Happy 70th Birthday Peter Gabriel: 7 Memorable Music Videos

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Peter Gabriel was not only a pioneer of prog-rock and new wave, but also a trailblazer on the visual side of music. From his early days with Genesis in the first half of the 1970s, Gabriel exhibited a flair for the theatric that would translate perfectly to the music video-driven world of the MTV era in the 1980s and early 1990s. He was truly a visionary master of the music video art form.

Today (February 13, 2020) marks Peter Gabriel’s 70th birthday. To celebrate the milestone, JamBase takes look at seven of Gabriel’s most memorable music videos.

Sledgehammer

Nowhere is Peter’s prowess in making music videos more evident than on the visual for “Sledgehammer,” from Gabriel’s 1986 album So. But he had a lot of help from frequent collaborator and director Stephen R. Johnson as well as the skilled and innovative animators from the Brothers Quay and Aardman Animations who added the video’s iconic claymation and stop motion animation. Gabriel, however, put in the work too. He reportedly had to lay underneath a sheet of glass for 16 hours while the animators took frame by frame shots. But the hard work paid off. The video took home a whopping nine MTV Video Music Awards in 1987, the most ever won by a single video.

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Big Time

Gabriel took a similar approach on “Big Time,” another single from So. While the video — also directed by Johnson — uses claymation like “Sledgehammer,” it also utilizes strata cut animation and features artwork from renowned artist Wayne White.

Steam

Gabriel would team up with Johnson once again on the video for “Steam,” from Gabriel’s 1992 album Us. But instead of stop motion, the video features the burgeoning (at the time) technology of digital imagery.

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Shock The Monkey

The video for “Shock The Monkey” off of 1982’s Peter Gabriel IV saw Gabriel and director Brian Grant exploring film-noir-like tropes as well as the animalistic duality of human nature, which is slightly unsettling. The video played in heavy rotation in the early days of MTV.

I Don’t Remember

Speaking of unsettling, the visual for “I Don’t Remember” from 1980’s Peter Gabriel III (also known as “Melt”) is pretty creepy, which is what makes it so memorable. The video captures well the fear that comes with a decaying mind. For “I Don’t Remember,” Gabriel worked with British director Marcello Anciano.

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Kiss That Frog

From Us, the video for “Kiss That Frog” really showcases how on the cutting edge Gabriel always was in both music and film. Like the video for “Steam,” “Kiss That Frog” utilizes digital technology and was directed by special effects pioneer Brett Leonard who also helmed the groundbreaking digital effects-laden films The Lawnmower Man and Virtuosity.

Digging In The Dirt

The visual for “Digging In The Dirt” from Us saw Gabriel returning to his stop motion bread and butter but working with a different director, John Dower. The filming of the video once again demanded that Gabriel put in long hours holding absolutely still. But once again the hard work paid off. The video for “Digging In The Dirt” took home a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video at the 1993 awards.

Tour Dates for Peter Gabriel