Peter Gabriel emerged from the prog-rock band Genesis in 1975 to become a highly influential musician, producer and force for social change. His songs range from the tongue-in-cheek Sledgehammer to one of the first pop songs to address apartheid, Biko.
Gabriel co-founded Genesis in 1967 while in art school; serving as the group's lead singer and composer He fronted the band during what many fans consider to be the group's artistic prime, appearing on albums including Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Genesis Live, Selling England by the Pound, and Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. With Gabriel as instigator, the band became progressively theatrical, with the singer donning costumes and makeup and acting out the songs in live performance.
In May 1975, Gabriel created something of an uproar among the band's fans when he announced his departure to embark on a solo career (the band got even, promoting drummer Phil Collins to the lead vocal spotlight, and enjoying great success in their own right). His first album, Peter Gabriel, featured the hit single Solsbury Hill. Perhaps superstitiously, Gabriel proceeded to title his three subsequent albums Peter Gabriel, as well; it was the third that included Biko and the anti-jingoist Games Without Frontiers. His 1982 album Security included the hit Shock the Monkey, and Sledgehammer appeared on 1986's Grammy-winning So. Along the way, Gabriel became an innovator in music video production, with Sledgehammer earning the highest number of MTV Video Awards to date, and topping Rolling Stone's top 100 videos of all time.
In 1980, Gabriel - whose musical influences had always ranged far outside European and American pop - formed World of Music, Art and Dance. Better known by the WOMAD acronym, the series of international festivals brings together music, art and dance from wide-ranging sources around the world.
Following the success of Biko, Gabriel became involved in the Nelson Mandela concerts in Wembley, and worked with fellow performers including Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N'Dour on Amnesty International's "Human Rights Now" tour. In collaboration with the Reebok Foundation, Gabriel formed the "Witness" program, equipping human rights activists around with world with video cameras and other tools.
Gabriel's score to Martin Scorsese's 1989 film The Last Temptation of Christ was the basis of his album, Passion. Other Gabriel scores included Birdy (1985)and The Rabbit-Proof Fence(2003).
More recently, Gabriel has formed his own PREcords label. In 2003, he released a series of albums from his then-current tour (http://www.themusic.com), and in 2004 was presented with The Music Industry Trust's Award, an honor he now shares with George Martin, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, John Barry, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and label executives Ahmet Ertegun and Rob Dickins.