The Rise, Fall & Rise Again of Gary Numan (Part 1)

I’ve been listening to Gary Numan songs for more than 40 years. While there are artists who I loved in my youth whose music now grates like fingernails down a chalkboard, Gary Numan‘s music has stood the test of time.

I remember around the age of 15 thinking to myself about future happiness and what that might look like. I pictured myself behind the wheel of my own car, hair blowing in the wind like some type of movie star (Jerry Lewis, Charles Bronson or Don Knotts – take your giggle-worthy pick!) careering down the highway with Gary Numan‘s song CARS pouring out of the CD player.

Now if I wind down the window of my Mazda 2 (wife has the not-so-ancient Mazda 5) I can pretty much do exactly that, minus the movie star bit of course.

When Numan published his 1997 autobiography PRAYING TO THE ALIENS I rushed to get my copy. Now he has a new self written biography REVOLUTION which is an equally, if not more so, fascinating read and update on his life.

Gary Numan’s music career is the classic ‘hills and valleys’ rollercoaster ride.

It’s the story of a musician who exploded onto the world stage back in 1979 with successive number one chart-topping hits (‘CARS’‘ARE FRIENDS ELECTRIC?’‘WE ARE GLASS’) only to spend the next 38 years in relative obscurity trying and never really succeeding to recapture the magic of those early years.

He did taste commercial success again when his 2017 album SAVAGE reached No. 2 on the UK Top 40 album charts and No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard dance/electronic chart.

In the book, Numan describes his reaction at learning the album had gone to No.2 on the charts…

“Nearly 40 years of longing, hoping, battling and set-backs all came out at once and I cried like a baby. I had no idea the emotion was there, waiting to come out. No idea at all.

People assume that it couldn’t compare to when I was number 1, but they don’t see it the way I do. It’s not just about the chart position – it’s about knowing you’ve finally got back to a point that is undeniably successful.

That number 2 was the end result of a thirty-five year struggle, and it honestly meant more to me than all the number 1’s. They’d come easy – this had taken more than half my life.

I’d been all but dead and buried, written off more than once, vilified, ridiculed, dismissed, and yet here I was again. I promise you it was the most satisfying, rewarding moment of my career. So far.” (p 449)

We learn about Gary’s Asperger’s Syndrome and the time he encountered a real life ghost in the subway.


7 thoughts on “The Rise, Fall & Rise Again of Gary Numan (Part 1)

  1. I loved that song 🎶🎶🎶He was a great artist🎶thanks for the info on him I didn’t know much about him only his music from back in the day🎶🎶🎶🎶

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Huge thanks Anon.
    Didn’t think anyone would even really bother pressing play on that clip.
    I’ve got another five posts on Gary Numan already written, so they’ll be plenty more to come throughout the year on ‘Gazza’.
    I remember he last toured Australia around 2005.
    If he ever comes again, I’d be one of the first in line.
    I reckon my next live concert though is going to be MADONNA on her ‘The Celebration’ tour – when she finally ends up getting to Australia (she’s presently performing on stages in Europe).


  3. Well, I pressed play too, even though I was pretty sure I recognized the title. I love this story. It completely ties into what we were talking about concerning writing and goals and desires and what is success. I think he’s amazing to have slipped into obscurity, not of his own making, and kept trying for 40 years. So happy he made it back, even if it ends up only being that one thing. Just “one thing” can do it for any of us, Glen! lol But I bet he’s got more in store. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for joining the “I pressed play” club Stacey.
    I don’t think Gary Numan is a name that immediately sets off bells of recognition for most music fans, of whatever age. However, his story is a fascinating (and inspiring) one that does offer lessons in resilience, pushing forward and never giving up.

    This video is for the title track off his 2021 album – his 19th – INTRUDER.
    While the song itself is more than a little on the dark side and could in no way be described as any shade of uplifting (lol), whoever made the video for Gary (ok, for the curious, it was an English music producer by the name of Chris Corner) managed to incorporate some pretty neat and subtle ‘other-worldly’ effects, in keeping with the whole post-apocalyptic look. Not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but for what it is, here is INTRUDER –

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The ‘tree’ is creepy indeed. (Took me a couple of plays to recognize it was a tree) And the version of Gary we get in this vid is not far behind.

    The chorus lyrics that sing, anthem-style, “Don’t you wish you’d just listened more” are apparently from a letter of lament written by Planet Earth to we humans for all the environmental damage we’ve inflicted over the years.

    That’s according to Gary himself, when he was asked to ‘unpack’ the symbolic meaning and themes of this song in an interview around the time of release of the album in 2021.

    Ok, that’s all a bit too much information there, I realize, but for the people who find interest in the ‘story behind the story’ – there we have it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Never too much information, good sir. That makes perfect sense anyway. And we’ll be asking that of ourselves for many years, I’m sure, except with “we”–“don’t we wish we’d just listened more?” We can only imagine what Greta would say!

    Liked by 1 person

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