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Profiles in Rock: Brian Eno

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With a new album, Drums Between the Bells, a collaboration with poet Rick Holland, that is as Eno-esque as anything in the thinking man's catalog, ol' One Brain continues to challenge the music world around him. It's time to give you the cheat sheet on Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, who turned a young 63 this past May 15, and whose birth certificate clearly ran out of space.

10) Brian Played In Roxy Music And Provided "Treatments": Brian Eno was Roxy Music's original synthesizer player. He claimed he was a "non-musician" but still got paid as a musician. He was also the guy in charge of "treatments." Psychiatric, Chiropractic, Silent.

9) Brian Gave His Albums The Best Titles: Here Come The Warm Jets denotes that Eno is in the tub and expecting a whirlpool of warm - not hot - water. Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) is perfect because it suggests there's another way to take Tiger Mountain and Eno isn't using it. Another Green World infers there was a previous green world and that they are, in fact, quite common. Before and After Science makes us wonder if Eno's future isn't in designing weightloss ads with lots of before and after shots.

8) Brian Invented Ambient Music: OK, he's considered a "principal innovator" of the genre, says Wikipedia, the authority on all catchphrases worldwide. Brilliant, considering how little you actually have to do to make ambient music. For example, if I turn my keyboard on and allow the cat to sit on it, he will likely perform ambient music for hours. I think most people's cats can do this. If not, get a new cat.

7) Brian Bossed Around David Bowie: Bowie's always seemed to be a guy who liked being given good ideas. As the greatest performer to do things second, Bowie was likely less "bossed around" by Eno than merely given jobs to do. Like a high-profile intern.

6) Brian Became The Fifth Talking Head: Brian was so forceful with Talking Heads that he practically moved in on them. You can almost hear drummer Chris Frantz sheltering his wife Tina, the bassist, from Eno's grabby British hands.

5) Brian Popularized Sampling in 1981: With David Byrne looking to get away for a few days from Chris and Tina and their incessant marital make-out sessions, Eno grabbed the main guy in the band he was "producing" to make a record called My Life In The Bush of Ghosts, best known for sampling radio programs and using "found objects" since they didn't want to pay money for real instruments.

4) Brian Bossed Around U2: Bono may be seen as an alpha male, but he and "Edge" and the guy from MASH and the other dude appreciated all the help they could get and became quite beta when Eno was around. Eno went so far as to draw up a blackboard with words representing "old U2" and "new U2." The experiment worked so well that the band spent several records trying to not sound like themselves.

3) Brian Bossed Around Paul Simon: Eno did what Art Garfunkel could not. He got himself on a recent Paul Simon album! Simon immediately got better reviews.

2) Brian Uses Oblique Strategies: Subtitled "Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas," Oblique Strategies is a set of cards, created by Brian and Peter Schmidt and first issued in 1975, that tells musicians what to do, so the musician isn't at fault when their record sucks. They're like fortune cookie fortunes for musicians.

1) Brian Enjoys Working With Others: The long and impressive list of people who have collaborated with Brian includes Robert Fripp, Robert Wyatt, Jon Hassell, Philip Glass, Robert Quine, John Paul Jones, Nico, Robert Calvert and lots of people no one has ever heard of.

He is also the author of the start-up music for the Windows 95 operating system.

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