Peter Gabriel in a nuthouse ?

Did Peter Gabriel ever receive treatment in a mental hospital? The story that I have been told is that Gabriel went ‘a little mad’ during the end of his tenure with Genesis, and had to leave the band in order to recuperate mentally and/or emotionally. The song “Solsbury Hill” is ostensibly a reference to the facility from which he was released.
This story has been relayed to me by a friend of mine who swears it is the truth, although has not been able to provide me with any evidence of it, and who himself can’t remember how he came to believe this. I am very skeptical, as none of the online biographies of Gabriel or Genesis mention this, and neither does the VH1 Behind The Music episode of Genesis. I figure that if Gabriel was once even near a mental hospital, such a salacious detail would receive front and center treatment on such a tabloidesque program.
So, whats the dilly? Was Peter Gabriel ever in a mental hospital?

I don’t buy it. Peter Gabriel has it more together than anyone else in rock-‘n’-roll. He can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned.

Somebody must have gotten him mixed up with Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd.

I don’t remember. I don’t recall. I’ve got no memory of anything at all.


I’m not sure if he was actually committed or not, but he clearly underwent quite a lot of therapy. You can get that just from his songs.

But I’ll say that I vaguely remember that he was checked into some facility (whether mental or substance abuse) in the early 80’s. I could be wrong.

“Lead a Normal Life” from the so-called Melt Album was about the inmate of a funny farm.

But if that is evidence of Peter’s insanity, then there is also evidence for his being a gambling widower, a Puerto Rican street punk, a pirate-radio midget in a swamp, an African freedom fighter, an assassin, and the old-man ghost of a murdered child kept imprisoned in a musical box.

These are supposedly the meanings of PG’s songs. Bit vague on the subject of Solsbury Hill though…

I’ve heard this one before and remember reading that it was untrue (though, as Chimera said, he has gone through quite a bit of therapy). However, as of right now I can’t find anything at all on the subject – even checked on snopes.

“Shock The Monkey” could be interpreted as being about electroshock therapy, I suppose.

To my knowledge, Shock the Monkey is about animal rights, with part of the song from the monkey’s perspective - “something’s knocked off the trees - and now I’m on my knees”

Gabriel has been through a lot of therapy, as mentioned before. The album Us (that’s the one with “Digging in the Dirt”, right?) is mostly about his experiences in therapy.

Beyond that, I have not heard that he has spent time institutionalized…

Eagle flew out of the night…?
Changing water into wine…?
Grab your things, they’ve come to take you home…?

There’s nothing psychiatric about this.

Oh, you must have been referencing

“Friends would think I was a nut”

Dude, that song was about PG having a mystical experience. He voiced the familiar apprehension felt by people who undergo such experiences that their friends would not understand what it’s like (you can’t understand it if you haven’t experienced it yourself), so they would think he was “nuts.” That does not translate into “certifiably commitable” or anything. It just implies a certain unease at fitting in with ordinary social conventions, being a bit eccentric.

You would think if anybody was going to cite a PG song about being institutionalized, it would be “Lead a Normal Life” which I mentioned above. Hmph. Whoever is spreading these rumors apparently doesn’t know PG’s œuvre. Fool doesn’t even know enough to spread a stupid rumor.

This on Shock the Monkey, from the link I posted above:

From “Rock Lives / Profiles and Interviews” by Timothy White (1990)
Earlier, Gabriel had stated that the song was not about shock therapy but rather “just a love song, although it’s not really seen as that. It refers to jealousy as a trigger for an animal nature to surface.”

Irritatingly though, the sentence is in the past perfect, and out of context, so for all we know the previous sentence could have contained a later version of the ‘official line.’

Thanks to all for the input…but I dont want this to get too off topic. Rather than parsing song lyrics, where can one go to get concrete biographical information on an artist? I too have checked AMG, and the bio mentioned nothing about a stay in a mental hospital.

This could, of course, go on forever simply because you can’t prove a negative. Where could you expect to find the information that Peter Gabriel was NOT in a mental hospital?

Gabriel himself claims, in two instances, that he left Genesis in order to spend more time with his wife and new baby. However, in neither instance did he claim that as the only reason. The closest admission he makes to a ‘mental’ reason for leaving the band is that at the conclusion of the tour for Lamb Lies Down, he was exhausted. There is a big difference from being exhausted after a rock tour, and having to spend time in psychiatric institution.

If it was true, wouldn’t a man like Gabriel, who bares his soul with each successive record, be comfortable sharing the information with biographers and television producers? This story seems more and more like a stupid rumor the more I think about it… and yet… you never know…

Yes, but he didn’t quit the band because of that exhaustion. He had already told the rest of Genesis six months before his final gig with them that he was going to quit. So it’s not like his leaving the band had anything to do with any kind of breakdown. (Info from Armando Gallo’s book Genesis: I Know What I Like.)