Peter Gabriel (b. 13 February 1950)
Gabes grew up in public. Precocious and vulnerable, his relatively privileged upbringing (he schooled at Charterhouse) inured him from fear of failure. This gave him, for a time, freedom to make Genesis a really innovative group, who came up with several interesting albums before they morphed into a somewhat blander supergroup.
He left Genesis just as it began to take-off, with a gnostic note to the world that said “I had a dream, eye’s dream. Then I had another dream with body and soul of a rock star. When it didn’t feel good I packed it in…”
And that could have been it, going the way of Peter Green, Stu Sutcliffe, Bill Wyman, or the kid from One Direction. However, Peter Gabriel has outgunned and outlasted his erstwhile band, and become a global brand in himself, a kind of Gandalf with ubuntu and without the hobbits, his mellifluous voice, Wagnerian length and idiosyncratic song-craft complimenting his burgeoning reputation as a saint.
Marcus Berkmann has sagely observed, “As a rule, decades pass and civilisations rise and fall between Peter Gabriel albums”. Artists fret and tinker in order to get the right sound, watching that expensive studio time chew-up their profit margins, but we imagine Pete not fretting at all – just going over it again and again, until the sun blows up or the crew suicide en masse.
The Varnished Culture spent considerable time in the crepuscular light once, finding and circling Real World studios, just out of Bath. Box is a small, bleak nothing town perched on a ridge alongside a wet, green valley. Somewhere here, in an old barn, was the WOMAD headquarters. Turn from the wet, deserted main road onto Mill Lane and under a bridge, there ‘Real World’ is. L too bashful after all that to barge in! So we went to the local pub, ‘The Northey’ instead.
Some of our favourite Peter Gabriel songs:
Digging in the Dirt
Games Without Frontiers
In Your Eyes
Kiss That Frog
Lead a Normal Life
Moribund the Burgermeister
Not One of Us
Shock the Monkey