Family Snapshot

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"Family Snapshot"
Song by Peter Gabriel from the album Peter Gabriel
Released 30 May 1980
Recorded Late 1979
Genre Progressive rock
Length 4:28
Label Charisma (UK), Mercury(U.S.)
Writer Gabriel
Producer Steve Lilywhite
Peter Gabriel track listing
I Don't Remember
"Family Snapshot"
And Through the Wire

"Family Snapshot" is a song written and performed by British musician Peter Gabriel, appearing on his third eponymous album. The song was inspired by An Assassin's Diary, published in 1973 and written by Arthur Bremer, who attempted to assassinate George Wallace, a politician who supported racial segregation. Gabriel talked about the book in an authorized biography of him written by Spencer Bright and published (ISBN 0-283-99498-3) in 1988:

An Assassin's Diary was a really nasty book, but you do get a sense of the person who is writing it. Bremer was obsessed with the idea of fame. He was aware of the news broadcasts all over the world and was trying to time the assassination to hit the early evening news in the States and the late night in Europe to get maximum coverage.

To clear up some confusion over whether this song is about the assassination of Wallace or Kennedy, Gabriel stated in the introduction to the song during his concert at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle, 10 August 1983, that the song is “partly taken from the writings of Arthur Bremer and The Diary of an Assassin and mixed with a few images of Dallas twenty years ago”

The musical transition reflects the progress and emotions throughout the story. It starts off as a slow, understated piece, where the killer goes through his plan. It transitions twice; first to full-blooded rock for the building suspense, as the target unwittingly comes closer to the assassin; and then back to a quiet, mournful climax as the shooter, having just shot his target, remembers his childhood loneliness and thirst for attention that led him to where he now is.

The recording features Gabriel's first use of the Yamaha CP-70 Electric Grand Piano.[1]


  • Peter Gabriel - vocals, piano
  • David Rhodes - guitar
  • Jerry Marotta - drums
  • Larry Fast - synth
  • Phil Collins - snare drum
  • John Giblin - bass
  • Dave Gregory - guitar
  • Dick Morrissey - saxophone


  1. ^ Hecker-Stampehl, Jan. "Peter Gabriel - III ("Melt")". Genesis News. 

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