When I first read about Peter Gabriel playing with Bonobo – I thought it was a typo and they meant to write Bono – but NO Peter Gabriel has been playing music with a bonobo chimpanzee

Of course he has often played music with Bono since Bono (a magnificent hustler as he calls him) got him involved with helping good causes.

Bono Gabriel

Here’s a link to where this old photo is from. I think it was put up by the guitarist in the background – remembering the time he jammed with Peter Gabriel, Joan Baez and Bonobo (I mean Bono!)


Gabriel has always surprised artistically – and in his TED talk this week (as part of a group talk) he spoke about how he plays music with animals – including bonobo monkeys.

Here’s a link to the TED blog that tells you more about his playing with a bonobo and his desire to play with dolphins.

He talks about how he plays with musicians from around the world who do not speak the same language – and yet connect through the language of music. He believes there can be similar musical connections with animals.

His talk was part of a group discussion about inter-species communication.


Here’s part of the TED blog: thought provoking!

“I make noises for a living, and on a good day it’s music,” says Gabriel. He has always looked into the eyes of animals and wondered what is going on inside their heads, he says, soe excitedly read about research, like Reiss’, examining communication with animals.

“What was amazing to me was that [the animals] seemed a lot more adept at getting a handle on our language than we were at getting a handle on theirs,” says Gabriel. “I work with a lot of musicians from around the world. Often we don’t have any common language at all. We sit behind our instruments and it’s a way to connect.”

TED2013_0064754_DSC_8824So Gabriel started cold-calling scientists to see if he could be a part of this work. His goal: To try writing music with an animal. And he got his chance.

In a video clip that raises oohs and ahhs from audience, Gabriel shares a video of a bonobo with a keyboard. While bonobos had been introduced to percussion instruments before, and bashed them with their fists, this was the first time this bonobo had ever seen a keyboard. And with accompaniment, she played truly amazing music.

Here’s a link to his project Bonobo Hope – to help save bonobos.



Of course he also does lots of work to help people fight human rights abuses through a project called WITNESS which equips people with cameras.


I guess I’m still a sucker for that 80s optimism that Bono and Gabriel (and Sting and Geldof) represented. It’s g0od to see these now mature musicians on a mission are still dedicated to their causes.

Their activism wasn’t just a fashionable accessory  – to be ditched like a bad  80’s haircut 🙂

If you’re interested in finding out how YOU can borrow from the speaking techniques of Bono and Peter Gabriel – here’s an earlier post about how to use the power of words to move people!




Also, if you’re curious to know more about: What is a bonobo?



4 thoughts on “Peter Gabriel plays with Bono(bo) – TED 2013

  1. Hi there – I am indeed the source of that photo, having had the good fortune to jam with Bono & Peter a few times. I just saw Bono on Tuesday night, right before his TED talk and had a great reunion with Peter a few weeks ago in New Orleans. Both guys are as conscious & fun as ever and continue to put their renown as musicians to the best possible use(s). Best, Fuzzbee

  2. Hi Fuzzbee – great to connect. So cool you are still in contact with Peter Gabriel and Bono. The bonds you make in the early years often endure. What a great moment in history captured in your photo. Do you live in California now?

  3. Yep, based in California. That photo is from an “off-duty” jam during the Amnesty tour. We took over the nightclub in our hotel for a few memorable nights in Atlanta. You never forget great moments of connection with people, be be it musically, through deep laughter or whatever medium. That tour was off the map!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s