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Born 8 March 1958 in Hammersmith as Gary Anthony James Webb and educated at Town Farm Junior School Stanwell, Ashford County Grammar School, and Brooklands Technical College. Gary had an early ambition to be an airline pilot, but did not gain any academic qualifications; however, he did go on to join the Air Training Corps as a teenager. He then briefly did various jobs . A guitar was purchased for him at an early age and he began writing songs when he was about 15 years old, and played in various bands, including Mean Street and The Lasers, before forming Tubeway Army with his uncle, Jess Lidyard, and Paul Gardiner. His initial pseudonym was "Valerian", probably in reference to the hero in French science fiction comic series Valérian and Laureline. Later he picked the name "Numan" from an advert in the "Yellow Pages" for a plumber "A. Neumann". (Mad ..wink) Subsequently he rose to prominence at the end of the 1970s as front man, writer and producer for Tubeway Army. After recording an album's worth of punk-influenced demo tapes (released in 1984 as The Plan), he was signed by Beggars Banquet Records in 1978 and quickly released two singles, "That's Too Bad" and "Bombers", neither of which charted.
A self-titled, New Wave-oriented debut album later that same year sold out its limited run and introduced Numan's fascination with dystopian science fiction and, more importantly, synthesizers. Tubeway Army's third single, the dark-themed and slow-paced "Down in the Park" (1979) also failed to chart but it would prove to be one of Numan's most enduring songs, it featured with other contemporary hits on the soundtrack for the movie Times Square. After exposure in a television advertisement for Lee Cooper jeans with the jingle "Don't be a dummy", Tubeway Army released the single "Are 'Friends' Electric?" in May 1979. The single took seven weeks before it finally reached #1 at the end of June; the parent album Replicas simultaneously achieving #1 in the album charts.
A few months later Numan found success in the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with "Cars", which peaked at #1 in the UK in 1979 and #9 in US in 1980. "Cars" and the 1979 album The Pleasure Principle were both released under the Numan moniker. A sell-out tour ('The Touring Principle') followed; the concert video it spawned is often cited as the first full-length commercial music video release. The Pleasure Principle was a rock album with no guitars; instead, Numan used synthesizers fed through guitar effects pedals to achieve a distorted, phased, metallic tone. Self-produced in a fortnight for very little money, The Pleasure Principle with its highly distinctive sound, remains one of Numan's most highly-regarded efforts to date.
Numan bewildered the music press. He was a driven, creative, angst-ridden 21-year-old loner who still lived with his parents at the peak of his success. While angry like his punk contemporaries, Numan could not relate to the specific political issues they were singing about. Numan suppressed his anger and "got really hung up with this whole thing of not feeling, being cold about everything, not letting emotions get to you, or presenting a front of not feeling". His persona was aloof, alien and androgynous. Numan was not seen to be part of the punk or New Romantic movements. During this period, Numan generated an army of fans calling themselves "Numanoids".
In 1980 Numan again topped the album charts with Telekon, this final studio album of what Numan retrospectively termed the "Machine" section of his career, saw reintroduced guitars to Numan's music and featured a wider range of synthesizers. The same year he embarked on his second major tour ("The Teletour") with an even more elaborate stage show than The Touring Principle the previous year. By this time he was weary of the pressures of fame and announced his retirement from touring with a series of sell-out concerts at Wembley Arena in April 1981. The decision to retire would be short-lived but it would have a fateful effect on his career, as Numan found the fickle pop audience quickly turned its attention to other artists.
Moving away from the pure electropop that he had made his name with, Numan then experimented with jazz, funk and ethereal, rhythmic pop. His first album after his 1981 farewell concerts was the atmospheric and experimental Dance (1981). . The album featured several distinguished guest players; Mick Karn (bass, saxophone) and Rob Dean (guitar) of Japan, Roger Mason (keyboards) of Models and Roger Taylor (drums) of Queen. However, Numan's career had begun to experience a gradual decline. Each album also saw a new "image", none of which captured the public's imagination to nearly the same extent as the lonely android of 1979. The more upbeat and danceable I, Assassin (1982) fared less well than Dance. Numan supported the album with a concert tour in America in late 1982 (where he was living as a tax exile), which were his first series of live shows since his farewell at Wembley. Warriors (1983) further developed Numan's jazz-influenced style and featured contributions from avant-garde musician Bill Nelson and saxophonist Dick Morrissey (who would play on most of Numan's albums until 1991). Warriors was the last album Numan recorded for Beggars Banquet Records, and was supported by a 40-date UK tour. His look for the album artwork and tour was a Mad Max-influenced black leather costume against a post-apocalyptic backdrop, but this latest image change was scorned by the music press despite the sell-out tour and aggressive vibrancy of his newer sound.
Now battling against the increasing public perception that he was a spent force, Numan issued a series of albums and singles on his own record label, Numa. As the decade continued, he experienced a creative malaise, trying to recapture his former chart glory with less distinguished albums. The first album released on Numa, 1984’s Berserker was also notable for being Numan's first foray into music computers/samplers, in this case the PPG Wave. Berserker moved away from the fluid, fretless sound that characterised Numan's previous three albums, featuring instead harder-edged electric bass and drum sounds. The album was also accompanied by a striking blue-and-white visual image, a tour and a live album/video, but it divided critics and fans and commercially was Numan’s least successful release to that date. This year also saw the death of Paul Gardiner, who was Numan's bassist and friend since his Tubeway Army days, from a fatal heroin overdose. Numan's next album, The Fury (1985), charted slightly higher than Berserker, and featured another new image of white suit and red bow tie. It was the last Numan album to crack the British Top 30.
Numa Records, folded after the release of Numan's Strange Charm album (1986). In addition to Numa's commercial failure, a lack of radio play (his records were removed from the BBC Radio 1 playlist) and sales had drained the fortune (estimated £4.5 million) he had amassed in the late 1970s. Numan signed to IRS Records and his final studio album of the 80s, the edgy, industrial-funk Metal Rhythm (1988) found favour with fans and scored some positive reviews in the UK music press, but it sold poorly.
In 1991, Numan ventured into film-scoring by co-composing the music for The Unborn with Michael R. Smith (the score was later released as an instrumental album in 1995, Human). After Outland (1991), another critical and commercial disappointment and his second and last studio album with IRS, Numan reactivated Numa Records, under which he would release his next two albums. However, even Numan considers his 1992 Machine + Soul, a misguided attempt at a purely commercial release recorded solely to pay off debts, a career low point. The album sold only a few thousand copies. By 1994, Numan decided to stop attempting to crack the pop market and concentrate instead on exploring more personal themes, including his vocal atheism.
His future wife Gemma encouraged him to strip away the influences of the previous years. Numan re-evaluated his career and went in a harsher, more industrial direction with his songwriting on the album Sacrifice — for the first time he played almost all the instruments himself. The move was critically well-received, as Numan's harder and darker sound emerged just as Numan-influenced bands like Nine Inch Nails were enjoying their first rush of fame. Sacrifice was the last album Numan made before shutting down Numa Records permanently. His next two albums, Exile (1997) and Pure (2000), restored his critical reputation. Numan even toured the U.S. in support of Exile, his first stateside concerts since the early 1980s.
Numan has become acknowledged and respected by his peers, with such musicians as Dave Grohl (of Foo Fighters and Nirvana), Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails), and Marilyn Manson proclaiming his work an influence and recording cover versions of old Numan hits. The band Basement Jaxx had a huge hit in 2002 with "Where's Your Head At?", which relied on a sample of Numan's "M.E." - from The Pleasure Principle - for its hook. Other musicians, and at least one comedian, who have sung Numan's praises in recent years include Beck, Grant Nicholas, Tricky, Damon Albarn & Matt Sharp, Jarvis Cocker, Queens of the Stone Age, David Bowie, Noel Fielding and Afrika Bambaataa, who spoke of the influence Numan's music had on the fledgling American DJ scene: "In the late 70s and early 80s Gary had the rhythms that DJs wanted to get hold of and people waited for his records on the dance floor." "Cars" was also featured on the soundtrack for the blockbuster 2002 videogame Grand Theft Auto: "Are Friends Electric" appeared on EA's game Need For Speed: Carbon in 2006.
In 2002, Numan enjoyed chart success once again with the single "Rip", reaching #29 in the UK chart and in 2003 with the Gary Numan vs Rico single "Crazier", which reached #13 in the UK chart. Rico also worked on the remix album Hybrid which featured reworkings of older songs in a more contemporary industrial style as well as new material. Other artists and producers who contributed on these remixes included Curve, Flood, Andy Gray, Alan Moulder, New Disease and Sulpher. 2003 also saw Numan performing the vocals on a track named "Pray For You" on the Plump DJs album Eargasm, which was well received.
In 2004 Numan took control of his own business affairs again, launching the label Mortal Records and releasing a series of live DVDs. In late 2006, Numan announced on his website that recording would begin on his new album in January 2007, with Ade Fenton co-producing. The album, Jagged, was duly released on 13 March 2006, followed by UK, European and US tours in support of the release. He sold out a fifteen-date UK tour in Spring 2008 during which he performed his 1979 number one album Replicas in full, and all the Replicas-era music including B-sides. The highly successful tour also raised Numan's profile in the media again due to the fact that it coincided with his 30th anniversary in the music business.
Numan married a member of his own fan club, Gemma O'Neill. In 2003, after some pregnancy difficulties, the couple had their first child, Raven. In 2005 they had a second daughter, Persia. In 2007 the couple had their third child, Echo. He published his autobiography, Praying to the Aliens, in 1997
A1 Me! I Disconnect From You 3:22
A2 Are 'Friends' Electric? 5:24
A3 The Machman 3:07
A4 Praying To The Aliens 3:59
A5 Down In The Park 4:26
B1 You Are In My Vision 3:14
B2 Replicas 5:00
B3 It Must Have Been Years 4:01
B4 When The Machines Rock 3:14
B5 I Nearly Married A Human 6:31
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Numan's "Electric" leap to fame meant he had to bring out an album to keep himself current and The Pleasure Principle was released in September 1979. Unlike 'Replicas' which soundwise has a more earthy, warmth to it, despite the use of synthesizers. The Pleasure Principle gets the cold clinical feel of the synthesizer across very well, it paints a picture of the alientation of dystopias. Mix that in with some teen angst, which fitted in with well with the angst of your mum not letting you be a punk, but would at least let you wear black and little eyeliner....
The Pleasure Principle ( 79.....97mb)
A1 Airlane 3:17
A2 Metal 3:31
A3 Complex 3:11
A4 Films 4:08
A5 M.E. 5:34
B1 Tracks 2:51
B2 Observer 2:52
B3 Conversation 7:35
B4 Cars 3:58
B5 Engineers 3:59
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