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 retuned 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 cofounded 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
February 13, 1950
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