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Gary Numan

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Hammersmith, West London, U.K. (1979 – present)

Gary Numan (born Gary Anthony James Webb on 8 March 1958) is an influential English singer, composer, and musician. Most widely known for his chart-topping 1979 hits “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” (when in Tubeway Army) and “Cars”, Numan achieved his peak of mainstream popularity in the late and early but maintains a loyal cult following. Numan, whose signature sound consists of heavy synthesizer hooks fed through guitar effects pedals, is considered a pioneer of commercial music.

Both Numan’s music and his transgressive public image are known for his sense of alien coldness and embrace of influences. Becoming of the founding fathers of -based pop music, Numan’s reach extends far beyond his lone American hit, “Cars,” which still stands as one of the defining singles. That seminal track helped usher in the era on both sides of the Atlantic, especially his native England, where he was a genuine pop star and consistent hit-maker during the early . Even after new wave had mostly petered out, Numan’s influence continued to make itself felt. His dark, paranoid vision, theatrically icy persona, and clinical, robotic sound were echoed strongly in the work of many rock and (especially) artists during the past several decades. For his part, Numan just kept on recording, and, by the late , he’d become a hip name to drop. Prominent bands have covered his hits, with Numan himself playing live with Nine Inch Nails briefly to much acclaim, and a -flavored brand of -type music christened looks to him as its mentor.

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