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Biographie de Peter Hammill
Source / Auteur : Wikipedia Date : 14/08/2006 Nb consultation : 8833
Peter Joseph Andrew Hammill (born 5 November 1948) is an English singer-songwriter, and a founder member of progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. Most noted for his vocal abilities, his main instruments are guitar and piano. He also acts as a record producer for his own recordings, and occasionally for other artists.
Peter Hammill was born in Ealing, west London, and moved with his family to Derby when he was 12. He attended Beaumont College, Old Windsor, and Manchester University, where he studied Liberal Studies in Science.
Hammill's solo career began with Fool's Mate (1971), while Van der Graaf Generator were still active. To some extent it is difficult to separate Hammill's solo work during the 1970s from his work with the band, as he tended to be credited as the sole songwriter on the majority of the songs included on the band's albums, whilst conversely many of his "solo" albums feature all the members of Van der Graaf Generator playing on the recordings – the difference between the two scenarios seemed primarily to be who was paying for the sessions. In general, however, solo Hammill is concerned with more personal matters, while the band's songs deal with broader themes. His earlier work was largely existential in nature and many of his solo album lyrics are literary, poetic and amongst the most sensitive and intelligent and complex expressions of angst and a search for meaning in the history of music. Indeed, his work ranges from short simple riff-based songs to highly complex lengthy pieces. Mainly because of the strangeness of his music, his refusal to make anything resembling middle-of-the-road music, and the general absence of any smooth or glamorous sounds in his music, there is much debate amongst his admirers whether Hammill is to be considered a part of the progressive rock scene. It appears to be very difficult to categorize his music. In many interviews Hammill has stated that he does not want to be put in the progressive rock music label, or any music label at all.
Hammill recorded a series of diverse albums during Van der Graaf Generator's three year hiatus of 1972–1974. Among these, Nadir's Big Chance (1975) is notable for its anticipation of punk rock. Hammill was explicitly cited as an influence by Johnny Rotten in a 1977 radio interview. Hammill's influence can also be found in early Marillion albums; his Fool's Mate and Over albums are found on the bedroom scene of Fugazi, and much of the vocal delivery of Fish stems from Hammill's influence. Lead singer of the Associates Billy Mackenzie is also influenced by Hammill's vocal style.
Hammill's solo career resumed in earnest after the final demise of Van der Graaf Generator in 1978, and has continued to the present day. Many different styles of music appear in his work, among them avant garde electronic experiments (Loops and Reels; Unsung; Spur of the Moment), opera (The Fall of the House of Usher); solo keyboard accompaniment (And Close as This); solo guitar accompaniment (Clutch); and band recordings (Enter K).
Despite the complexity of his work, Hammill's output is prolific, typically with new albums once or twice a year. His catalogue varies between artful complexity in the late 1960s and early 1970s; raw, energetic new wave in the late 1970s and early 1980s; mature, expansive songform in the late 1980s and early 1990s; and slow, melancholic balladry in the late 1990s and 2000s. There are numerous exceptions to all of these phases, illustrating the difficulty of categorising Hammill's work.
Hammill's early records, like the VdGG albums, were released on Charisma Records. He parted company with them after pH7 (1979), and then released albums on a number of small labels. A Black Box came out on S-Type, a label run by Hammill and his manager Gail Colson. Enter K and Patience appeared on Naive, Skin and The Margin on Foundry and In A Foreign Town, Out of Water and Room Temperature on Enigma. In 1992 he formed his own label, Fie!, on which all his albums since Fireships have been released. The label's logo is the Greek letter phi (Ö), a pun on PH-I.
Hammill survived a heart attack in December 2003. He was awarded the prestigious Italian Tenco Prize for songwriting at the end of 2004.
During 2004, Van der Graaf Generator (including Hammill) reformed, writing and recording new material released in April 2005 as the double CD Present.
He is currently writing and recording new material that will be released as a solo album later this year.
Many consider Hammill's voice to be the most distinctive element of his music. As a former Jesuit chorister, his delivery is invariably middle class English (rather than Americanised), and ranges in tone from peacefully celestial to screaming rants (which are nevertheless highly controlled). Singing in registers from baritone to high falsetto, he growls, croons, shrieks and shouts in ways that have drawn comparison with the guitar playing of Jimi Hendrix.
Hammill's lyrics are another distinctive feature of his work. He has visited a number of recurring themes including: love; human relationships; ageing and death; human follies; politics; self-awareness and introspection; religion; and current affairs. He expresses these themes with a verbal dexterity that is rare in rock. The science fiction themes of Van der Graaf Generator's lyrics are mostly absent in his later work. In 1974 Hammill published a book, Killers, Angels, Refugees (Charisma Books, London), a collection of lyrics, poems and short stories. This was later reissued by Hammill himself (Sofa Sound, Bath) and was followed by a sequel Mirrors, Dreams, Miracles (1982).