The first question most people ask is where I got the weird names for the various sub-pages on this site. The answer: each is the title of a Gary Numan song, which I felt was an appropriate title for that particular page as well (or else the song contains lyrics that make the title appropriate for that page). Usually you can go to that page and download a short clip OF THAT SONG, in addition to seeing the information pertaining to that page. For example, this page is called "This Is My House", which is a song from Gary's I, Assassin album. You can click on the name of the song in the preceding sentence to read the lyrics, or click on the name of the album to see a synopsis of the album it came from. Returning to the top of the page and clicking on the "This Is My House" graphic will let you listen to a brief clip from this song. See how easy it is?
The second question most people ask is: just who the heck is this
Gary Numan guy?
If you were around and listening to music in 1979 (or 1980 in the USA), you may remember a fairly popular little song called Cars. This song catapulted Gary Numan to fame, although today the song is often misidentified as being performed by Devo, or The Human League, or (ironically) The Cars.
Gary Numan was the first performer to achieve major pop success using the synthesizer for main instrumentation. In effect, he was the First Wave of the New Wave, opening the door for the Second British Invasion (ie: Human League, Soft Cell, Duran Duran, etc.). But unlike many of these shallow, all-style-no-substance bands, Gary's music was more than just catchy riffs and a beat you could dance to. Unfortunately, this plethora of actual substance resulted in Gary's downfall as a commercial success story.
Early in 1979, Gary achieved a remarkable feat - he had an album and a single go simultaneously to #1 on the UK pop charts. The album was Replicas and the single was "Are 'Friends Electric?" Buoyed by this success, another album (The Pleasure Principle) was quickly released and did the near-impossible: it too went #1, and along for the #1 ride was the single that would forever-after be synonymous with Gary Numan: "Cars". He also released the world's first music video for sale: The Touring Principle.
But while Gary was picking up millions of new fans, and selling albums by the truckload, he was also pissing off the music establishment in Great Britain. Radio One, which at one time had been very pro-Numan, began turning against him. They began playing him less and less, until finally most singles that Gary released would get 4 or 5 plays on Radio One before being dropped. Gary had not helped his cause when his follow-up album, 1980's Telekon, contained songs that railed against the music establishment and about how fame (and the incestuous nature of the music business) had been a tremendous disappointment to him. One only needs to read the lyrics to such songs as "Remind Me To Smile" or "This Wreckage" to see the depth of his disillusionment.
Telekon sold well... but from this point onward a combination of negative press coverage and Gary's rapidly changing music styles caused sales of each subsequent album to be lower than the one released previously. In 1994, he released Sacrifice, his most critically-acclaimed album of all time... and it sold shit.
Indeed, up until very recently, Gary Numan has been releasing music that has been purchased only by an ever-dwindling core group of die-hard devoted fans. This matters less to Gary than it might to other artists: he's still receiving millions of dollars in back-royalties on sales of his early, most successful albums and singles, plus he's got a second career. He's one of Great Britain's top display pilots, currently flying a vintage World War II Harvard trainer. He's in the enviable position of being able to release the music that he WANTS to release, without having to worry too much about how well it sells.
But in the late 80's and early 90's, Gary went through a particularly dark phase of his career creatively, when the well had dried up for him. It got so bad that he began thinking seriously about chucking the whole music career entirely. But 1994's Sacrifice changed all that, and his pending 1996 release, Exile, is widely expected to be his finest achievement of a long and brilliant career, as anonymous as it may have been.
That anonymity is beginning to change as well. Over the last few years, a surprisingly-large number of bands have chosen to cover Gary Numan, including The Foo Fighters, Nancy Boy, Shampoo, Generator, and others. In 1996, an entire album of covers by a duo named Techno Army was released. And sometime in 1996 or 1997, a 2-CD tribute album of Numan covers will be released which features some of the hottest names in the business, such as Tori Amos and Nine Inch Nails.
Indeed, many of the best and brightest up-and-coming stars are citing Gary Numan as having a profound influence on them musically. This says a lot about the music Gary's been creating, particularly since it's highly unlikely these people were hearing Gary on the radio. Outside of the UK, the only advertising Gary Numan gets is word-of-mouth.
This new-found allegiance has caused Gary to be "rediscovered" by
mainstream media. MTV and VH-1 are covering him favourably and he's been
receiving write-ups in many major industry magazines. Assuming Exile is as good as insiders believe it will
be, Gary Numan appears poised to make a huge comeback.
A Numanoid is a die-hard Gary Numan fan. It's a term that's used in a pejorative sense by outsiders, but as a badge of honour by insiders. Like the "Trekkers" of the 70's and 80's before them, it is their refusal to abandon their love that has kept the whole movement alive. The Numanoids have suffered much: in some cases, the obsession with Numan has put a strain on friendships and marriages, and in at least one case I'm aware of, has led to divorce.
Numanoids buy all the studio albums, the live albums, the myriad uncountable numbers of compilations, the videos, the t-shirts and posters, the collectibles, anything they can get their hands on. If you want a small but guaranteed market for your product, put the word "Numan" on it and let the Numanoids know it's available. Derek Langsford has written an excellent parody of Numan's Absolution, which really sums up the way many fans put their growing Numan collection ahead of other, possibly more important, things in their lives.
Numanoids exhibit many of the signs of addiction. They speak of him constantly: put two Numanoids in a room and they can talk Numan for hours WITHOUT GETTING BORED. They show real withdrawal symptoms when deprived of Numan, including irritability and depression. And in at least twelve known cases, they spend countless hours building and maintaining Gary Numan web sites on the internet.
Yes, I'm a Numanoid (yeah, like you hadn't guessed already). I've got the addiction and I'm proud of it. Why? Because as negatively as I've just described it, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
First and foremost is: the music itself. Gary Numan will be the first to tell you that he considers himself to be "just a guy" who happens to write songs - the implication is that he's no different from the rest of the so-called "pop stars" out there.
Yet one of the hallmarks of Gary's music is the experimental nature of it. Gary gets bored easily and continually reinvents himself, trying new things to see where they'll lead him. NOBODY ELSE does this to this degree. If Gary Numan really wanted another #1 single on the radio, he could have it - as he himself says, almost anyone can write a successful pop song. You just gotta take a look at what's selling today, and copy it... adding only one or two unique riffs and some throw-away lyrics.
Gary chooses to try other things, and it's here where the brilliance of the man really shines through - when he's going for the unique, the untried, the undiscovered. Not all of it works... after all, nobody's perfect. But most of the time, his results are outstanding. Good or bad, whatever he comes up with, whether it takes him 5 minutes or 5 years, is absolutely unique. Every time. He is blessed with an uncommon musical ability that enchants his fans, keeping them coming back again and again. If I may pay him the compliment, he is the 20th century equivalent of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Both were years ahead of their time, which may explain why it is TODAY'S musicians that are "discovering" Gary Numan, whereas his 80's contemporaries ignored him.
To steal a line from Diane Duane, they both have the ability to "write music not to be heard, but to be felt, and experienced... not with the ears, but with the mind and soul".
The music isn't the only thing to admire about the man. Take, for example, the way he tours. A Gary Numan concert is an extravaganza, combining impressive lights, lasers, and other visual effects with stunning arrangements and an almost mesmerizing stage-presence. These concert tours usually wind up costing more than they earn... but this is his way of giving something back to his die-hard fans, the ones who have bought every album over the years and kept his career from finally crash-landing. It's slightly ironic that the same man who once railed against being the property of fans has now come to love them as much as they love him.
Numanoids tend to fall into certain groups. There's the "Original Numanoids", who can remember buying Gary's first single. Then there's the "Cars Numanoids", who were first introduced to Gary via his radio singles. There's also a North American group of "SNL Numanoids", who trace their first exposure to Gary to his appearance on the NBC television show "Saturday Night Live" in 1979. There's the "Live Numanoids" who wound up, willingly or unwillingly, attending a Numan concert performance and liking what they saw. And then there's the "New Numanoids", who have come on board at some time after 1980. Sadly, this is the smallest group.
Of great personal interest to myself is the fact that my kid sister Heather, who is 18 years my junior, is becoming a Numanoid herself (she thinks he's "cute"). I recently made a few Numan audio tapes for her to listen to: she thought Christmas had come early! Numan, through his music, has provided a way for us to connect in a way that we simply hadn't been able to do before. Gary signed an autograph for me and dedicated it to Heather: this is where the connection began, and for this I can't thank him enough.
Gary Numan has led a life that most of us can only dream of, and in doing so he's become one heck of a role model. At an early age, he decided that he wanted to be either a rock star or an airplane pilot. He's achieved both, through patience, hard work, and above all - PERSERVERENCE. Nobody's suffered more at the hands of the music industry than Gary Numan, yet by any definition he is an unqualified success. Yet throughout his whole ordeal, he's done it HIS WAY, writing HIS music the way HE wants it to be heard.
I think the best quote I can think of that sums this up comes from an
interview back around 1985 or so. He was asked if he was disappointed
about a recent album's sales reaching "only half a million". His response:
"if I sell half a million records then I've made half a million people
happy. And if you can make half a million people happy then you've done
Gary Numan no longer sells half a million copies when he releases an album. He probably considers himself lucky if he can break the 50,000 mark. Yet he soldiers on, undaunted. He says that he once felt that the relationship between the artist and his fans is a 50-50 relationship, each taking and giving equally. He now feels that this isn't the case at all, and that he owes his fans "everything". This may be factually correct, but in this writer's opinion he was closer to the mark with his original "50-50" view: we may give much of ourselves to him, but this is because we feel it's the very least we could do. In giving us so very much, we as fans feel compelled to respond in kind. He has earned our admiration, our loyalty, our respect, and most of all, our undying love.
And we repay him at every opportunity.
This site on the web is my way of giving something back, both to Gary and to the other fans who've given so much of themselves. It is literally a labour of love: a very small monument to a very large man. I do hope you enjoy it, as a fan or a prospective fan. If I can make even one of you happy, then I've done something.
- Joey Lindstrom, August 9th 1996