Peter Gabriel, as photographed by
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Peter Brian Gabriel (born , , in , , ) is an . He first came to fame as the lead vocalist, flautist, and percussionist of the group , went on to a successful solo career, and more recently has focused on producing and promoting and pioneering digital distribution methods for music. In addition he has been involved in various humanitarian efforts.
Gabriel founded in while a pupil at with bandmates , , , and drummer . The name of the band was suggested by fellow Charterhouse School alumnus, the pop music impresario who produced their first album 'From Genesis to Revelation'.
A lover of , Gabriel was influenced by many different sources in his way of singing, mainly , of and . He also played the flute on Stevens' Mona Bone Jakon album in .
quickly became one of the most talked-about bands in the UK and eventually Italy, Belgium, Germany and other European countries, largely due to Gabriel's flamboyant stage presence, which involved numerous bizarre costume changes and comical, dreamlike stories told as the introduction to each song. The concerts made extensive use of with the normal stage lighting subdued or off. A backdrop of fluorescing white sheets and a comparatively sparse stage made the band into a set of silhouettes, with Gabriel's fluorescent costume and makeup the only other sources of light.
Among Gabriel's many famous costumes (which he developed partly as way of overcoming his stage fright) were "The Flower" (worn for "Supper's Ready", from Foxtrot), "Magog" (also worn for "Supper's Ready", from Foxtrot), "Britannia" (worn for "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight," from Selling England by the Pound), "The Old Man" (worn for "The Musical Box", from Nursery Cryme), "Rael" (worn throughout most of the performance of the album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway), and "The Slipperman" (worn during "The Colony of Slippermen," also from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway).
During "The Knife," a popular live song from the Trespass album, Gabriel would perform a stunt that, two decades later, became a fixture of hard-rock and heavy-metal concerts: . On one occasion, he broke a leg leaping into the crowd - but managed to climb back up onto the stage and finish the performance. Gabriel occasionally would fall backwards into crowds during his solo shows (notably shown in his PoV during the song "Lay Your Hands On Me") and allow the crowd to pass him around, but stopped crowd surfing as he became older.
Backing vocals in during Gabriel's tenure in the band were usually handled by bassist/guitarist , keyboardist/guitarist , and (most prominently) drummer , who (after a long search for a replacement) eventually became 's lead singer after Gabriel left the band in .
Gabriel's departure from (which stunned fans of the group and left many commentators wondering if they could survive) was the result of a number of factors. His stature as the lead singer of the band, and the added attention garnered by his flamboyant stage personae, led to tensions within the band. Genesis had always operated more or less as a collective, and Gabriel's burgeoning public profile led to fears within the group that he was being unfairly singled out as the creative hub of the group. Tensions were heightened by the ambitious album and tour of the concept work , a Gabriel-created concept piece which saw him taking on the lion's share of the lyric writing. During the writing and recording of , Gabriel was approached by director , allegedly because Friedkin had found Gabriel's short story in the liner notes to Genesis Live interesting. Gabriel's interest in a film project with Friedkin was another contributing factor in his decision to leave Genesis. The decision to quit the band was made before the tour supporting , but Gabriel stayed with the band until the conclusion of that tour.