|Single by Peter Gabriel|
|from the album Peter Gabriel|
|B-side||"Shosholoza", "Jetzt kommt die Flut" (12" Only,|
|Format||7" / 12"|
|Peter Gabriel singles chronology|
"Biko" is a protest song by English rock musician Peter Gabriel. The song was included on Gabriel's third album, Peter Gabriel (1980). It is about Steve Biko, a noted black South African anti-apartheid activist.
Biko had been arrested by the South African police in late August 1977. After being held in custody for several days, he was interrogated in room 619 of the Walmer Street prison in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. Following the interrogation, during which the police beat him and left him with serious head injuries, Biko was transferred without medical care to a prison in Pretoria, where he died shortly afterwards, on 12 September 1977.
The album version of the song starts with a recording of the South African song "Ngomhla sibuyayo" and ends with a recording of the South African song "Senzeni Na?", both as sung at Biko’s funeral. The German version is bookended by "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika", also sung at Biko's funeral. One line of the lyrics reads "Yehla Moya" which in Xhosa means "Come Spirit".
"Biko" was first released as a single in 1980, when it reached #38 on the British charts. A live version, recorded in July 1987 at the Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, was released later that year, reaching #49 in the UK. A live recording of the song was used to promote the Richard Attenborough Biko biopic Cry Freedom, and its music video, consisting of clips from the film and Gabriel singing, was heavily played on MTV during the film's theatrical run.
Gabriel performed the song at Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert at Wembley in 1988. Gabriel often plays the song at the end of concerts, encouraging the audience to sing along, after which most of the band leaves the stage.
|"Biko (Video Mix)"|
|Single by Peter Gabriel|
|B-side||"Biko (Edit)", "No More Apartheid"|
|Genre||Experimental rock, worldbeat|
|Producer(s)||Kevin Killen and Peter Gabriel|
Cover versions and legacy
It was covered by Manu Dibango on his 1994 album Wakafrika.
The organization Playing for Change did a cover of the song for their album Songs Around the World.
Uses in other media
- Steven Bantu Biko - A Sequence of events whilst in detention - 18 August to 12 September 1977
- Drewett, Michael (February 2007). "The Eyes of the World Are Watching Now: The Political Effectiveness of ‘Biko’ by Peter Gabriel". Popular Music and Society 30 (1): 39–51. doi:10.1080/03007760500504929.
- Drewett, Michael (2010). Peter Gabriel, from Genesis to Growing Up. Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
- Robert Wyatt - Solo
- Pedelty, Mark (2013). Political Rock. Ashgate.