He was a
drummer, percussionist, pianist, arranger and composer born in Arbroath, Scotland, into a family where his father was a
saxophone player who performed with the Marine Band and owned a music shop.
When he was a
school he won medals in music and he went on to gain a Bachelor of Music
degree from his further studies at Edinburgh University.
He followed that by going to London and entering the Royal Academy as a composition and percussion
student. He gained several
awards for his compositions and his orchestral work Xumba-Atu
won the Royal Philharmonic Award in 1970.
graduation he worked in collaboration as a composer and performer with Stomu Yamash’ta who was
a Japanese percussionist.
Around that time he established the experimental group called Suntreader and was a member of the jazz-rock group
Brand X and Come to the Edge.
sought after as a composer for Shakespearean productions, the BBC and the
Munich Opera Orchestra, for whom he wrote many commissioned works. His works included three symphonies,
chamber and choral works, piano pieces and electronic “sonic
At the same
time his talents as a percussionist were also being called on by many of
the top artists of the day.
This saw him becoming a first choice session musician on many
recordings and in 1977 Billboard magazine
ranked No. 4 in the world’s jazz and rock percussionists.
career he worked with numerous artists and composers and a few are Colin Blunstone, Brand X, Phil Collins, Elvis Costello, The
Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Yvonne Elliman,
Marianne Faithfull, Genesis, Gordon
Giltrap. Peter Hammill,
Murray Head, The Kane Gang, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, John Martyn,
Sally Oldfield, Graham Parker, The Upsetters, The Walker Brothers and John Williams among
albums he featured on as a musician, arranger or composer, including five
that reached gold status, are too many to mention but a select few include
his own The Music of Stars and Desert Dances as well as Song
of Seven by John Anderson, Moving
Home by Rod Argent, Hounds of
Love by Kate Bush, Caravan
&The New Symphonia by Caravan, Another Time, Another Place by Bryan
Ferry, Tango in the Night by
Fleetwood Mac, Peter Gabriel (3)
by Peter Gabriel, Rock & Soul
by Daryl Hall & John Oates, North
of a Miracle by Nick Heyward, Classic Rock, Vol. 5: Rock Symphonies
by the London Symphony Orchestra, Back
to the Egg by Paul McCartney & Wings, Ommadawn by Mike Oldfield, Hooked
on Classics by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Small Creep’s Day by Mike Rutherford, Zin Zin by Suntreader,
It’s My Life by Talk Talk and Welcome
to the Cruise by Judie Tzuke.
his home and a recording studio in the remote Scottish location of Balchrick in Sutherland where he continued to compose,
often using Scotland’s ancient pictish
culture and symbolism as an influence.
Alongside that he worked with the Japanese soprano Natsuko Minegishi and The Klang
In the field
of musical education he worked as an Associate Professor at Trinity College, London where he taught piano.
In April 2010
he passed away at his home in Balchrick when he
was 62 years old.
Peter Gabriel Recordings
Games Without Frontiers (Peter
(Charisma CB 354)(UK45)