Carrying on with our series of articles regarding the Guitar as the songwriter’s tool we are arriving at one of the most interesting artists. Gary Numan is not a virtuoso, but over 10 million albums sold and a career from 1977 to the current certainly speaks to his talent and popularity.
My Friend Steve Morgan turned my head around when we were discussing Concerts and Steve had caught 2013’s “Splinter” tour. He advised me at any chance to go to a Numan show and I have always trusted his music advice. He’s never been wrong and I credit him for introducing me to Public Image Limited and The Cramps just for starters.
He set me on the Path, as Far as I knew of Gary was the song “Cars”. After “going to school” on the work of Gary Numan I’m a massive convert.
From the beginning of the 1978 EP for Tubeway Army, the Synth was not really in play. It was a guitar band emerging from the end of Punk. The signing to record Label “Beggars Banquet” was to deliver that sort of music. Upon finding the early Moog in the studio Gary had other plans.
TUBEWAY ARMY Bombers
Gary Has always been a Guitar Player. Gary Numan’s dad bought him this sunburst 1970 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe for his 15th birthday; he’s used it on stage and on every album ever since. (Note the “goof rings” around the mini-humbucker pickups that confirm his guitar’s precise vintage).
However, the discovery of the Moog Bass sound pushed him to transfer these Guitar parts over to the Synth and a whole new vision and sound became a Hurricane of reaction.
Gary Numan .:: Reinvention
He at first shocked the Record Company, Followed by the world. The Guitar still was a part of the sound but more often was the second or third place in the ever-increasing sonic exploration and Stage show. Gary would go on to buy at least one other Gibson Les Paul Custom and both Gibsons would make their appearances on stage when needed.
It’s a fascinating study to hear some of the songs stripped down to a simple acoustic and vocal. It brings into focus the craft of the writing and solidifies the notion that the man despite the presentation writes great Material.
Gary Numan- Down In The Park (Acoustic)
Gary Numan- Bleed (Acoustic)
After releasing two albums with the band, he released his debut solo album “The Pleasure Principle” in 1979, topping the UK Albums Chart. While his commercial popularity peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s with hits including “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and “Cars” (both of which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart), Numan maintains a cult following.
However, the Cult is Mighty and since “Splinter” he has kept climbing in profile for the second time in his career. 2017’s “Savage” and 2021’s “Intruder” have seen his star rise and his credit as an innovator of countless bands from his initial arrival on the world stage in the late ’70s.
He is a workaholic who has written and released 23 albums and was recently the subject of the film “Android in La La Land”.
Despite the 1981 “Farewell “ nights at a sold-out Wembley Arena. The hiatus didn’t last very long and the work in between now and then has quite possibly made him more popular now than ever.
Gary Numan (London 1981) . Everyday I Die
No matter your feelings about his polarizing past, He is a prolific and pleasant-natured artist and man. One more story of “ Young person wanting a guitar and takes over the world.”
Is it a New wave? Industrial? Techno? I don’t know. What it IS for sure is it’s Gary Numan music and it is Glorious, and the guitar has been there as the anchor the entire time.