Numan rose to prominence at the onset of the 1980s, initially with his band Tubeway Army, for electronic music exploring themes of alienation and the impersonal nature of technology. From 1978 to 1983 he was signed to upstart British label Beggars Banquet Records. His 1979 album The Pleasure Principle featured the single "Cars", that promptly became an international smash hit. Other successful chart singles at that time included "Are 'Friends' Electric?", "Down in the Park", and "We Are Glass".
Numan's career nosedived in the mid-1980s as electropop became passť and he was overtaken on the charts by such acts as Duran Duran, Culture Club, and Depeche Mode. He spent the decade in a creative malaise, trying to recapture his former chart glory with undistinguished albums stylistically derivative of artists like Robert Palmer and Prince.
During the late 1980s Numan had his life threatened on several occasions by a mysterious stalker.
In 1994, Numan re-evaluated his career and went in a harsher, more industrial direction with his songwriting on the album Sacrifice. His next two albums Exile (1997) and Pure (2000) restored Numan's critical reputation. After years of ridicule in the press, he found himself an artist respected by his peers, with such musicians as Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson proclaiming his work an influence and recording cover versions of old Numan hits. The band Basement Jaxx had a huge hit in 2002 with "Where's Your Head At?", which relied on a sample of Numan's "M.E." for its hook.
His wife, literally a member of his fan club, diagnosed him as having Asperger's syndrome. She has discussed this and how they met in at least one UK women's magazine.
In 2003, Numan enjoyed chart success once again with the single "Crazier," which went into the UK charts at #14. Later that year, he and his wife Gemma had their first child, Raven.
Numan is also known for his love of flying, and has owned several aircraft, one of which he famously crashed in 1981 while attempting a round-the-world jaunt.
As an amusing footnote, Gary Numan is 13 days older than Gary Oldman.