Peter Gabriel Is A Legend
Getting An Early Start
When it comes to rock music, few decades were as influential as the 1980s. The 80s were filled with songs that brought home important messages – remember Live Aid? – and were a lot of fun as well, and few solo artists were as successful and active both on and off the stage as Peter Gabriel. You don’t have to think hard to come up with reasons why Peter Gabriel is a legend, because everyone remembers his songs such as “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time.”
Peter Gabriel started out as the lead singer for the group Genesis, but he left in 1975 to pursue a solo career. And boy, has that career grown and thrived. He was born in 1950 in England and was influenced by his mother’s family, who was very musical. He actually plays a few instruments, including drums and piano, and his singing talent was noticed by one of his teachers when he was very young. In fact, his very first band, Garden Wall, was formed in 1965 when Gabriel was a mere 15 years old. From there, as they say, the rest is history.
That Unique Musical Style
Peter Gabriel has always had a musical style that sets him apart from everyone else, and most interestingly, it is a style that seems to appeal to everyone. When he was in Genesis, from 1967 to 1975, Gabriel mostly wrote songs and sang straightforward pop. Throughout the record albums the group released, Gabriel can be heard playing instruments such as the flute and oboe, a testament to his musical genius and versatility.
Gabriel was successful with the band, but eventually became disillusioned with the music business, especially after his daughter was born and he wanted to spend more time with his family. The band members didn’t always get along and in fact often disagreed about the direction they should take musically.
When he left the band in 1975, drummer Phil Collins reluctantly took the role of lead singer – but only after some 400 singers had been auditioned and then eliminated! Indeed, everyone had doubts that Genesis would survive after Gabriel’s departure, but it did in fact go on.
This left Peter Gabriel able to decide for himself which direction his music would go in, and he continued to write songs about events going on in his life and causes to which he was passionately devoted.
In Your Eyes
I first heard Peter Gabriel at a house party in Beach City, Ohio in 1996. I was working as the pool lifeguard at a summer camp and retreat called Camp Wanake. Since the kids only came for a week at a time, we got the weekends off. Typically, this time would be spent clubbing in Cleveland, sightseeing in Amish country, horse-riding or playing softball at Wanake.
There were quite a few international counselors at Wanake. I was from South Africa, Martyna was from Poland, Martin from England, there was a girl from Russia and another from Eqypt, a guy from Scotland and then finally, there was sweet Maria from Sao Paulo, Brasil. Maria was only volunteering at the camp for about two weeks.
On the next weekend, Elton, the truck driver, decided to hold a party at his place. We were pretty good friends and I arrived at his place on Saturday afternoon and starting prepping for the party. This involved guzzling down beer while chain sawing as much dead wood as possible in the bushy backyard and finally building a bonfire big enough to be visible from space. The other counselors arrived as well as a few neighborhood hooligans and the party officially started.
The party raged deep into the night and left me with two very clear memories, one dripping in sadness, the other in sheer joy. Firstly, my mate, Martin, opened up to me and told me all about the death of his dad. The love he so strongly felt for him coupled with how much he missed him made me so sad that I began to cry. Secondly, Maria arrived later in the evening and we hit it off in royal fashion. I vividly recall sitting, squashed on a patio chair, drinking some godawful mix, kissing passionately with Gabriel’s In Your Eyes blaring in the background. That song has become a huge nostalgic trigger for me in later life and I cherish it for the warm and fuzzy feeling it invokes within me.
In Your Eyes. Maria. A strong sensation of giddy, teenage infatuation.
Nostalgia score, 8/10.
More Than Just A Musician
Peter Gabriel is not only talented musically, but he is just as devoted to certain causes as he is to that music. In 1986, he began an association with Amnesty International, and he became one of the first participants in that organization’s Human Rights concerts. From 1986 to 1998, he performed in a variety of concerts for Amnesty in places that included Paris and Chile.
His devotion to humanitarian causes is extensive, and in fact, in the 1990’s he and entrepreneur Richard Branson met with South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and formed a group whose goal is to handle many different causes, including difficult global conflicts.
Other efforts include creating a nonprofit group in 2007 called WITNESS, which is a media site for human rights; lending his support for an Iranian woman who, in 2010, was scheduled to be stoned to death; and voicing his support for protesters in Hong Kong over the Lennon Wall. He has also won numerous human rights and other awards, including the Ambassador of Conscience Award in 2008, an honorary doctorate in 2015 from the University of South Australia, and a United We Care award in 2008.
Peter Gabriel is also involved in numerous political causes. Mostly involved in causes that take place in England, he has thrown his support behind several politicians, including Tony Blair and the Green Party of England. He voiced his staunch opposition to the war in Iraq and has given huge donations to the Labor Party in England. His interests and causes are always to the left of center, which I like.
In fact, in 2012 he voiced his opposition to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh using his music on his radio show, and he has shown support for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Gabriel is knowledgeable about what is going on in the world, and he uses the influence he has from his musical career to affect change whenever and wherever he can. When it comes to any type of injustice, he makes his voice heard both financially and in direct involvement in various campaigns and programs. He is not, in fact, a man who just sits by quietly while things that shouldn’t be happening go on around him.
In this way, he is much like my favouite author, George Orwell, who was also driven to stand up for the little guy by shining a light on the injustices of the world.
The Pop Culture of Today
Even with this many years in show business, Peter Gabriel hasn’t shown any signs of quitting, either on or off the stage. His music has been featured in many television shows and movies, and he was even asked to write music for the big-screen movie The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. His music and original compositions can be heard in shows and movies such as Miami Vice, the WALL-E soundtrack in 2008, Up, and Babe: Pig in the City.
In 2006, he won a Man of Peace Award from the Nobel Prize committee, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. In fact, when it comes to awards, honors, and accolades, Peter Gabriel has won them all, and he doesn’t show any signs nor interest in stopping anytime soon.
If you wondered why Peter Gabriel is a legend at the beginning of this article, you probably don’t wonder anymore. This is a man who not only produces great music but is involved in the causes that he and so many others consider important. If you’ve never bought one of his CDs, now is the time to treat yourself to one of them.
For more cool stuff about the 80’s, read 17 Cool Things From The 80’s.
Peter Gabriel Gift Ideas
There is a lot of memorabilia out there, especially on Amazon, Etsy and Ebay. Amazon is usually cheaper with more selection and so I’ve chosen them. And if you’re not super satisfied with what you’ve bought, their returns policy is really good.
With so much to choose from, where do you start? My focus has been on cool, fun and quirky items, all garnering decent ratings from well-priced sellers.
Please note that I am an Amazon Affiliate and receive a small compensation if you use my links, but it will not increase your purchase price. If you use my links, I truly appreciate it 😉