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Peter Gabriel backstage at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony

Peter Gabriel backstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in New York City, on April 10, 2014
Peter Gabriel backstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in New York City, on April 10, 2014
Carla Hay

The 29th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony took place on April 10, 2014, at Barclays Center in New York City's Brooklyn borough. HBO will premiere an edited version of the show on May 31, 2014. In 2014, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees in 2014 were Kiss, Nirvana, Cat Stevens, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Linda Ronstadt, Peter Gabriel, the E Street Band, Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham. Here is what this artist had to say backstage during a brief press conference in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame press room.


[NOTE: Before Gabriel entered the press room, the assembled journalists were told by a publicist that he was only going to answer one question. Gabriel performed three of his songs at the ceremony: “Digging in the Dirt” “Washing of the Water" (with Coldplay's Chris Martin, who presented the induction speech for Gabriel) and "In Your Eyes" (with Youssou N'Dour).]

You have two inductions in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: as the original lead singer Genesis and as a solo artist. Why do you think you’re the only one from Genesis who’s gotten an induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist?

Because I’m here. I just think I’m very fortunate. I’ve worked with extraordinary people, great musicians and record labels and singers like Youssou N'Dour — just wonderful talent. I think it’s kind of crazy to put “rock and roll” as a label. I think there’s only two kinds of music: good and bad. That’s what I subscribe to.

Here is what Gabriel said in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech:

"Chris [Martin] has been working as a stand-up comic. Well, thank you so much for those kind words. It means a great deal that you’re doing this. Thank you. He’s a great songwriter.

"I also wanted to acknowledge a much-appreciated, many-times nominated, but not-yet inducted musician that I had up onstage with me, Leo Nocentelli from the Meters. So I saved up all my pocket money to buy my first beaten-up old tom-tom. I think it was about £7, it cost me.

"And to hold this thing in my hands was the key to another world, and I had no idea then that it might lead me here. I never actually made it as a drummer. I was full of enthusiasm, but not a whole lot of talent. But I snuck in here anyway.

"So I’m saying to all those people now at the start of that journey, that if you’re exploring making music and looking at us old-timers getting our decorations, I say two things: Dream big and let your imagination guide you, even if you end up dressing up as a flower or a sexually transmitted disease. They may think it’s a little strange. They may laugh at you, but just do it.

"Secondly, surround yourself with brilliance — the brilliance of who you love being around and the brilliance of their talent. I’ve worked with so many amazing people through these years, and you can see from the musicians I have on the stage with me, I’m surrounded by great — and have always been — by great musicians, including some of the world’s greatest drummers which, as an aspiring drummer, has been a real thrill.

"But particularly from the beginning of my solo work, a man who sadly couldn’t be here tonight but has been deputized by the legendary Pino Palladino, but Tony Levin. I wanted to mention. David Rhodes, who’s been with me in the album process for so long, too, on guitar. You’ve got the amazing Manu Katche and David Sancious here tonight. And we have a wonderful vocalist, Jennie Abrahamson, who’s been touring with me.

"I also have had had the great fortune to work with extraordinary engineers and producers, because they can make you sound good, and they give you a good up-the-backside when you need it, and make sure they squeeze as much juice out of you as you can get. I’ve got an extraordinary, dedicated and loyal group of people who represent me and have worked with me for many years in the management team: agents and record company folk and all the many talented folk that it takes to put a tour together. We have had for years and years and extraordinary crew who will do anything to get our show up and running, and whatever it takes. So, to all those people, I definitely wouldn’t be here without all of you working hard, and I really appreciate it.

"But, in the end, the core of what you are and where you are is where your heart is, and those who you love and those who love you. So I want to thank especially my dad for teaching me about the power of ideas, imagination and science; my mum, who taught me about music and compassion; my amazing kids, two of whom are here tonight — the other two are in the business of having a baby, it’s grandchildren for me — but they inspire me to make me very proud. And now I have two grandchildren. And most of all, the person who has to suffer most for the life that I’ve chosen, my incredible wife, Meabh, who’s given me an extraordinary life. I love you so much.

"Watch out for music. It should come with a health warning. It can be dangerous. It can make you feel so alive, so connected to the people around you, and connected to what you really are inside. And it can make you think that the world should, and could, be a much better place. And just occasionally, it can make you very, very happy. Thank you so much. It means a great deal. Thank you."

For more info: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website


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