Brian Eno

On this date in 1948, Brian Peter George Eno was born in Woodbridge, England, and grew up in rural Suffolk. He graduated from the Winchester School of Art in 1969, where he studied painting. Eno felt that his work was influenced by avant-garde music, but did not go into music because he didn’t play an instrument.

He did work with sound by using cassette tapes and synthesizers, and in 1971 he joined the group Roxy Music, where he manipulated sound and sang backup. Eno’s on-stage garb in the early portion of his career was influential on the growing glam rock scene. After Eno left Roxy, he went on to record several solo albums.

In 1975 he developed the idea of ambient music, which was designed to blend with the surroundings. Eno has worked as a producer on many albums, including several albums for both U2 and Coldplay and one collaboration with Paul Simon. He also works with generative music, or music that is created according to a rule, for example a computer program.

His 2006 work “77 Million Paintings” combined generative music with generative video for a viewing experience that will be different every time. Eno created the score for Peter Jackson’s 2009 film “The Lovely Bones.” He continues to compose and record imaginative music as of this writing in 2019. Eno’s “Reflection” (2017), an album of ambient, generative music, was nominated for a Grammy at 2018’s 60th Grammy Awards ceremony.

Eno referred to himself in a 2007 BBC interview about “77 Million Paintings” as “kind of an evangelical atheist, actually.” In an interview with FACT magazine (Aug. 4, 2012), he compared his work to religion: “Religion gives people a chance to surrender. And I think part of what happens to people when they come into one of my shows is that they practise this feeling of surrendering.”

In 1967 at age 18 he married Sarah Grenville and they had a daughter that year. After divorcing, he married his manager Anthea Norman-Taylor in 1988. They have two daughters, Irial and Darla.

Freedom From Religion Foundation