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Na adolescência aprendeu violão, guitarra e bandolim. Foi guitarrista do grupo Novos Baianos na década de 70 e partiu para a carreira individual com o final do grupo, por volta de 1978. É desse ano o primeiro LP solo, "Geração de Som", totalmente instrumental. Na companhia da mulher, a cantora Baby Consuelo (depois Baby do Brasil), virou um ícone de roqueiro nos anos 80, época em que passou a cantar também. Nessa fase, o maior sucesso foi "Masculino e Feminino", disco gravado nos Estados Unidos cuja faixa-título foi muito executada pelas rádios. No final da década de 80 voltou-se para a música instrumental, participando de festivais de jazz e lançando, em 1989, "Instrumental On The Road". Nos anos 90 dedicou-se mais a seu trabalho como guitarrista, relendo velhos sucessos como os chorinhos "Brasileirinho" (Waldir Azevedo) e "Noites Cariocas" (Jacob do Bandolim), presentes no início de sua carreira e que fizeram sua fama de virtuose. Também enveredou por um estilo mais pop, com o lançamento de "Meu Coração" em 1999.
Pepeu Gomes is a virtuoso guitarist/mandolinist who had noted participation in the '70s revival of choro in the band Os Novos Baianos. His solo career has been troubled by the hardships that prevent instrumental musicians in Brazil from developing their discoveries, but his recorded material is enough to make clear his uncanny, creative talent.
Coming from a family of musicians, Pepeu Gomes had nine brothers, including the drummer/cavaquinista/guitarist/composer Jorginho Gomes and Carlinhos Gomes. Among his earliest influences figures the pau elétrico — the seminal Brazilian electric guitar invented by Dodô in 1941, in Salvador, BA. Gomes formed his first group at 11, the Cats, together with a variable number of brothers. Under the name Os Minos, sponsored by a clothing factory, they recorded a single for Copacabana and played in São Paulo, on the TV shows of Eduardo Araújo and Ed Carlos.
In 1968, he became strongly influenced by Jimi Hendrix and formed the professional group Os Leifs with brothers Jorginho and Carlinhos and his friend, Lico. In early 1969, Gilberto Gil, just freed from imprisonment, was preparing a farewell show with Caetano Veloso, as they were sentenced to exile, when Gil saw Pepeu Gomes on TV. Immediately taken by Gomes' virtuosic interpretation, Gil invited him, with Os Leifs, to accompany him and Caetano Veloso on their Barra 69 show. Os Novos Baianos, who was until then an unknown group formed by Moraes Moreira, Galvão, Paulinho Boca de Cantor, and Baby Consuelo (today Baby do Brasil), saw Os Leifs at Barra 69 and proposed that they play together due to their strong instrumental background. So, Os Leifs joined Os Novos Baianos in their opening in the Southeast with the show Desembarque Dos Bichos Depois do Dilúvio in 1969, after the presentation of the same show in Salvador, BA, the previous year. This was followed by the first Os Novos Baianos LP, Ferro Na Boneca.
Gomes then departed from Os Leifs and joined the Enigmas, accompanying them to Rio for a long underground season with Os Novos Baianos at the Cimento Armado, soon to be the Teatro Tereza Raquel. In 1972, after a stint with João Gilberto the previous year, Os Novos Baianos and Gomes discovered the importance of researching their Brazilian roots, resulting in the recording of the anthological album Acabou Chorare (Som Livre). The solo in "Tinindo Trincando" is a result of that search for a genuine Brazilian guitar solo and the beginning of the elaboration of Gomes' own personal style. The album, mixing the group's heavily countercultural looks and philosophy with a modern synthesis between rock and the traditional choro, contributed to the revival of the Brazilian genre in the '70s, bringing many youngsters into its ranks.
Continuing to work with Os Novos Baianos, Gomes led the trio A Cor do Som, formed initially by his brother, Jorginho, on guitar and friend, Dadi Carvalho, on bass. In 1978, Gomes recorded his first solo album, Geração do Som, with a peculiar blend of choro, samba, frevo, and rock. The cover of the album presents his invention, the guibando, a two-fretboard instrument that combined an electric guitar and a mandolin. The instrument amazed John McLaughlin when Gomes accompanied Gilberto Gil at the Montreux Festival (Switzerland).