Peter Gabriel

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  • So

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About Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel is one of the first artists to bring art-rock and world music into the mainstream. A key figure of the ’70s and ’80s, the British-born artist/activist started his career as the frontman of Genesis while still a teenager, helping forge a high-concept, restlessly ambitious sound that made the band a cornerstone of progressive rock. (Gabriel himself often changed costume multiple times during live shows, telling fantastical stories to hold the audience while the band re-tuned their battery of instruments.) Gabriel left Genesis in the mid-’70s and embarked on a solo career that shaped his arty tendencies into increasingly pop forms, culminating in 1986’s era-defining So. Along with fellow Genesis alum Phil Collins, he became one of the few progressive rockers to survive the cultural transition to punk and New Wave, turning out a series of singles (“Solsbury Hill”, “Shock the Monkey”, “Games Without Frontiers”, “Sledgehammer”) by turns rhythmic, sophisticated, elusive and complex, not to mention establishing himself as a regular face on MTV. A champion of world music, he also co-founded the annual WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) festival in 1980, later launching a label, Real World Records, dedicated to pushing international music onto a global stage. Relatedly, Gabriel has thrown considerable weight behind humanitarian causes, particularly in South Africa (his 1980 single “Biko” was named after anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko)—a legacy that led Nobel Peace Prize Laureates to award him a Man of Peace in 2006.

Chobham, Surrey, England
13 February 1950
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