Peter Gabriel, who died last month at age 75, was the first and most prolific writer of contemporary music, and one of the most influential figures in the genre.
His music is now the most beloved in the world, but the man whose work inspired artists from Prince to Prince William to Beck, was also the person who first created the modern concept of the pop artist.
Gabriel was born in San Francisco on February 9, 1919, and he grew up in a privileged environment.
His parents worked in the publishing industry and were the only two members of the family to attend college, and so his upbringing was shaped by the culture wars.
When Gabriel was 12, he moved with his family to Los Angeles to attend Cal State Fullerton, where he studied drama.
Gabriel had a hard time fitting in and was often bullied by classmates.
But as he matured, Gabriel became a talented singer-songwriter, and by the time he was 22, he had won a Tony Award for best new song for his hit “I Don’t Want To Go.”
It was during that period of high school and early college when Gabriel started making his first music recordings.
At the time, recording studios weren’t the norm in L.A. and recording studios were a rarity.
“You didn’t get to see the stars and the people that you wanted to see, and you didn’t have that opportunity to meet people,” Gabriel told the New York Times.
Gabriel went on to become a prolific writer and recording artist, which is why, in 1993, he was hired to compose the music for Prince’s third album, “Purple Rain.”
It took him two years to record the songs, and in 1994, he released the album, which became the first pop album by an artist not named Prince.
Gabriel’s breakthrough came in 1995 with the song “Purpose,” which he composed for Prince.
But by 1996, he found himself in a tough spot.
He was working on a new album with producer Rick Rubin, and while Rubin was working with Prince, Gabriel had been struggling with depression.
“I was starting to get into trouble with the police and everything,” Gabriel recalled to the Times.
“We were in a bad place.
I was starting, like, to lose my mind.”
Gabriel eventually came to the conclusion that he had a serious drug problem, and after rehabbing, he became clean and sober.
“He went through his own recovery,” Rubin said.
“That’s what really helped him.
He became more focused on the songs and writing.”
Gabriel was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1998, and began to take medication for it in 1999.
In 2010, Gabriel released his first solo album, titled “I Can’t Let You Go.”
Since then, he has released more than a dozen studio albums and sold more than two million albums.
The success of his music, however, did not come easily for Gabriel.
In 2014, he sued Warner Bros., alleging that the company had failed to pay royalties to him.
In August 2015, a federal judge sided with Gabriel, saying the company failed to compensate him for his work.
Gabriel has since been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and heart disease, and died at age 74.
“It’s kind of a miracle he could keep going for so long,” said Mark Harris, a music critic who has covered Gabriel’s music for more than 30 years.
“The fact that he managed to do so is something we should celebrate, but it’s also a reminder of the fact that it’s not always easy to find people who can do it for you.”