Sledgehammer facts

Sledgehammer was Peter Gabriel’s most successful single. In this blog we’ll look at some facts you may not know about the track.

Sledgehammer spent 18 weeks on the UK chart, peaking at number 4. It was a top ten hit in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland. It reached number 1 in the USA and Canada and knocked Genesis’ single Invisible Touch off the top of the American charts.


Nick Park, famous for his Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit films, provided some of the stop-motion animation in the video for the song.


The video for Sledgehammer is the fourth most played in the history of MTV.


Jeff Ayeroff of Geffen records, Gabriel’s label in the USA hated the song saying “I hated the song, I thought it was just another white boy trying to sound black”


The lyrics of the song are dripping in phallic imagery, mainly taken from old blues records that Gabriel listened to in his youth.


The song was Peter Gabriel’s first US number 1


Gabriel sent a cease and desist letter to far-right American radio show host Rush Limbaugh after he played the song during a personal attack on women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke. He described her as “a slut” in the segment.


The video version is 17 seconds longer than the recorded version. This is due to an improvised flute solo being added.


The song was produced by Daniel Lanois. Lanois has won 11 Grammy awards.


The video won 9 awards at the MTV Music Video Awards in 1987. These were:

  • Video of the year
  • Best male video
  • Best concept video
  • Most experimental video
  • Best overall performance
  • Best direction
  • Best visual effects
  • Best art direction
  • Best editing

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