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He was born in a suburb to the west of London called Ealing, England, on November 5, 1948. In his youth he studied at the University of Manchester, where he met some of the musicians with whom he integrated in 1967 the first training of Van Der Graaf Generator.
In 1968 he abandoned his studies and turned fully to his passion for music, at the time that he began to develop his great creative display until the present. His art was always characterized by a great spirit of innovation and eclecticism that has served as a reference for great progressive bands of the time. Hammill’s poetry, sometimes obscure and excessively mysterious, has earned him criticism not always benevolent from the media and specialized publications, which little seemed to matter.
His career as a soloist presents a diffuse boundary between his personal creations and those developed from the group Van der Graaf Generator, since his unmistakable style is present in both the one and the other, including frequent recording sessions with several of the musicians who are members of the band. So much so that the first album released by Van der Graaf called The Aerosol Gray Machine, until the last moment was supposed to be a solo work by Hammill.
In 1971 he made his first solo album Fool’s Mate, which contains songs from the early 1967/68 years of Van der Graaf Generator. In 1974 the album called In Camera appears, in which he interprets all the instruments. The result was a work of certain conceptual darkness, very elaborate and profound. The same year Hammill also published his book of poems and short stories entitled Killers, Angels, Refugees, including a selection of his lyrics. His second book of poetry was Mirrors, Dreams, Miracles and was published six years later in 1980.
In the year 1975 Peter Hammill expresses highly critical ideas about what he called the “Glamorous Rock” of the time, turning them into his album Nadir’s Big Chance, whose sarcastic content was considered of great influence for the Punk movement. In fact, the musician Johnny Rotten leader of the well-known punk band Sex Pistols has mentioned this work as one of his most important influences.
Since 1969 – year in which he became known with Aerosol Gray Machine – he has not stopped making music, his discography covers so many musical styles that it would be useless to try to pigeonhole him in some genre. His most recent work – Thin Air (2009) – tells of a mature artist who knows his limitations and who, aware of them, is capable of building an intense and dramatic unity.
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