Q. What is Brian Eno's full/real name?
(Deep breath) Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. He was christened Brian Peter George Eno, and gained the St. John le Baptiste de la Salle bit during his education at a Catholic school founded by St Jean-Baptiste de la Salle. For the early part of his career he found it more convenient to be known simply as ENO.
Q. And when was he born?
15th May 1948.
Q. I see. And did he have any distinguishing features?
Baby Eno was described as "bald and grumpy". No change there then. No, no, of course not. We have no idea.
Q. Is he religious, as he was brought up Catholic?
Nope, he's called himself "kind of an evangelical atheist", though he's not the sort of evangelist who insists on talking about it whether you want to or not. That upbringing is bound to have a lasting effect; some religious imagery made it into his early songs, and his installations often have a secular contemplative church-like atmosphere.
Q. Where is Eno's studio located?
For many years, he has owned a building in London that houses his studio space and office, which frequently appears in photographs accompanying interviews and video interviews. When he lived in Woodbridge he had a studio room called The Wilderness – this appeared in the Imaginary Landscapes video. According to the BBC World Service program, Musicworks (12 January 1994), he used to have one at his house, located off to the side of his kitchen. He'll record anywhere. In an article by Tim de Lisle in The Independent On Sunday, 10 May 1998, Anton Corbijn said: "Brian was recording in Amsterdam earlier this year. We had a meal one night and I promised to visit him in the studio next day and take a photo. I couldn't believe where I found him. It was like the film Delicatessen – some derelict basement, in an abandoned part of the harbour, in a soon- to- be- demolished house. The most basic "studio" I had ever been in. And he was all by himself! He was as happy as Larry – had a few instruments lying around and was singing over the sounds he had just created, then proudly played me the results."
Q. Where is Eno's home located?
London, about a kilometre from his studio at time of writing. He also has a place in Norfolk close to the Suffolk border. He lived in Oxfordshire for a time. In the late 80s/early 90s he lived in Woodbridge, Suffolk, but he found not living in a city a bit dull. He's lived in New York, San Francisco, and St Petersburg, and travels widely; wherever he lays his hat, that's his home.
Q. Who is Roger Eno?
Brian's younger brother (11 years younger). They started recording together in the 1980s, collaborating on Apollo, Music For Films II, and other projects, including working together with Michael Brook on his releases Hybrid and Cobalt Blue. Roger had been a busker and a music therapist before actually releasing any music. He's brought out loads of albums. You must have seen them. Between Tides, Lost In Translation, The Nightgarden and Roger Eno At Lincoln Cathedral (if you can get it) are good starting-points. The brothers had two sisters, Rita and Arlette.
Q. Does Eno ever exist in a powder or liquid form?
If you live in Canada and the UK, yes! Eno is found on the shelves of pharmacies/chemists as an aid to digestion. Eno fruit salts is added to water, and drunk while actively fizzing. No doubt, it changes the ambient mood of the digestive tract!
Q. What was Brian Eno's first band?
Brian and his friends formed a group called The Black Aces in 1964. There is a photo of him in the band holding a pair of drumsticks (wood, not chicken). Later on he formed Maxwell Demon with guitarist Anthony Grafton. They recorded only once – a song called "Ellis B. Compton Blues", on 4-track, on Christmas Day 1968.
Q. What's with this "The Domed One" reference? Isn't it insulting?
It's been commonly used by the music press for years, particularly in the achingly ironic 1990s. It would seem that Eno doesn't mind or is used to it by now. Other nick-names include Professor Eno, The Professor, Brain One, Beano, Old Bean, and Bald-As-Coot-Him-Music-Maker-Fly-Fly-Make-Music-Like-Perfume (though you don't hear that one very often).
Q. Is Eno God?
Apparently in New York City in the late 70's and perhaps in some other parts of the universe it was not uncommon to see "ENO IS GOD" spray-painted on city walls or written on the bathroom walls. We have eye-witness evidence that 'twas so, look here:
I just discovered your site through Nerve Net. I have been an Eno fan since college in the mid 70s and while everyone around me was listening to the Dead, I discovered Eno (through Rolling Stone record reviews, I think). Anyway, sitting around my dorm one evening, and no I wasn't stoned, I came up with the phrase "Eno is God". It may have been a response to Deadheads telling me Jerry was God, I really can't recall. Then, clever bastard that I was, I came up with Eno spelled backward is One and God is One therefore Eno is God.
To cut to the chase, I went to college on Long Island and occasionally went into the City, mainly to scour record stores for imports, unusual items, etc. While wandering in the Village, I walked through Washington Square and on one of the arches was spray-painted "Eno is God". I felt like part of a vast worldwide conspiracy. Others had discovered what I thought was a unique thought. So the answer to your question about the Eno is God legend is that it is true and I witnessed it myself. – donald stefanski
We can't attest to the accuracy of statements about Brian's apotheosis. He certainly has achieved a "god-like" status in the music industry, but that's something completely different. Or is it? We have heard reports that in Renaissance Venice, it was not uncommon to see "ENO IS DOGE" written in clothes-dye on the city walls. We can't attest to the accuracy of these stories either, although if it's true, then Eno must be a lot older than we'd thought. He's definitely visited Venice, so what more proof do you need?
Q. What is Eno's sexual orientation?
Blimey, you're a bit fresh, aintcha? This section is only in the FAQ for historical reasons, as it used to come up on the Eno newsgroup with tedious regularity... although that was back in the very early 1990s when people were less blasé about such matters. It was also in the very early 1990s when people actually knew what a newsgroup was. Gee, you young whippersnappers. Anyway... Some people assumed that because he preferred a feminine look with makeup and clothing in the early Seventies, it automatically followed that he was gay or bisexual (long hair doesn't count as it was de rigeur part of the Glam Rock uniform, shifting sideways into the Heavy Metal arena where it still thrives). But you've got to see his outrageous appearance in the context of the times he was living in. Sure, the sexual revolution might have begun in the Sixties, but by the early Seventies it still hadn't really altered much in the way of gender roles. Men were still expected to be the breadwinners, strong manly types. Eno's response to this expectation was to rebel against it and emphasise the "feminine" side of his nature, which he viewed as the more creative aspect. Whatever the reason, there's no doubt that many people in those less enlightened times found his androgynous look an inspiration to explore their own differences.
By 1995 Eno was continuing to emphasise parts of the feminine – as his diary A Year (with Swollen Appendices) attests – although in this case he was using Photoshop on his Mac to enlarge pictures of buttocks and breasts. We swear we're not making this up!
Returning to the question, he described himself as a heterosexual on the back of his Diary but the real response is "Why would it matter? Why would anything matter? What's the point of the question? What's the point of Life itself?" We like David Bowie's quip on the Seventies Eno: "He was a very glamorous young man... I was very jealous!"
Q. Is Eno married?
Yes. Twice. Not at the same time though. Reader, his (then) manager Anthea Norman-Taylor married him. He has 3 daughters, not all via this union. It used to appear that he preferred his private life be kept private, and he was especially reticent when he appeared on Desert Island Discs in the early 90's, answering questions on the topic of family life with a flat "Yes". In 1996 all that changed when he published his Diary of 1995, which will tell you all you need to know. EnoWeb tends to view Eno's personal life as beyond its remit, above its pay-grade, and beneath its dignity.
Q. But doesn't he have a reputation for being a bit wild where the beast-with-two-backs thang is concerned?
Eno was well-known in younger and happier days for his [ahem] flamboyant lifestyle, perhaps best summed up in Everything you'd rather not have known about Brian Eno... although the author of that article later said "I made stuff up, I totally blagged it". Rumors of his sexual prowess in the 01970's were common in Creem and other magazines, a conclusion you may already have drawn from your visits to our archive of interviews & articles from that era. As Suede might say, he was one of the Wild Ones. Bored by drugs ' n ' rock ' n ' roll, there was obviously only one part of the rock-star equation to keep him going!
Some people also wonder loudly, What are Eno's favorite porno magazines? -- presumably in the hope that by perusing these magazines some of Eno's musical genius may rub off onto them. Ooh, no, missus! Titter ye not! Anyway, in an interview in a newspaper in late 1993 The Domed One said that two of his favourite porno magazines were Big Ones and Over 40, and that he bought them occasionally. Eno is also known to be an avid collector of pornographic playing cards and he had a habit of including one on the album cover art of his early releases. (See the cover of Here Come the Warm Jets for a better understanding of the title). He also likes female mud-wrestling videos and in his Diary complains about his imported vids being intercepted by Customs. But he says that it is only a myth that he has a large collection of pornography, and a few years back on a television documentary he said that as he got older sex became more psychological and that "appetite has consequences".
Q. What's this about Eno and Anagrams?
Brain One has a fondness for wordplay and anagrams. The titles "King's Lead Hat" and Before and After Science are anagrams - where the words have been created by rearranging the letters from other words. "King's Lead Hat" is an anagram of "Talking Heads".
Ben Arion appears on vocals on one track on the Christiane F soundtrack, which also credits Brian Eno for a few other thing on the same release. Ben Arion also is credited on some Michael Brook releases and on a release by a french band, Tanit. Ben O'Rian also appears on record labels from time to time. Whilst not an anagram, CSJ Bofop is another Eno identity, writing the film descriptions for the Passengers album and also writing notes for Generative Music 1. He is created using a substitution cypher (B=C, R=S, I=J etc).
Robert Fripp and King Crimson also seem to share a fondness for anagrams. "Thela Hun Gingeet" is "Heat In The Jungle". And a Matching Mole track produced by Fripp with an appearance by Eno originally appears as "Nan True's Hole" and later re-appears as a Hatfield and the North track named "O Len's Nature."
We wondered about the anagram of Before and After Science for a long time. Then, in 1995, the answer appeared on Usenet.
Joseph Zitt wrote:
"Anyone who knows me knows this story. I am constantly telling it."
Some years ago (1980?) EG Records had a competition for people to guess what the phrase "Before and After Science" was originally an anagram for. The prize was a set of Oblique Strategies.
I figured out what I was sure it *had* to be: "Bad Case of Interference". Turns out it was something else -- and I can't recall what, other that that the last two words *may* have been "of creed". I was told once, but forgot...
So I didn't win the Strategies, but I did get in the mail a copy of "The Plateaux of Mirrors" inscribed "To Joe Zitt for an inspired wrong answer -- Brian Eno". As I recall, I leapt into the air in the middle of the campus post office and tore my jeans on something... So does anyone know what the real answer was?
Shortly afterwards, Alias answered:
I know the answer but not because I did the work. When the album came out in 1977 or so I bought an English pressing that included the 4 color lithographs. About 3 years later while reading the label of an Elvis Costello album (This Year's Model - also English) I noticed on the record itself, next to the label someone had written (scratched) "Ring Moira at (some phone number) for your special prize." The contest was long over when I saw the note but the record company sent me some ugly Elvis posters. Anyway, I went through all of my other records and found that some others also had something written in the same place. On Before And After Science I found the phrase: "Arcane Benefits of Creed". I like yours better.
So there you go. Of course, there are some other anagrams of Before And After Science that make worthy contenders...
- sincere deaf benefactor
- barren oceanside effect
- barefaced frenetic enos
- frenetic seaboard fence
- beside concrete fanfare
- cabinet coffer serenade
- Feared nice benefactors
- Fine fear-based concrete
- Confident carefree base
- Fine centre-board faeces
- Face-to-face breeds inner
- Face-to-face inbred sneer
- Benefactors define care
- An infected care-free sob
- Affection braced serene
- Ascertain coffee bender
- Confident faeces bearer
- Increase bad coffee rent
- As nice coffee bartender
- In affected obscene rear
- Side effect: barren ocean
- Effect in censor-bed area
- A different obscene care
- Once crab-feed: a fit sneer
As you enjoyed those so much, here are four more in Eno's handwriting from More Dark Than Shark:
- Fade, o brief Cretan Scene
- Of Fate bred near Science
- Eno defecate: finer crab
- A bin of accented reefers
If you want other odd takes on reality, take a look at the Miscans created by our optical character recognition software in the 1990s before accuracy improved.
Q. What's this about Eno and Smells, Essences and Perfumes?
"I wondered where the name "Neroli" came from. Then a few days later I was shopping in Covent Garden and went into this Aromatherapy shop. They sell this oil (£85 per bottle!) called "Neroli". It supposed to be an anti-depressant and has a calming effect on people." (Aj.)
A number of the All Saints' Promo copies of Neroli which were originally sent out actually had a small vial of Neroli attached to them.
Eno used to (or still does) dabble with mixing fragrances, presumably in much the same way he describes making music as a metaphor for painting – mixing colors and layers of colors...