Peter Himmelman

Peter Himmelman


A truly multi-faceted musician, Peter Himmelman is an Emmy-nominated TV composer, an acclaimed creator of children's music and a critically lauded rock troubadour, with albums on Island, Epic, Magestic, plus a career retrospective on Shout! Factory, due out on 9/6/2005.


"Suddenly I'm forty five, I'm balding, and I've been cooped up indoors doin' these thirty second snippets of television music for the last six years...I needed to make this record like you need to breathe."

A truly multi-faceted musician, Peter Himmelman is an Emmy-nominated TV composer, an acclaimed creator of children's music and a critically lauded rock troubadour.

His new solo album, Imperfect World (Majestic Recordings), offers a searing set of songs wrapped up in rock 'n' roll but delving deeper into the soul of man than most rockers would attempt. The album's genesis came with a burst of creativity that arose last summer around the Jewish fast day of Tisha B'av (the 9 th of Av). According to Himmelman, "Going without food or water for 25 hours will tend to put you into a different frame of mind." Influencing this record too was the recent death of his younger sister in a car accident. Imperfect World poignantly explores this loss and subsequently grapples with the very notion of "purpose" in a seemingly arbitrary universe.

The songs on Imperfect World - Himmelman's eleventh solo endeavor - represent a lean and muscular return to the blues, soul, and reggae roots that are the underpinnings of Himmelman's style. The urgent scream of "Wet Matches," which is fueled by Himmelman's scorching slide guitar playing, finds the singer falling into traps of passion and avarice that seem beyond his control. "I fell into the web, I became entwined, I know it's no excuse, but I've lost my mind." On "Kneel Down", he blends the spiritual and the secular into a search for salvation that finds Sixties pop singer Johnny Rivers bringing relief, while Himmelman describes the bluesy soul of "This Afternoon In The Rain" as "an idealized moment I wished I'd lived through."

Music has been an integral part of Himmelman's life since he was a kid growing up in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. "I heard a lot of good music coming from behind my older sibling's doors," the artist recalls. He distinctly remembers hearing The Animals' "House Of The Rising Sun" when he was 7 or 8. "That music hypnotized me - opened a door to a world where I could soften some existential feeling of loneliness." Himmelman's family helped form his nascent musical influences. At one time his father owned an 8-track music store and would bring home Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin tapes; his mother's eclectic musical tastes ran to Ahmad Jamal and Thelonious Monk, while his uncle introduced him to John Lee Hooker's Endless Boogie , which a young Himmelman played over and over again.

After getting his first electric guitar - a red Fender Duo Sonic - when he was 12, Himmelman soon started a rock band and began writing songs. During his high school years, he would venture over to North Minneapolis to play R&B with a circle of musicians that included future soul singing star Alexander O'Neal. In twelfth grade, he also became the guitarist (and one of only two whites) in Shangoya, an otherwise all-Trinidadian reggae/calypso band.

Leaving high school early, Himmelman used the pseudonym Sussman Lawrence and got hired as a cast member of Twin Cities, teen-geared TV show Steamroller . Besides doing comedy bits, he also got Shangoya to perform on the program. His new band - a new wave group that later assumed the Sussman Lawrence moniker performed for the first time on that show as well.

Sussman Lawrence's 1980 debut Hail To The Modern Hero! came about as a direct result of Himmelman's quick-witted father. "To make a record in Minneapolis in those days," Himmelman recounts, " you had to be especially talented or have access to a large trust fund." After the band's Steamroller appearance, Peter's Dad called the studio where the band had been cutting some demos and pretended to be a "very enthusiastic" Chicago record executive. "The next day," Himmelman relates, "the studio owner called saying that he was "suddenly eager" to press a single." After mentioning the Chicago label's "interest," Himmelman himself was able to persuade the studio owner to pony up for an entire album. The group went on to make one more record, 1984's well-received double album Pop City , but their road to success was derailed when Himmelman's father passed away.

Mourning his dad's death, Himmelman collected a set of new songs that he felt wouldn't fit with the band's tongue in cheek image. The title track and centerpiece of Peter's first solo offering was a song called, This Father's Day -which Peter had written and recorded on a simple tape deck in the basement of his parent's home. It would be the last Father's Day he would ever celebrate with his Dad. "The song created such a potent bond between my father and me...he carried that cassette around in his breast pocket until he died. In 1985, Himmelman released This Father's Day , which Rolling Stone called "stunning." MTV even started playing the video for the song "Eleventh Confession in regular


This Father's Day (Orange) 1986 (Island) 1986 (Razor & Tie) 1995
Gematria (Island) 1987
Synesthesia (Island) 1989
From Strength to Strength (Epic) 1991
Flown This Acid World (Epic) 1992
Skin (550 Music/Epic) 1994
Stage Diving (Plump) 1996
Love Thinketh No Evil (Six Degrees / Koch) 1999
My Best Friend Is a Salamander (Liquid) 2003
My Fabulous Plum (Majestic) 2004
Unstoppable Forces (Himmasongs) 2004
Imperfect World (Majestic) 2005
Mission of My Soul: The Best of Peter Himmelman (Shout! Factory) 2005

Hail to the Modern Hero! (Bigger Than Life) 1980 (Regency) 1980
Pop City (Orange) 1984
The Complete Sussman Lawrence (1979 - 1985) (Deep Shag) 2004

Set List

Peter has a large body of material to choose from, so his set list changes from night to night.

This is a tracklist from his upcoming career retrospective, Mission of My Soul: The Best of Peter Himmelman:

From the album Flown This Acid World (1992)

From the album From Strength To Strength (1991)

From the album This Father’s Day (1986)

From the album Rare On Air, Vol. 1 (1994)

From the album Imperfect World (2005)

From the album Flown This Acid World (1992)

From the album Skin (1994)

From the album Unstoppable Forces (2004)

From the album From Strength To Strength (1991)

From the album Stage Diving (1996)

From the album Love Thinketh No Evil (1998)

12. NAME
From the album Synethesia (1989)

13. I FEEL Y