AKA Brian Peter George St. John Le Baptiste de la Salle Eno
Birthplace: Woodbridge, Suffolk, England
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Music Producer, Musician
Executive summary: Here Come The Warm Jets
One of the most widely-known musicians to have successfully positioned themselves within both the mainstream and the avant-garde fields, Brian Peter George St. Baptiste de la Salle Eno was -- of course -- decended from several generations of postmen, but was deflected from the family vocation (aside from two holiday seasons) by the insidious influence of American doo-wop, introduced into their rural, Suffolk County home by his older sister's U.S. Air Force boyfriends. The damage was subsequently made irrevocable by attendance at art schools in Ipswitch and Winchester, where he was introduced to the work of British avant-garde composers Cornelius Cardew and John Tilbury (both participants (at different times) in the improvisational ensemble AMM), as well as American insigators such as John Cage and Terry Riley. His interest in visual media was quickly superceded by these audio influences, and during the late 60s he abandoned messing about with paint in favor of messing about with tape recorders.
Eno's audio experimentation soon led to public performance, beginning with the formation of Merchant Taylor's Simultaneous Cabinet and followed briefly by the improv-rock band The Maxwell Demon. By 1969 he had finished school and relocated to London, where he became involved in a pair of unconventional music collectives: Cardew's conceptually-based Scratch Orchestra and Portsmouth Sinfonia, an ensemble of amateur musicians organized by Gavin Bryars to perform classical standards. His activities then took a more mainstream turn in 1971, when an encounter with saxophone player Andy Mackay brought about his membership in the glam-rock group Roxy Music -- at first just in a technical capacity, but becoming fully integrated into the line-up before the band's first album had been released. This eponymous debut was met with immediate critical and commercial success, due in no small part to Eno's peculiar embellishments; a second album (For Your Pleasure) followed in 1973, reinforcing both Eno and Roxy's influential status.
The flamboyantly androgynous stage persona adopted by Eno, combined with his pioneering use of sythesizers and processing, inevitably led to his becoming the most attention-attracting personality in Roxy Music; this development complicated the already diverging musical sensibilty between himself and frontman Bryan Ferry, and resulted in the end of his association with the band in 1973. A solo career was launched without pause - although, by this time, Eno's identity as an independent musical entity had already been established by his involvement in the recording of Portsmouth Sinfonia Plays The Popular Classics and -- more significantly -- No Pussyfooting, a groundbreaking album and tour with King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. His first solo effort, Here Comes The Warm Jets, subsequently materialized in 1974, once again demonstrating an knack to create inventive music that could elicit both critical acclaim and some degree of commercial success. The single Seven Deadly Finns was then released just prior to a UK tour with The Winkies (cut short on the fifth night by the collapse of Eno's right lung).
While recovering from his health problems, Eno spent a period in the States producing and performing on Fear (1974), the fifth album by former Velvet Underground multi-insrumentalist John Cale (a role he would continue over Cale's next two albums, Slow Dazzle and Helen OF Troy (both 1975)). In mid-1974 he was invited by Cale to perform at London's Rainbow Theatre as part of an ensemble that also included Nico (another former member of The Velvet Underground), Kevin Ayers (formerly of Soft Machine) and Robert Wyatt (with whom he had collaborated the preivious year on Little Red Record, the second album by Wyatt's post-Soft Machine band Matching Mole); the event would be commemorated by an album release (titled June 1st 1974) later in the year. In addition to his next two solo albums (Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (1974), Another Green World (1975)), his work with Cale, and a second collaboration with Fripp (Evening Star (1975)) over the following year Eno expanded his recording credits to include releases by Wyatt, Nico, former Roxy bandmate (and frequent collaborator) Phil Manzanera, and the final release by the Peter Gabriel-fronted version of Genesis (1974's The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway).
In the midst of his other activities during 1975, Eno collaborated with artist Peter Schmidt to create Oblique Strategies, a series of one hundred cards designed to utilize chance as a source for creative inspiration; the set would subsequently be expanded and reissued several times throughout the next three decades. An even more important development for the musician that year took place during yet another period of convalescence (this time as the result of a car accident): while confined to his bed for a period of months, the basis for his concept of 'ambient music' was conceived, first manifesting itself to a limited extent on Another Green World, but more thoroughly explored at the conclusion of 1975 on the album Discreet Music. The following year, a limited edition release of Music For Films would continue to explore this direction - a direction which, by the following decade, would essentially dominate his recorded output.
In the midst of completing Before And After Science (1976), the last of his conventionally song-based releases for what would turn out to be nearly two decades, Eno embarked upon the first of a series of collaborative relationships that would produce career-defining works for each of his successive partners. Beginning with Low (1976) and following with Heroes (1977) and Lodger (1979), Eno and producer Tony Visconti aided David Bowie in creating three of the most distinctive and critically-acclaimed releases of his career. While this partnership was still underway, Eno also initiated a creative relationship with the American band Talking Heads, assuming production duties for their second album More Songs About Buildings And Food in 1978; this relationship would again result in a trio of career-defining releases (rounded out by Fear of Music (1979) and Remain In Light (1980)), as well as 'spinning-off' to include Eno's involvement in The Catherine Wheel (1981), the first solo effort by Heads' frontman David Byrne. Perhaps the most significant result of their partnership, however, was the groundbreaking co-credited album My Life In A Bush Of Ghosts (1981), a project that would combine a wide variety of musical styles with a prescient approach to audio experimentation and media sampling. As if this activity was not already enough, concurrent with this other work Eno was contributing to the beginnings of both the 'new wave' and 'no wave' music movements, producing releases such as Devo's debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (1978), the No New York compilation (also 1978), and Ultravox's Three Into One (1980).
Throughout the 1980s, both the ambient and production aspects of Eno's career continued to gain recognition. Having already launched his Ambient series in the form of Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978) and completed a pair of collaborations with the German synthesizer duo Cluster towards the end of the 70s, he continued his exploration of atmospheres in the new decade with an extensive catalog of releases: sometimes on his own (Empty Landscapes (1981), Ambient 4: On Land (1982), Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks (1983)), but also in collaboration with keyboardist Harold Budd (Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror (1980), The Pearl (1984)) and trumpeter Jon Hassell (Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics (1980), Fourth World, Vol. 2: Dream Theory In Malaya (1981). At the other end of his activities, in 1984 Eno embarked upon what would be the most commercially successful production relationship of his career when he helmed sessions for The Unforgettable Fire, the fourth studio album by Irish rock band U2. The band continued to enlist his services as their popularity assumed gargantuan proportions on the road to the 1990s, and his input is increasingly noticeable on the mega-selling releases The Joshua Tree (1987), Achtung Baby (1991) and Zooropa (1993) (he would later be re-enlisted for the albums All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000) and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004)). In 1995, Eno even managed to briefly seduce the band into commercial suicide with the too-weird-for-the-top-40 side project Passengers.
A return to song-oriented material finally arrived in 1990 via Wrong Way Up, a collaborative album with John Cale; a new solo collection of songs subsequently appeared in 1992 as Nerve Net, an album which also featured contributions from former Pussyfooting pal Robery Fripp. The reunions continued in 1995 when Eno resurrected his association with David Bowie, once again directing the singer's material down the road to madness for the Actionist-tainted offering Outside; this period of work together also carried over into some minor Eno input on the follow-up release Earthling (1997). Amongst these other projects, the more restrained aspect of the musician's sensibilities were not wholly neglected in 90s, and his explorations of sonic atmospheres continued to be represented through albums like The Shutov Assembly (1992), Neroli (1993), and - in a somewhat different manner - the multimedia package Headcandy (1994). Subsequent solo projects were kept focused on this more abstract territory (Bell Studies for the Clock of the Long Now (2003) and a third Fripp and Eno collaboration The Equatorial Stars (2005)), with many being audio documents of his various installations, made available only through his online shop (Music For White Cube (1997), I Dormienti (1999), Music For Civic Recovery Centre (2000) and Compact Forest Proposal (2001), amongst others). Further adventures in pop music, however, did eventually surface again in 2005 with the album Another Day On Earth.
Overlaying all of his other forms of activity, Brain Eno has maintained parallel careers as a lecturer, installation artist and occasional author. As far back as 1975 he began doing 'public talks' (the first at the request of composer Michael Nyman), and this format reached its peak in 1988, when he organized a world-wide lecture tour on a variety of subjects. While living in New York during the early 80s, Eno created his first public installation Mistaken Memories of Medieval Manhattan, which featured video footage of the sky shot sideways. Later installation projects included the inauguration of a Shinto shrine in Japan in 1989 and a multimedia exhibition staged at a self-storage unit next to Wembley Stadium. In 1996 he brought his sound installation work into the private home by creating Generative Music, a software program that generates self-evolving sound pieces. His first published work, the limited press Music For Non-Musicians, was issued in 1968; a few more widely-distributed works have since materialized, the most notable being A Year (With Swollen Appendices), extracts from his personal diary published in 1996 by Faber and Faber.
Father: William Eno (postman, d. 1988)
Brother: Roger Eno (musician)
Wife: Sarah Grenville (m. 1967, div.)
Daughter: Hannah (b. 1967)
Wife: Anthea Norman-Taylor (m. 1988)
Daughter: Irial (b. 1990)
Daughter: Darla (b. 1992)
University: Ipswich Art School
University: Winchester College of Art (1966-69)
The Maxwell Demon (1967)
Portsmouth Sinfonia Clarinetist (1970-74)
Roxy Music Keyboardist/Tapes (1971-73)
Fripp and Eno (1973-75 and 2004)
801 Vocalist/Multi-instrumentalist (1976-77)
Cluster and Eno (1977-78)
Talking Heads (1978-81)
Brian Eno and Peter Sinfield (1979)
Harold Budd and Brian Eno (1980-85)
Jon Hassell and Brian Eno (1980)
Brian Eno and David Byrne (1980-81)
Eno Moebius Roedelius Plank (1984-85)
Brook Eno Lanois (1985)
Eno / Cale (1990)
Eno / Wobble (1995)
Brian Eno and J. Peter Schwalm (2000-01)
Nervous Breakdown 1974
Long Now Foundation
Belgian Ancestry Maternal
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Scott Walker: 30 Century Man (31-Oct-2006) · Himself
Author of books:
Music for Non-Musicians (1968)
More Dark Than Shark (1986, with Russell Mills)
A Year With Swollen Appendices: Brian Eno's Diary (1996)
Do you know something we don't?
Submit a correction or make a comment about this profile
Copyright ©2012 Soylent Communications