Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson has often been the man behind the scenes in his 35+ year career in music. He was known and celebrated as a pioneer in electronic and industrial music, sampling and video – first with Throbbing Gristle – and in the last 30 years with his own long-running Coil project (from 1982 until co-conspirator Jhonn Balance’s death in 2004), Psychic TV, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Rage Against the Machine and many more. But much of his work – the stuff your mom probably was aware of – was behind the scenes. He often portrayed himself in this boy in the back room image in Coil publicity shots. Little about his biography indicates that he was very shy. But it seems clear he had his hands firmly on the controls creating images and video for Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel (his first three solo album covers), Paul McCartney, Jah Wobble, The Crystal Method, Rollins Band, Hanson, Erasure, Robert Plant, Sepultura, Van Halen, and Yes, for the Owner of A Lonely Heart Video. Now that is subversive. There are even more curious entries to be found in his videography. (A partial list is to be found on Wikipedia.) We have lost one of the premier image makers in popular music, aged only 55. And he could make the electronics scream real good, too.
Windowpane by Coil.
The uploaded video is not of the best quality. I picked this track because it is one I used to play on my old radio show in the early 1990s. It was the white label promo 12 inch and it fit in nicely with the mix of acid house, industrial, post punk and American post-hardcore/grunge/what-have-you I would spin on Wednesday mornings on WRPI 91.5FM, Troy. WRPI’s record library contained (and still did, last I checked in 2009) an impressive collection of records by Throbbing Gristle and it’s various offspring. Windowpane also evokes some of the feel of Joy Division’s ‘New Dawn Fades’. It’s a more positive flip on that haunting melody.
Throbbing Gristle bandmates Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti have issued a statement on the band’s website.
Dave Simpson’s memorial post on the Guardian’s Music Blog.
I picked three of my favorite photos of Sleazy from Chris Carter’s flickr collection.