Bob Ezrin said Peter Gabriel had struggled through recording sessions for his debut solo album – but that the experience was easy for the producer himself.

Ezrin jumped at the chance to be involved when the former Genesis singer started work in the fall of 1976, after having seen the band open for Lou Reed. He later told his wife: “I wanna meet that kid with the flower on his head!”

“It was important to him that he step out and be recognized as an individual talent,” Ezrin told Classic Rock. “Peter is a larger-than-life personality. Even though he presents in a fairly gentle, humble way, there’s so much fire, energy and creativity. There are many different personalities in there that he has to be able to let out. The only way for him to do that without constraint was to leave Genesis and do it on his own.”

The producer’s solution was to assemble a band of equally strong personalities, including Steve Hunter, Dick Wagner and Tony Levin. “They were like the Dirty Dozen – each of them was a psychopathic expert in their particular field of destruction,” Ezrin said. “It felt like letting the crack criminals out of prison and putting them together in a gang for the Big Job. Peter said: ‘Well, could I at least have one Brit?’ So he brought in [Robert] Fripp, which was great. Fripp was a totally buttoned-down English gentleman with these American wild men, yet they all got on very well. Peter stayed with many of them for years afterwards.”

Ezrin said from his point of view, "the sessions were easy. From Peter’s, I think not so much. He wasn’t used to being with someone so North American and … aggressive as me. I came from a tradition of having to get things done quickly, on time and on budget, making decisions, sticking to them. Peter was at a stage where he wanted to be more experimental. He’s said that he maybe would’ve been happier if he’d been allowed more time and latitude to try a few other things.”

Nevertheless, the producer recalled a “fabulous rapport” in the studio with “no fighting whatsoever." "With us he developed a new confidence and swagger," Ezrin noted. "Prior to that he was a bit shy. He had to learn to shout to get through to us. There were just so many characters in their own right involved.”

 

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