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Born February 13, 1950, Peter Gabriel began playing music as a drummer in rock and soul bands. In 1966 with classmates at the British secondary school Charterhouse, he founded a songwriter's collective initially dubbed the Garden Wall. Soon, however, the band became known as Genesis. The band quickly attained cult status, releasing seven albums.
Gabriel left Genesis in May 1975 to pursue a solo career. His first three albums were each formally titled "Peter Gabriel," but are known as "Rainy Windshield" (1977) which included the hit "Solsbury Hill", "Fingernails" (1978) which featured "D.I.Y.", and "Melting Face" (1980), bearing "Games Without Frontiers" (a Top Five in Great Britain and a No. 11 hit in the United States) and "Biko."
Peter Gabriel's albums, live performance and videos since then have won him a succession of awards. He has earned a worldwide reputation for his innovative work as a musician, writer and video maker.
In 1980 he collected a group of people together to found WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance). In a series of international festivals, starting in 1982, WOMAD has brought together traditional and modern music, arts and dance from every corner of the globe. In 1993 WOMAD joined Gabriel's group of companies, based next to Real World Studios.
Peter Gabriel has released ten solo albums and in 1986, his album 'So' won him his first Grammy. The videos from this project confirmed him as a leader in video production and included 'Sledgehammer', which has won the most music video awards ever, including number one position in Rolling Stones' top 100 videos of all time and the MTV most played video of all time.
Shortly afterwards he established Real World Studios in Wiltshire, designed as an ideal environment for performance. It also became the base for Real World Records, a label which is dedicated to recording and promoting a wide range of different artists from all over the world.
In addition, Peter Gabriel has been involved in a wide spectrum of human rights and environmental issues. His song 'Biko' was the first pop song which talked about the effects of apartheid, and in 1988 and 1990 he was involved in the Nelson Mandela concerts at Wembley. In 1988 he worked with Amnesty International to set up the Human Rights Now! tour, and toured many countries with Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N'Dour.
Following this, Peter Gabriel initiated the 'Witness' program, which was launched in 1992 in conjunction with the Reebok Human Rights Foundation in the USA. The organization aims to arm human rights activists from around the world with hand held video cameras, computers and other tools of communication. To date, they have supplied hundreds of cameras to more than fifty countries, and have also set up a bi-weekly Witness web broadcast via Macintosh's Quicktime Channel. In 1989 Peter Gabriel visited the USSR to help launch Greenpeace there, and also contributed to the 'One World, One Voice' album, a collaborative album, which featured artists from all over the world.
Gabriel was asked by Alan Parker in 1984 to write the score for the film 'Birdy,' which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1989 he composed the sound track for Martin Scorsese's epic film 'The Last Temptation of Christ' which was the basis for one of his most experimental and innovative albums, 'Passion.' This album, which involved an extraordinary selection of musicians and singers, tried to integrate many very different styles of music. It was the inspiration behind the BBC's specialist radio programme, 'Mixing It.'
For the release of his tenth album, "Us," in 1992 he commissioned eleven artists to interpret the individual songs on his album. The individual works of art were featured at the British Contemporary Art exhibition in 1993 and also in a special exhibition in Japan. 'Us' earned him four Grammy nominations and two MTV Awards in the US and a BRIT and Q Award in the UK. The fourth single, "Kiss That Frog," was the starting point for the creation of the world's first motion video ride, entitled "The Mindblender." Developed in association with Mega in the US, 'The Mindblender' toured the USA and proved to be a popular mix of ride-motion, film and music.
April 1993 was the start of the "Secret World Tour." Produced by Peter Gabriel and pioneering Canadian director/designer, Robert Le Page, the show blended Le Page's visionary style of theatre with personal songs focused on relationships. It was seen by more than a million fans in five continents and toured for eighteen months. In November 1993 the show was filmed and recorded in Modena, Italy, by Francois Girard, and in August 1994 "Peter Gabriel Secret World Live," the double live album and video, was released.
In 1993 Gabriel set up Real World Multi Media and brought together a team of experts dedicated to developing, producing and publishing innovative CD-ROMs and pushing new technology to its limits. RWMM launched a series of multimedia titles, which went on to win many awards across the world, including the coveted Milia d'Or, two BAFTAS, the 1994 BIMA Award, the Sparky from the Interactive Media Festival and four awards at the Digital Media Awards. Among these titles were "Ceremony of Innocence" and Gabriel's CD-ROMs "XPLORA, EVE."
At the end of 1997 Peter Gabriel was invited by Mark Fisher to help create a show for the central space of the London Millennium Dome. 1998 was spent brainstorming ideas on the narrative and visual concept. In 1999, whilst continuing to be involved with the show's development, Gabriel composed the music. The show was opened on January 1st 2000. An album of this music, entitled "OVO," was released on Real World/Virgin Records on June 5th.
Gabriel's 11th studio album, "Up," was released in September 2002. Work began on the album in 1993, and while writing and recording "Up," Peter Gabriel also developed a stage show called "Zulu Time," with the French Canadian theater director Robert Le Page and released a score for the Philip Noyce film, "Rabbit Proof Fence," entitled "Long Walk Home."
"Up" is a new cycle of songs about birth, life and death, which elevates the standards for high-concept genre-breaking music the artist is known for. Long time touring band Tony Levin, Manu Katche and David Rhodes all contributed to the album, as did drummers Ged Lynch (formerly of Black Grape) and Steely Dan alumni, Steve Gadd. The Blind Boys of Alabama chime in on the soul and blues influenced "Sky Blue," which also features Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac fame. Gabriel himself produced the majority of tracks on "Up," although he collaborated on one track, "I Grieve," with Stephen Hague.
Hit songs include --
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