The Rise, Fall & Rise Again of Gary Numan (Pt 2)

Gary Numan was a chart topping artist in the late 70’s. By the age of 21 he was worth an estimated $12 million. In 1981 he announced his retirement from music – something he now says is one of his biggest regrets.

He fell out of the commercial spotlight almost entirely and spiraled downward into crippling debt. His 2021 autobiography REVOLUTION is the story of his slow, obstacle-laden journey back to the top.

In this installment, we take a look at Gary’s experience with Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism) He writes –

“It’s been a feature of my life that I’m rarely able to live in the moment, to simply enjoy what’s happening right now, no matter how rewarding or satisfying it should be.

I’m always thinking ahead. always trying to figure out what it really means, where it might take me, what dangers are hidden within it, what I need to do to shape what comes next.” p69

Gary was diagnosed with the condition in his early twenties. He reflects –

“Becoming famous quickly, at a young age, especially when you are essentially a solo act, is not ideal. When you add Aspergers, you have an unfortunate mix that is almost guaranteed to lead to struggle. My rise was sudden, meteroric almost. I was totally unprepared for the reality of fame, and I had no experience of anything.

I was young, naive and with a mental condition that, although I would never wish to change it, was crashing around in my head like a wounded elephant. I would not recommend the way I made it to anyone, not that we ever really have a choice. I’m amazed I survived, relatively intact”. p 77

And on his unique, self-taught eye-contact method…

“I can’t remember when I came up with this, but at some point I discovered that eye contact is important, even though I have no natural feel for it. I don’t know when to look into someone’s eyes or when it’s ok to look away. I read something about it once, and eventually came up with a system”.

“I will look into someone’s eyes for no less than two seconds and no more than five. It used to be three seconds, but I’ve adapted it over time.

“My theory is anything less than two seconds doesn’t show enough interest: anything over five is too intense and can seem a bit creepy. So, whenever I’m talking to someone, I’m always counting and adjusting my eyes according to the count.

I find having a conversation with anyone I don’t know well, and sometimes even people I do know well, to be extrememly stressful – a bit like riding a bike before you’ve mastered it. I feel like I could fall off at any second and make a fool of myself.”. p197

And before we wind things up for this installment, there’s always time for a song from the…

We look at the time Gary and his girlfriend (at the time) had a real-life UFO encounter.


4 thoughts on “The Rise, Fall & Rise Again of Gary Numan (Pt 2)

  1. I was disappointed when Asperger’s was put into the ASD category under the DSM 5 because it should’ve remained a stand-alone diagnoses. It explains a high-functioning form of ASD (from what’s been explained to me) although is still difficult to live with. I can see why he disappeared at the age of 21 but at least he developed some coping mechanisms and it sounds like he’s able to function more efficiently. It just goes to show that not even 12 million dollars to a 21 doesn’t necessarily make life easier. Did he have any substance abuse?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gary Numan has been a teetotaler for most of his life, so we can rule out alcohol. As to drugs, clean in that department as well. I think the Aspergers has definitely been his cross to bear and as you mentioned, he evolved coping mechanisms to manage it. Huge task there so I say ‘Great job Gary’.


  3. Yeah, the eye contact coping mechanism is amazing. I can’t even imagine trying to count while having a conversation with someone. That he moved into something that brought him under the public eye is incredible. I think it took immense courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So true Stacey.
    We never truly know the depth of courage it takes for some people to function in this world.
    And that believe it or not is a cue for a GAME OF THRONES quote –
    “Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
    ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”

    Liked by 1 person

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