We already know Peter Gabriel has some of the greatest stage moves in rock history. But he’s more than just a lovably awkward dancer and channel-er of weird gestures — he’s also a twisted genius in the costume department. During the classic era of Genesis (1970-1974), Gabriel’s on-stage costumes became the stuff of legend: from the Sexy Fox outfit he donned during “The Musical Box” or the mythical flower head he wore during “Supper’s Ready.” (While he’s continued to use adventurous stage visuals during his solo career, he’s mostly kept the costumes to a minimum.)
“It’s getting better in your wardrobe,” Gabriel once sang. And how it has. With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at the maestro’s 10 Best Costumes.
10) “Shock the Monkey” Scary Face
If you really want to get obscure this Halloween (and creep out all of your friends), try donning the tribal face paint Gabriel used in his terrifying video for “Shock the Monkey.” Even Gabriel fans might have a tough time figuring out your character, but you’ll definitely turn a lot of heads.
Britannia is a character Gabriel channeled during live performances of the Genesis classic “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight.” It’s one of his most iconic stage moments — dressed as if he stumbled out of the closet of an ancient knight. If you dress up as Britannia, though, you may want to wear a “Peter Gabriel” name-tag or something — just in case.
8) The Creepy Geezer
Ahh, yes, the Creepy Geezer — the kinda guy whose house you probably want to avoid during a Trick or Treat romp. As I reflected in that previously mentioned list, Gabriel transformed into this creepy old man during live performances of “The Musical Box,” air-groping and sticking out his tongue a lot. (Bonus costume points if you actually do all the creepy gestures.)
Totally doable costume: multi-colored cape (They make those, right?), bat wings attached to your head, and copious amounts of white face paint. Gabriel became Mr. Batwings during live performances of the explosive, rhythmically challenging Genesis anthem “Watcher of the Skies.”
6) The Slipperman
The Slipperman is probably the scariest costume on this list. During Genesis’ Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour (Gabriel’s unofficial prog swan-song), our hero pulled out all the costume stops, particularly during “The Colony of Slippermen,” in which he dressed as one of the titular monsters (with its inflatable genitals and hideous, lump-covered exterior). Wearing The Slipperman costume is a surefire way to get kicked out of your own Halloween party.
It’s not one of Gabriel’s most easily recognizable characters, but it’s certainly one of his most terrifying: Magog (with his prism-shaped head and black cape) was featured during the bone-rattling “666” climax of the 25-minute Genesis behemoth “Supper’s Ready.”
4) The “Sledgehammer” Cloud Face
Want a friendlier, less expensive approach? How about Mr. Cloud Face, a legendary freeze-frame from Gabriel’s 1986 solo smash “Sledgehammer”? (Bonus costume points if you walk around all night with buckteeth.)
Rael is a unique character in that he appeared during both Genesis shows (during the Lamb tour) and Gabriel’s earliest solo shows (during performances of that album’s propulsive title-track). The image below is taken from a solo performance, and it’s the cheaper option: buzz-cut, white shirt, leather jacket, too-tight white pants. You could also go with the original Genesis version, which is a bit more involved.
2) The Flower
Here’s one Gabriel costume that won’t scare local children! The Flower, of course, appeared during live performances of “Supper’s Ready” (during the bouncy “Willow Farm” section). Don’t worry about the heady lyrical connection (the Greek myth of Narcissus); just enjoy the silliness.
1) The Sexy Fox
The legend that started it all. Gabriel first tried this costume in 1972, borrowing one of his then-wife’s dresses and a fox head prop. Without telling his bandmates, he crashed the stage (to a soundtrack of shocked audience cries) during a performance of “The Musical Box.” If you wear this costume, you’ll likely experience the same response.
What Gabriel costumes did we miss? And what Gabriel character is your favorite? Sound off in the comments section.