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20 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel

pg dl1 20 Things You (Probably) Didnt Know About Peter GabrielPeter Gabriel At United CenterThe progressive-rock pioneer decided to add a special twist to his latest project, New Blood, an album of orchestral reinventions. Banning drums and guitar from his studio, [lastfm]Peter Gabriel[/lastfm] set about recording his New Blood album with a 46-piece orchestra, a move that required a complete rearrangement of each and every song. When it finally hit the stage earlier this year in London, the results were simply magical — and you can watch a Live on Letterman concert webcast right here (or on CBS.com) on Wednesday, Nov. 9 live from New York’s Ed Sullivan Theater at 9pm Eastern (6pm Pacific).

To get geared up, here are 20 great videos and facts you might not have known about the singer, songwriter, producer and former member of [lastfm]Genesis[/lastfm].


1. Peter was born and raised in Surrey, England. He attended private prep schools growing up learning to play the clarinet at an early age. The pupils he met at Charterhouse prep school would go on to a have a big influence in Peter’s life.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


2. Peter founded Genesis in 1967 with Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips, Mike Rutherford, and Chris Stewart, all fellow pupils of Charterhouse prep. Jonathan King, also a Charterhouse alum, produced their first album and suggested the group name Genesis.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


3. Genesis started to draw attention in countries throughout Europe due to Gabriel’s flamboyant stage presence. He was known for his bizarre costumes and stories he told between each song. Gabriel told these elaborate stories to buy time for the rest of his band to prepare for the next number.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


4. Gabriel’s costumes were becoming ever more popular. He wore costumes that helped audiences visualize the musical ideas of the songs. For example, he wore “batwings” for the group’s usual opener “Watcher of the Skies.”

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


5. A couple different factors played a role in Gabriel’s departure from the group in 1975. William Friedkin approached Gabriel with a film project, based on the group’s tour concept for The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Gabriel’s wife Jill also had a very difficult pregnancy with their first child. Gabriel decided to stay home with his sick wife and new born rather and record and tour.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


6. “Solsbury Hill,” Gabriel’s debut single as a solo artist, was written specifically about the group’s break-up. The song charted on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the top 70, it also appeared on the ‘Car’ album in 1977.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


7. Gabriel’s first four solo albums were all titled Peter Gabriel. The album covers all featured a different picture and Gabriel’s face obscured in some manner. Gabriel’s next three albums would be titled by two-letter words; So, Us, and Up.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


8. Gabriel toured extensively for each of his solo albums. Gabriel kept up his theatrics during his solo career, wearing unusual make-up and being suspended from gantries.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


9. Gabriel achieved his greatest popularity with his 1986 album, So. “Sledgehammer” was a #1 hit in the US knocking “Invisible Touch,” by Genesis, from the top spot!

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel

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10. Gabriel also achieved success with “Sledgehammer“‘s music video. The video dealt with themes of sex and sexual relations. The video was awarded numerous nods from the 1987 MTV Music Video Awards, and set a new standard for art in the music video industry.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


11. In 1989 Gabriel won his first GRAMMY award for Passion, the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ. He also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score- Motion Picture.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


12. Gabriel went on to win three more GRAMMYs. He won the Best Short Form Music in 1993 and 1994 for “Digging in the Dirt” and “Steam” respectively. He won the Best Long Form Music Video for Secret World Live in 1996.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


13. Gabriel is a master collaborator, playing in many projects over the years featuring countless amazing musicians. Some of these include, but are certainly not limited to: [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Robert Fripp[/lastfm], Steve Lilywhite, Natalie Merchant, Trent Reznor, Cat Stevens, Stewart Copeland, Sinead O’Connor, as well as a long standing relationship with Kate Bush.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


14. Gabriel’s roots lie in progressive rock, obviously by being one of the founding members of the seminal prog rock band Genesis. But also by featuring bass, stick, and longtime [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]King Crimson[/lastfm] member Tony Levin on every one of his solo albums and bringing him along on every tour as well.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


15. His interest in activism also extends to world music in general. He has featured increasing world music on his albums over the years, and this culminated in him being the driving force behind the World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) movement. He also created the Real World Studios a record label devoted to the creation and distribution of various world artists.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


16. Gabriel has always been on the forefront of technology, in the ’90s he developed some advanced multimedia CD-ROM based projects, creating the acclaimed and world’s largest selling music CD-ROM called Xplora. Next EVE, a music and adventure game, which won the Grand Prize at Cannes in 1996. Later on he was one of the founders of On Demand Distribution which was one of the first online music downloading services.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


17. Gabriel helped pioneer a new realm of musical interaction in 2001, when he visited Georgia State University’s Language Research Center. There he participated in a keyboard jam session with apes from the Congo. He continued his interest in the intelligence of primates and created ApeNet, a project that aimed to link great apes through the internet, which enabled the first interspecies internet communication.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


18. Gabriel’s roots in activism begin in 1986 when he began his longlasting association with Amnesty International, participating in all 28 of Amnesty’s Human Rights Concerts. Inspired by the work he saw going on at Amnesty he co-founded his own non-profit group in 1992, called WITNESS. The group equips, trains, and supports locally-based organizations to use video and internet in human rights documentation and advocacy.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


19. Gabriel had originally declared himself a supporter of the Labour Party back in the late 90’s in Britain, who won the election led by Tony Blair. Soon after Gabriel was named in a list of the largest private financial donors to Labour. However in 2003 once Tony Blair supported George W. Bush and the Iraq War Gabriel distanced himself from the party.

One More Thing You(Probably) Didn’t Know About Peter Gabriel


20. In November 2006, the Seventh World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome presented Gabriel with the man of Peace award. The award was given to him by Mikhail Gorbachev and the then Mayor of Rome. It was due to Gabriel’s extensive contribution and work on behalf of human rights and peace.


Peter Gabriel and his New Blood Orchestra perform a Live on Letterman webcast Wed., Nov. 9 at 9pm Eastern (6pm Pacific), presented by Citibank. Watch it right here or on CBS.com.

Best Sellers of the ’80s: Peter Gabriel’s So

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