Born: In 1958 in Hammersmith, West London.
Sounds like: A J.G. Ballard-inspired look at humanity's dark side and our troubled relationship with technology.
For fans of: Nine Inch Nails, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, KMFDM, Pigface.
Latest release: Numan's upcoming third collaboration with producer Ade Fenton, Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind), gives a chilling spin on modern electronic music styles such as darkwave and dubstep.
Why you care: The VH1 nostalgia circuit would happily tuck Gary Numan away in a box labeled "One-Hit Wonders." While it's true that the 55-year-old musician only hit the Top 10 in the U.S. with his still-brilliant single "Cars," a reductionist take on his career is frustratingly dismissive. Numan is one of the most consistent artists to emerge from the post-punk era, generating a number of downright masterpieces—1979's The Pleasure Principle, 1980's Telekon, 1989's New Anger—and inspiring everyone from Dave Grohl and Marilyn Manson to electro-acoustic composer Terre Thaemlitz and Magnetic Fields leader Stephin Merritt. Thankfully, in recent years, Numan has begun to emerge from behind the cloud of cult: His early albums have received deluxe reissues; the experimental-rock trio Battles invited him to contribute to its Gloss Drop album; and his most famous fan, Trent Reznor, brought him out on the road with Nine Inch Nails. Luckily for Numan, the music he's been making through this period of rediscovery is fantastic, embracing a rugged, industrial-rock approach that emphasizes his spine-tingling vocals and deliberate use of synthesizers both old and new.
SEE IT: Gary Numan plays Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St., with Cold Cave, on Sunday, Sept. 1. 7:30 pm. $25 advance, $28 day of show. All ages.