledgehammer" from it, won 9 MTV Awards at a ceremony held in 1987. It's is the most aired video clip on MTV ever.


42. The song also managed to kick out his "Genesis" friends' song "Invisible Touch" from first place, on the American Billboard 100.


43. All of Gabriel's first four albums were called "Peter Gabriel".


44. Gabriel continued with minimalism when the title of the next three albums was a two-letter word "So", "Us", "Up.


45. In 1988 he composed the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese's film "The Last Temptation Of Christ".


46. In 2006 he won an award for his contribution to peace on behalf of the Nobel Prize Committee.


47. In 2008, Time magazine chose him among the 100 most influential people in the world.


48. In 2010 he was inducted as a member of the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame", along with "Genesis".



48. In 2015 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of South Australia. This was for his contribution to music.


49. You will not be able to take him out to eat a good steak in a restaurant. He is vegetarian.


50. He has four children from two marriages. Daughter Melanie Gabriel is a musician who also went on tour with him. His second daughter Anna-Marie Gabriel is a photographer who has worked with artists such as Robert Plant and Emmylou Harris, among others.


51. His two daughters also appear in the iconic clip "Sledgehammer".


52. Gabriel has released during his career nine solo albums and four soundtracks.


53. During his musical career he has also collaborated with many artists such as: Natalie Merchant, Elizabeth Fraser, Trent Reznor, Youssou N'Dour, Sinéad O'Connor, Kate Bush, Peter Hammill and many more.


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