Genesis


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At a Glance

Formed: 1967 (47 years ago)


Biography

The Genesis of the Seventies was a very different group from the Genesis of the Eighties and the Nineties - although not as different as some people would like to think.

Most of those who picked up on Genesis during the Eighties as their succession of hits encircled the globe had only the haziest idea of what had gone before. “In the later years there were people coming to our concerts who didn’t know I played drums,” laughs Phil Collins.

And perversely, many of those who joined the band’s fervent cult following during the first half of the Seventies fell away as their popularity ... Read more

The Genesis of the Seventies was a very different group from the Genesis of the Eighties and the Nineties - although not as different as some people would like to think.

Most of those who picked up on Genesis during the Eighties as their succession of hits encircled the globe had only the haziest idea of what had gone before. “In the later years there were people coming to our concerts who didn’t know I played drums,” laughs Phil Collins.

And perversely, many of those who joined the band’s fervent cult following during the first half of the Seventies fell away as their popularity increased. “That happens with every band once you become successful,” says Mike Rutherford philosophically. “It’s just the way it goes.”

Mike Rutherford and fellow founder member Tony Banks are the continuous link between their albums, appearing on every one. Phil Collins is missing from ‘The Knife’ and ‘Calling All Stations’ but he makes up for it in between. Indeed, the triumvirate of Banks, Collins and Rutherford was Genesis for two thirds of the band’s career.

But while the personnel changed and the music altered over 30 years, there was an attitude about Genesis that has remained constant. “I think the spirit of the way we wrote never really changed,” says Phil Collins.

Tony Banks is more specific. “We’ve always liked something to be distinctive about a song, even a simple song. There is usually an element of quirkiness about a Genesis song and that’s important to us.”

Songwriting is not just important to Genesis. It is what Genesis are about. There is not one song on their 15 studio albums that has not been written by group members. “A lot of our older fans think that Genesis should be a brand name for progressive rock or whatever,” says Phil. “But actually Genesis is the name for a group of songwriters who have always done whatever we’ve felt like doing under that banner.”

It was as a five-piece band that Genesis first made their mark in the early Seventies – with Peter Gabriel as their singer. Along with Tony Banks on keyboards, Mike Rutherford on bass and Anthony Phillips on guitar they formed the group in 1967 while they were still at Charterhouse, one of Britain’s more elite public schools.

With respect to John Silver, Chris Stewart and John Mayhew, Genesis never really had a “proper” drummer until Phil Collins joined in 1970. He arrived at the same time that guitarist Steve Hackett replaced Anthony Phillips who had unexpectedly bowed out just before their second album, ‘Trespass’, came out with its dramatic nine-minute finale, ‘The Knife’.

“I went for the job because I’d seen their name around and I knew that they were always working,” remembers Phil whose education had been more showbiz than scholarly. He’d been a child star in the Oliver musical and a crowd scene in the Beatles’ movie ‘A Hard Days Night’ as well as the drummer in the short-lived rock group Flaming Youth.

“The music was adventurous but the people were different from anybody I’d ever met,” Phil recalls. “Mike was in a smoking jacket and carpet slippers. He denies it but it’s true! I liked the music and the people involved were out of the ordinary. So I knew it would be an interesting ride.”

Over the next three albums Genesis developed an endearingly eccentric style that was musically elaborate and theatrical and lyrically surreal and occasionally macabre. “We started out as very serious, intense young men,” remembers Mike, “each of us prepared to fight our corner to the death. With five of us in the band it was difficult to accommodate everyone and there were sometimes heated arguments because we took it all so seriously.”

Tony explains the elements that went (and still go) into creating a Genesis song. “You fiddle about until you find something that’s more interesting than anything else you’re playing. And you use that as the starting point. Then you’re honing it, knocking bits off and adding others. It’s a sculpture thing.”

“The melody line is always very important. For some people it’s just the obvious thing that goes with the chords you’ve written and the feel . We tend to structure them much more. We spent a long time writing the top line of ‘The Musical Box’ for example. We all worked together to try and make it a bit special.”

‘The Musical Box’, a ten and half minute tale of murder, reincarnation and lust from their 1971 album, ‘Nursery Cryme’, became their signature tune. ‘Supper’s Ready’ from 1972’s ‘Foxtrot’ became their 23-minute tour de force. “A lot of little ideas put together to make one big idea,” as Phil puts it.

In 1974 Genesis had a close shave with the British Top 20 when the succinct but leftfield ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ peaked at Number 21. “It started out the same way as ‘Supper’s Ready’,” says Phil. “The way they all do in fact. Days and days of playing the riff, waiting to see where it goes. Some of them get developed and others are just great little doodles.”

This line-up of Genesis reached its zenith later in 1974 with ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, a dense but compelling tale of a New York punk called Rael and his odyssey into the underworld. It was a spectacular musical journey and an impressive live show. But at the end of a six-month tour of America and Europe Peter Gabriel left to pursue his own career.

The others had already decided to continue and wrote an album’s worth of songs while looking for a new singer. When they couldn’t find anyone suitable they opted for Phil who’d done a lot of back-up vocals and believed he could take on the role. ‘A Trick Of The Tail’, released in 1976, was the start of a new era, confounding the critics who’d written them off.

“People look back on that first era with a rosy glow and there was a lot of great music but we weren’t selling many records,” says Tony. “’Trick Of The Tail’ doubled our sales.” For a band who were £150,000 in debt when Peter Gabriel left this was good news financially as well as artistically.

“People tend to think of the singer as the brainchild of everything in the group which isn’t true,” says Phil. “They thought that about Peter Gabriel and they thought that about me later on in Genesis and that wasn’t true either. Which is why I get the blame for fucking up Genesis and taking them into the charts,” he adds with just a hint of irony. “I didn’t do that. We did that!”

But there was still a while to go before Phil could fuck up Genesis. In 1977, after the ‘Wind & Wuthering’ album, guitarist Steve Hackett left, feeling that he was not getting his fair share of music recorded. The others understood but that wasn’t the way Genesis operated.

For the aptly named ‘And Then There Were Three…’ album in 1978 Mike, who’d already been playing plenty of rhythm and acoustic guitar, took over all the guitar duties. And suddenly they had a hit single in Britain and America with the whimsical ‘Follow You Follow Me’.

“That song opened up a whole new audience for us,” says Tony. “We had been pigeonholed in different ways over the years but finally we’d written a song that could be played on radio. If that hadn’t happened I don’t think we’d ever have got songs like ‘Turn It On Again’ or even ‘Mama’ played on the radio because they were not obvious singles in many ways.”

For Mike, the fact that ‘Follow You Follow Me’ was a collaborative effort was just as important. “Genesis has always worked best when we all wrote together and it was stuff that we all liked. That was how we started but after Peter Gabriel left we seemed to get into individual songs for a bit.”

“After ‘Follow You Follow Me’ we started consciously writing together again. And I think that if we hadn’t started writing songs like ‘Turn It On Again’ we would have started to lose our way. Our next album, ‘Duke’, had to be good. It had to deliver.”

‘Duke’ was Genesis’ first Number One record in Britain, reaching Number 11 in America and giving them their first Top 20 single there with ‘Misunderstanding’, an auspicious songwriting debut for Phil that quickly led to his famous parallel solo career. That in turn crystallised what Genesis was actually all about.

“Once we were down to a three piece with Phil as a fully participating songwriter we started writing everything in the studio,” says Tony. “And the songs tended to be more spontaneous. It seemed to bring out the best in us, individually and collectively.”

“‘Abacab’, ‘Genesis’ and ‘Invisible Touch’ were for me a real pleasure to do,” says Mike. “It was always an adventure we faced without any preconceived ideas. It was, ‘Here we go, hope it works and let’s see which way it takes us’. And Phil’s voice had developed. He’d gone from being a drummer who sang to being a great singer.”

“Now we had solo albums for our own songs. Genesis only breathed life from the three of us working up stuff from scratch,” adds Phil. “That was very exciting. And if anything, that’s the thing I miss.”

Every time Genesis breathed life during the Eighties and early Nineties the result was a procession of hit singles (peaking with five consecutive Top 4 singles in America from the ‘Invisible Touch’ album), a trail of videos across your TV screen, a multi-million selling album and a record-breaking world tour.

“We seemed to grasp the art of writing short songs – taking a couple of bits and making them into a song,” says Mike. And Tony adds, “We weren’t afraid of songs turning out differently from how we originally thought they would. We thought ‘Land Of Confusion was going to be a lot more complicated than it turned out. It seemed to naturally hone itself down into something more simple.”

“We got really good at knowing when an idea could be milked and when enough was enough,” adds Phil. “And you couldn’t really tell who created what. A song like ‘Hold On My Heart’ might seem to be one of my romantic songs but all I did was sing along to some chords Tony was playing. The chemistry between us was kind of magical.”

But the singles charts only revealed one side of Genesis. “Because of the rise of MTV in the Eighties and the huge profile that singles have, the public perception is that we just did singles,” explains Mike. “But in fact we were still coming up with long songs like ‘Domino’, ‘Home By The Sea’ and ‘Driving The Last Spike’ which were hugely popular at our live shows.”

Inevitably the gaps between Genesis albums lengthened and in early 1996, some three years after the ‘We Can’t Dance’ album and mammoth world tour, Phil Collins announced he was leaving the band. “There were no musical differences. Far from it,” he says. “Geography pulled us apart.”

The following year Genesis – Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford plus singer Ray Wilson from the Scottish band Stiltskin – released ‘Calling All Stations’. It came together the way all Genesis albums have come together. “The title track was based on a dramatic chord sequence I had. ‘Shipwrecked’ was a looped guitar riff that was plucked from a 25-minute jam,” explains Tony.

Unusually for a band of such longevity, there is no definitive Genesis album, the way Pink Floyd have ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ or Fleetwood Mac have ‘Rumours’. Mike thinks it’s a shame, Tony thinks it depends where you came in, but Phil thinks it’s a good thing. “From my point of view the best was always to come”.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

The Genesis of the Seventies was a very different group from the Genesis of the Eighties and the Nineties - although not as different as some people would like to think.

Most of those who picked up on Genesis during the Eighties as their succession of hits encircled the globe had only the haziest idea of what had gone before. “In the later years there were people coming to our concerts who didn’t know I played drums,” laughs Phil Collins.

And perversely, many of those who joined the band’s fervent cult following during the first half of the Seventies fell away as their popularity increased. “That happens with every band once you become successful,” says Mike Rutherford philosophically. “It’s just the way it goes.”

Mike Rutherford and fellow founder member Tony Banks are the continuous link between their albums, appearing on every one. Phil Collins is missing from ‘The Knife’ and ‘Calling All Stations’ but he makes up for it in between. Indeed, the triumvirate of Banks, Collins and Rutherford was Genesis for two thirds of the band’s career.

But while the personnel changed and the music altered over 30 years, there was an attitude about Genesis that has remained constant. “I think the spirit of the way we wrote never really changed,” says Phil Collins.

Tony Banks is more specific. “We’ve always liked something to be distinctive about a song, even a simple song. There is usually an element of quirkiness about a Genesis song and that’s important to us.”

Songwriting is not just important to Genesis. It is what Genesis are about. There is not one song on their 15 studio albums that has not been written by group members. “A lot of our older fans think that Genesis should be a brand name for progressive rock or whatever,” says Phil. “But actually Genesis is the name for a group of songwriters who have always done whatever we’ve felt like doing under that banner.”

It was as a five-piece band that Genesis first made their mark in the early Seventies – with Peter Gabriel as their singer. Along with Tony Banks on keyboards, Mike Rutherford on bass and Anthony Phillips on guitar they formed the group in 1967 while they were still at Charterhouse, one of Britain’s more elite public schools.

With respect to John Silver, Chris Stewart and John Mayhew, Genesis never really had a “proper” drummer until Phil Collins joined in 1970. He arrived at the same time that guitarist Steve Hackett replaced Anthony Phillips who had unexpectedly bowed out just before their second album, ‘Trespass’, came out with its dramatic nine-minute finale, ‘The Knife’.

“I went for the job because I’d seen their name around and I knew that they were always working,” remembers Phil whose education had been more showbiz than scholarly. He’d been a child star in the Oliver musical and a crowd scene in the Beatles’ movie ‘A Hard Days Night’ as well as the drummer in the short-lived rock group Flaming Youth.

“The music was adventurous but the people were different from anybody I’d ever met,” Phil recalls. “Mike was in a smoking jacket and carpet slippers. He denies it but it’s true! I liked the music and the people involved were out of the ordinary. So I knew it would be an interesting ride.”

Over the next three albums Genesis developed an endearingly eccentric style that was musically elaborate and theatrical and lyrically surreal and occasionally macabre. “We started out as very serious, intense young men,” remembers Mike, “each of us prepared to fight our corner to the death. With five of us in the band it was difficult to accommodate everyone and there were sometimes heated arguments because we took it all so seriously.”

Tony explains the elements that went (and still go) into creating a Genesis song. “You fiddle about until you find something that’s more interesting than anything else you’re playing. And you use that as the starting point. Then you’re honing it, knocking bits off and adding others. It’s a sculpture thing.”

“The melody line is always very important. For some people it’s just the obvious thing that goes with the chords you’ve written and the feel . We tend to structure them much more. We spent a long time writing the top line of ‘The Musical Box’ for example. We all worked together to try and make it a bit special.”

‘The Musical Box’, a ten and half minute tale of murder, reincarnation and lust from their 1971 album, ‘Nursery Cryme’, became their signature tune. ‘Supper’s Ready’ from 1972’s ‘Foxtrot’ became their 23-minute tour de force. “A lot of little ideas put together to make one big idea,” as Phil puts it.

In 1974 Genesis had a close shave with the British Top 20 when the succinct but leftfield ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ peaked at Number 21. “It started out the same way as ‘Supper’s Ready’,” says Phil. “The way they all do in fact. Days and days of playing the riff, waiting to see where it goes. Some of them get developed and others are just great little doodles.”

This line-up of Genesis reached its zenith later in 1974 with ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, a dense but compelling tale of a New York punk called Rael and his odyssey into the underworld. It was a spectacular musical journey and an impressive live show. But at the end of a six-month tour of America and Europe Peter Gabriel left to pursue his own career.

The others had already decided to continue and wrote an album’s worth of songs while looking for a new singer. When they couldn’t find anyone suitable they opted for Phil who’d done a lot of back-up vocals and believed he could take on the role. ‘A Trick Of The Tail’, released in 1976, was the start of a new era, confounding the critics who’d written them off.

“People look back on that first era with a rosy glow and there was a lot of great music but we weren’t selling many records,” says Tony. “’Trick Of The Tail’ doubled our sales.” For a band who were £150,000 in debt when Peter Gabriel left this was good news financially as well as artistically.

“People tend to think of the singer as the brainchild of everything in the group which isn’t true,” says Phil. “They thought that about Peter Gabriel and they thought that about me later on in Genesis and that wasn’t true either. Which is why I get the blame for fucking up Genesis and taking them into the charts,” he adds with just a hint of irony. “I didn’t do that. We did that!”

But there was still a while to go before Phil could fuck up Genesis. In 1977, after the ‘Wind & Wuthering’ album, guitarist Steve Hackett left, feeling that he was not getting his fair share of music recorded. The others understood but that wasn’t the way Genesis operated.

For the aptly named ‘And Then There Were Three…’ album in 1978 Mike, who’d already been playing plenty of rhythm and acoustic guitar, took over all the guitar duties. And suddenly they had a hit single in Britain and America with the whimsical ‘Follow You Follow Me’.

“That song opened up a whole new audience for us,” says Tony. “We had been pigeonholed in different ways over the years but finally we’d written a song that could be played on radio. If that hadn’t happened I don’t think we’d ever have got songs like ‘Turn It On Again’ or even ‘Mama’ played on the radio because they were not obvious singles in many ways.”

For Mike, the fact that ‘Follow You Follow Me’ was a collaborative effort was just as important. “Genesis has always worked best when we all wrote together and it was stuff that we all liked. That was how we started but after Peter Gabriel left we seemed to get into individual songs for a bit.”

“After ‘Follow You Follow Me’ we started consciously writing together again. And I think that if we hadn’t started writing songs like ‘Turn It On Again’ we would have started to lose our way. Our next album, ‘Duke’, had to be good. It had to deliver.”

‘Duke’ was Genesis’ first Number One record in Britain, reaching Number 11 in America and giving them their first Top 20 single there with ‘Misunderstanding’, an auspicious songwriting debut for Phil that quickly led to his famous parallel solo career. That in turn crystallised what Genesis was actually all about.

“Once we were down to a three piece with Phil as a fully participating songwriter we started writing everything in the studio,” says Tony. “And the songs tended to be more spontaneous. It seemed to bring out the best in us, individually and collectively.”

“‘Abacab’, ‘Genesis’ and ‘Invisible Touch’ were for me a real pleasure to do,” says Mike. “It was always an adventure we faced without any preconceived ideas. It was, ‘Here we go, hope it works and let’s see which way it takes us’. And Phil’s voice had developed. He’d gone from being a drummer who sang to being a great singer.”

“Now we had solo albums for our own songs. Genesis only breathed life from the three of us working up stuff from scratch,” adds Phil. “That was very exciting. And if anything, that’s the thing I miss.”

Every time Genesis breathed life during the Eighties and early Nineties the result was a procession of hit singles (peaking with five consecutive Top 4 singles in America from the ‘Invisible Touch’ album), a trail of videos across your TV screen, a multi-million selling album and a record-breaking world tour.

“We seemed to grasp the art of writing short songs – taking a couple of bits and making them into a song,” says Mike. And Tony adds, “We weren’t afraid of songs turning out differently from how we originally thought they would. We thought ‘Land Of Confusion was going to be a lot more complicated than it turned out. It seemed to naturally hone itself down into something more simple.”

“We got really good at knowing when an idea could be milked and when enough was enough,” adds Phil. “And you couldn’t really tell who created what. A song like ‘Hold On My Heart’ might seem to be one of my romantic songs but all I did was sing along to some chords Tony was playing. The chemistry between us was kind of magical.”

But the singles charts only revealed one side of Genesis. “Because of the rise of MTV in the Eighties and the huge profile that singles have, the public perception is that we just did singles,” explains Mike. “But in fact we were still coming up with long songs like ‘Domino’, ‘Home By The Sea’ and ‘Driving The Last Spike’ which were hugely popular at our live shows.”

Inevitably the gaps between Genesis albums lengthened and in early 1996, some three years after the ‘We Can’t Dance’ album and mammoth world tour, Phil Collins announced he was leaving the band. “There were no musical differences. Far from it,” he says. “Geography pulled us apart.”

The following year Genesis – Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford plus singer Ray Wilson from the Scottish band Stiltskin – released ‘Calling All Stations’. It came together the way all Genesis albums have come together. “The title track was based on a dramatic chord sequence I had. ‘Shipwrecked’ was a looped guitar riff that was plucked from a 25-minute jam,” explains Tony.

Unusually for a band of such longevity, there is no definitive Genesis album, the way Pink Floyd have ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ or Fleetwood Mac have ‘Rumours’. Mike thinks it’s a shame, Tony thinks it depends where you came in, but Phil thinks it’s a good thing. “From my point of view the best was always to come”.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

The Genesis of the Seventies was a very different group from the Genesis of the Eighties and the Nineties - although not as different as some people would like to think.

Most of those who picked up on Genesis during the Eighties as their succession of hits encircled the globe had only the haziest idea of what had gone before. “In the later years there were people coming to our concerts who didn’t know I played drums,” laughs Phil Collins.

And perversely, many of those who joined the band’s fervent cult following during the first half of the Seventies fell away as their popularity increased. “That happens with every band once you become successful,” says Mike Rutherford philosophically. “It’s just the way it goes.”

Mike Rutherford and fellow founder member Tony Banks are the continuous link between their albums, appearing on every one. Phil Collins is missing from ‘The Knife’ and ‘Calling All Stations’ but he makes up for it in between. Indeed, the triumvirate of Banks, Collins and Rutherford was Genesis for two thirds of the band’s career.

But while the personnel changed and the music altered over 30 years, there was an attitude about Genesis that has remained constant. “I think the spirit of the way we wrote never really changed,” says Phil Collins.

Tony Banks is more specific. “We’ve always liked something to be distinctive about a song, even a simple song. There is usually an element of quirkiness about a Genesis song and that’s important to us.”

Songwriting is not just important to Genesis. It is what Genesis are about. There is not one song on their 15 studio albums that has not been written by group members. “A lot of our older fans think that Genesis should be a brand name for progressive rock or whatever,” says Phil. “But actually Genesis is the name for a group of songwriters who have always done whatever we’ve felt like doing under that banner.”

It was as a five-piece band that Genesis first made their mark in the early Seventies – with Peter Gabriel as their singer. Along with Tony Banks on keyboards, Mike Rutherford on bass and Anthony Phillips on guitar they formed the group in 1967 while they were still at Charterhouse, one of Britain’s more elite public schools.

With respect to John Silver, Chris Stewart and John Mayhew, Genesis never really had a “proper” drummer until Phil Collins joined in 1970. He arrived at the same time that guitarist Steve Hackett replaced Anthony Phillips who had unexpectedly bowed out just before their second album, ‘Trespass’, came out with its dramatic nine-minute finale, ‘The Knife’.

“I went for the job because I’d seen their name around and I knew that they were always working,” remembers Phil whose education had been more showbiz than scholarly. He’d been a child star in the Oliver musical and a crowd scene in the Beatles’ movie ‘A Hard Days Night’ as well as the drummer in the short-lived rock group Flaming Youth.

“The music was adventurous but the people were different from anybody I’d ever met,” Phil recalls. “Mike was in a smoking jacket and carpet slippers. He denies it but it’s true! I liked the music and the people involved were out of the ordinary. So I knew it would be an interesting ride.”

Over the next three albums Genesis developed an endearingly eccentric style that was musically elaborate and theatrical and lyrically surreal and occasionally macabre. “We started out as very serious, intense young men,” remembers Mike, “each of us prepared to fight our corner to the death. With five of us in the band it was difficult to accommodate everyone and there were sometimes heated arguments because we took it all so seriously.”

Tony explains the elements that went (and still go) into creating a Genesis song. “You fiddle about until you find something that’s more interesting than anything else you’re playing. And you use that as the starting point. Then you’re honing it, knocking bits off and adding others. It’s a sculpture thing.”

“The melody line is always very important. For some people it’s just the obvious thing that goes with the chords you’ve written and the feel . We tend to structure them much more. We spent a long time writing the top line of ‘The Musical Box’ for example. We all worked together to try and make it a bit special.”

‘The Musical Box’, a ten and half minute tale of murder, reincarnation and lust from their 1971 album, ‘Nursery Cryme’, became their signature tune. ‘Supper’s Ready’ from 1972’s ‘Foxtrot’ became their 23-minute tour de force. “A lot of little ideas put together to make one big idea,” as Phil puts it.

In 1974 Genesis had a close shave with the British Top 20 when the succinct but leftfield ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ peaked at Number 21. “It started out the same way as ‘Supper’s Ready’,” says Phil. “The way they all do in fact. Days and days of playing the riff, waiting to see where it goes. Some of them get developed and others are just great little doodles.”

This line-up of Genesis reached its zenith later in 1974 with ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, a dense but compelling tale of a New York punk called Rael and his odyssey into the underworld. It was a spectacular musical journey and an impressive live show. But at the end of a six-month tour of America and Europe Peter Gabriel left to pursue his own career.

The others had already decided to continue and wrote an album’s worth of songs while looking for a new singer. When they couldn’t find anyone suitable they opted for Phil who’d done a lot of back-up vocals and believed he could take on the role. ‘A Trick Of The Tail’, released in 1976, was the start of a new era, confounding the critics who’d written them off.

“People look back on that first era with a rosy glow and there was a lot of great music but we weren’t selling many records,” says Tony. “’Trick Of The Tail’ doubled our sales.” For a band who were £150,000 in debt when Peter Gabriel left this was good news financially as well as artistically.

“People tend to think of the singer as the brainchild of everything in the group which isn’t true,” says Phil. “They thought that about Peter Gabriel and they thought that about me later on in Genesis and that wasn’t true either. Which is why I get the blame for fucking up Genesis and taking them into the charts,” he adds with just a hint of irony. “I didn’t do that. We did that!”

But there was still a while to go before Phil could fuck up Genesis. In 1977, after the ‘Wind & Wuthering’ album, guitarist Steve Hackett left, feeling that he was not getting his fair share of music recorded. The others understood but that wasn’t the way Genesis operated.

For the aptly named ‘And Then There Were Three…’ album in 1978 Mike, who’d already been playing plenty of rhythm and acoustic guitar, took over all the guitar duties. And suddenly they had a hit single in Britain and America with the whimsical ‘Follow You Follow Me’.

“That song opened up a whole new audience for us,” says Tony. “We had been pigeonholed in different ways over the years but finally we’d written a song that could be played on radio. If that hadn’t happened I don’t think we’d ever have got songs like ‘Turn It On Again’ or even ‘Mama’ played on the radio because they were not obvious singles in many ways.”

For Mike, the fact that ‘Follow You Follow Me’ was a collaborative effort was just as important. “Genesis has always worked best when we all wrote together and it was stuff that we all liked. That was how we started but after Peter Gabriel left we seemed to get into individual songs for a bit.”

“After ‘Follow You Follow Me’ we started consciously writing together again. And I think that if we hadn’t started writing songs like ‘Turn It On Again’ we would have started to lose our way. Our next album, ‘Duke’, had to be good. It had to deliver.”

‘Duke’ was Genesis’ first Number One record in Britain, reaching Number 11 in America and giving them their first Top 20 single there with ‘Misunderstanding’, an auspicious songwriting debut for Phil that quickly led to his famous parallel solo career. That in turn crystallised what Genesis was actually all about.

“Once we were down to a three piece with Phil as a fully participating songwriter we started writing everything in the studio,” says Tony. “And the songs tended to be more spontaneous. It seemed to bring out the best in us, individually and collectively.”

“‘Abacab’, ‘Genesis’ and ‘Invisible Touch’ were for me a real pleasure to do,” says Mike. “It was always an adventure we faced without any preconceived ideas. It was, ‘Here we go, hope it works and let’s see which way it takes us’. And Phil’s voice had developed. He’d gone from being a drummer who sang to being a great singer.”

“Now we had solo albums for our own songs. Genesis only breathed life from the three of us working up stuff from scratch,” adds Phil. “That was very exciting. And if anything, that’s the thing I miss.”

Every time Genesis breathed life during the Eighties and early Nineties the result was a procession of hit singles (peaking with five consecutive Top 4 singles in America from the ‘Invisible Touch’ album), a trail of videos across your TV screen, a multi-million selling album and a record-breaking world tour.

“We seemed to grasp the art of writing short songs – taking a couple of bits and making them into a song,” says Mike. And Tony adds, “We weren’t afraid of songs turning out differently from how we originally thought they would. We thought ‘Land Of Confusion was going to be a lot more complicated than it turned out. It seemed to naturally hone itself down into something more simple.”

“We got really good at knowing when an idea could be milked and when enough was enough,” adds Phil. “And you couldn’t really tell who created what. A song like ‘Hold On My Heart’ might seem to be one of my romantic songs but all I did was sing along to some chords Tony was playing. The chemistry between us was kind of magical.”

But the singles charts only revealed one side of Genesis. “Because of the rise of MTV in the Eighties and the huge profile that singles have, the public perception is that we just did singles,” explains Mike. “But in fact we were still coming up with long songs like ‘Domino’, ‘Home By The Sea’ and ‘Driving The Last Spike’ which were hugely popular at our live shows.”

Inevitably the gaps between Genesis albums lengthened and in early 1996, some three years after the ‘We Can’t Dance’ album and mammoth world tour, Phil Collins announced he was leaving the band. “There were no musical differences. Far from it,” he says. “Geography pulled us apart.”

The following year Genesis – Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford plus singer Ray Wilson from the Scottish band Stiltskin – released ‘Calling All Stations’. It came together the way all Genesis albums have come together. “The title track was based on a dramatic chord sequence I had. ‘Shipwrecked’ was a looped guitar riff that was plucked from a 25-minute jam,” explains Tony.

Unusually for a band of such longevity, there is no definitive Genesis album, the way Pink Floyd have ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ or Fleetwood Mac have ‘Rumours’. Mike thinks it’s a shame, Tony thinks it depends where you came in, but Phil thinks it’s a good thing. “From my point of view the best was always to come”.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Genesis At Wembley

Genesis: Live At Wembley Stadium features fifteen classic tracks, including "Invisible Touch", "Abacab" and "Mama". The DVD includes a tour documentary, photo library and tour programme sections.
Our Price: 7.64

Genesis Live

Genesis Live was recorded during the group's 1973 peak, and features fans' favourite lineup. The flawless song selection favours tunes from beloved albums, with the semi-baroque keyboards of Banks and the dynamic of Hackett displayed in all their glory. This is the Genesis concert album with which to start.
Our Price: 4.90

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