Peter Gabriel – An eccentric, eclectic, and also mainstream presence in pop music

Peter Gabriel is a highly respected British pop musician, composer and vocalist who left the progressive rock group Genesis¹ in 1975 to pursue a solo career. Gabriel is known for his eclectic and experimental approach to music, and has incorporated a wide range of styles and influences into his work, including rock, pop, world music, and electronic music.

Peter Gabriel (seated) with Genesis in 1972 | Google Image Search

After leaving Genesis, Gabriel’s first four solo albums were simply entitled Peter Gabriel, and sold reasonably well with sleeper hits like “Solsbury Hill” and “Games Without Frontiers.”

Gabriel refused to title any of his first four solo albums, which were all labelled Peter Gabriel using the same typeface, but which featured different cover designs (by Hipgnosis); these designs are also notable for the fact that Gabriel’s face is wholly or partially obscured in some way. They are usually differentiated by number in order of release (I, II, III, IV), or by sleeve design, with the first three solo albums often referred to as Car, Scratch and Melt respectively, in reference to their cover artwork. His fourth solo album, also called Peter Gabriel, was titled Security in the U.S. at the behest of Geffen Records.²

The remainder of Genesis – with drummer Phil Collins taking up lead vocals – began to produce more mainstream (dumbed down?) singles appealing to the Top 40 crowd. These tunes were regarded by some Gabriel fans as inferior to those released when Gabriel was still at the helm of Genesis. Once, however, I met up with a die-hard Genesis fan who became quite upset when I suggested that Genesis after Gabriel wasn’t nearly as good as Genesis with Gabriel.

Some people take their musical preferences very seriously!

Gabriel continued his solo career through the 1980s, enjoying increased commercial success with hits like “Shock the Monkey” and “Sledgehammer.” These tunes were accessible but not entirely ‘common’ if you’ll pardon the expression. Sometimes artists can produce hits that appeal to a wide range of people without comprising originality, arguably the true mark of genius.

In October 2011 Gabriel released an album called New Blood, which is an orchestral remix of popular songs from his glory days. Since then he has released four compilation albums, a familiar trend with classic rockers (I mean, how many times did David Bowie repackage himself and add some unreleased rarities?).

Also known for his social and political activism, Gabriel has used his music as a platform to promote various causes, including human rights and environmentalism. His surname “Gabriel” takes after the archangel who, along with Michael and Raphael are found in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

He was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

¹ The Hebrew word Genesis means “In the Beginning” and is the name of the first book of the Bible.

² – 2011 entry

YouTube videos – Selling England By the Pound did very well in the Canadian charts and in keeping with my countrymen and women, it’s by far my favorite album involving Peter Gabriel. (Although the single “Solsbury Hill” can still hit me with a serious case of goosebumps).

This has been augmented with “Assistant” (2022). In OpenAI. [Online]. Available:


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