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The Living Years [Hardcover]

Mike Rutherford
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 13.60 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

23 Jan 2014

"Now Michael, you're the son of a naval officer, you must behave like a naval officer at all times..."

What Captain William Rutherford told his seven-year-old son Michael was to stay with him all his life.

Born in 1950, Michael was truly his father's son, even serving in the naval section of the student cadet corps at one of England's top public schools, Charterhouse. Mike's future lay in the civil service: it was a subject that he discussed with his father at Captain Crawford's gentlemen's club. But then something happened. Mike discovered rock music.

As one of the founder members of Genesis, Mike was to tour the world and achieve international fame. From unpromising beginnings - demonised by his teachers as a fomenter of revolution, driving to gigs in a bread van - Mike would go on to crisscross the globe with bandmates Peter Gabriel and, later, Phil Collins, playing to packed-out stadiums and achieving record sales of over 150 million. Swapping old school ties and Savile Row suits for flares and Afghan coats, Mike and Genesis would pioneer the pomp and theatricality of 1970s progressive rock before becoming household names in the 1980s with hits like Turn It On Again, Mama and Land of Confusion. There was drink, there were drugs; there were arguments and excess. But, in the background - and sometimes in the audience - there was also the loyal Captain Rutherford, earplugs at the ready, Melody Maker in hand. A proud father still.

The Living Years spans the entire history of Genesis, from the earliest days as a school band to the triumphant 2007 reunion tour when Genesis played to over 500,000 people in Rome. But this is not just another rock'n'roll memoir. This is also a book about two men whose lives and complex relationship reflect the seismic social and cultural shifts that took place during the twentieth century. A book for every father and son.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (23 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1472109813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1472109811
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A brisk, wryly humorous trawl through his life in music... [and] a further attempt to explore the relationship between Rutherford and his late father, a high ranking naval officer who clearly loved his family but found it all but impossible to express it. (Glasgow Herald)

As much a family saga as a rock autobiography... The result is a very different kind of rock memoir - moving and refreshing. (Mail on Sunday)

Rutherford tells the story of his mildly subversive schooldays and the 40 years of his high-flying career in a mellow, forgiving style that celebrates love of family, loyalty to friendship, passion for music, and-in his father's tradition -devotion to duty. (The Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great memoir, but also a missed opportunity 26 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
For dyed-in-the-wool Genesis fans this book is a must-read: the first memoir by one of only two of the band's members who've been there since the very beginning. However, for the casual Genesis or Mike + The Mechanics fan, there really isn't much which hasn't been dealt with in more depth in other biographies. As a genre, the autobiography tends to succeed depending on how controversial it is. While there is the occasional surprising revelation in The Living Years, there are very few indiscretions.

The most entertaining aspect is of course the first-person immediacy; reading about events in Genesis's history from someone who was there, whereas until now Genesis fans have had to make do with third-person biographies (the most thorough being 2007's Chapter and Verse). But Rutherford's life is not only about the music. His father was a captain in the Royal Navy who saw action during World War Two. Interestingly, Rutherford junior draws parallels between his own career and his father's, so at the beginning of the book we get excerpts from Rutherford senior's unpublished memoirs as well.

This is a highly enjoyable literary device which, unfortunately, only lasts for around the first third of the book. Once Rutherford junior has joined Genesis, the emphasis is very much on the band, and the author proceeds chronologically through the Genesis discography until his father passes away in 1986, when Rutherford was in the middle of the Invisible Touch tour. Afterwards, he goes through Mike + The Mechanics very quickly, and 2007's Turn It On Again tour is also not dealt with in any depth.

I can't help feeling that this memoir should have been substantially longer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for any Genesis fan 20 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Illuminating biography which highlights some personal details that were previously unknown to me. As a serious Genesis fan this was a wonderful read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Being a huge fan of Genesis I read this book very quickly. Whilst I found the parallels of Mike's life with that of his father an interesting and at times moving chronicle, I would have liked more detail and reflection on his musical career. Whilst the early Genesis career is covered in some detail, there are still gaps in the story. The later career is glossed over fairly quickly. Mike is such a likeable guy with a very balanced view of life that the book is unsurprising. We know Mike, Phil and Tony are still very close and as such we don't expect there to be any bombshells, but I would have liked a little more of Mike's assessment of their musical output than we get here. But, to be fair, I don't think that is what Mike intended with this book. It is essentially a collection of anecdotes in the frame of a cross-generational comparison fueled by the desire to give a voice to his father. The stark comparisons of a disciplined naval career and an exploratory and creative music career gives the book its purpose. As such it is entertaining, highly readable and at times poignant. But for those, like myself, looking for more insight into the Genesis machine, they may have to wait for Phil's oft-promised biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read for all Genesis/Gabriel fans 30 April 2014
By Dunning
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written, humorous and moving, this enjoyable book gives a great insight into Mike's exciting life and his time with Genesis and Mike & The Mechanics. It is no surprise that he has ended up as one of the wealthiest men in England and what I find so pleasing is that his family is the most important thing in his life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential, but ultimately disappointing 1 April 2014
By Dave
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a Genesis fan for 35 years I had to get this book and I enjoyed the behind the scenes info on the band and the music but there just wasn't enough of it. I enjoyed all the details about the early years but then it seemed the typical scenario occurred: deadlines loom, author gets slightly bored with the whole thing (Mike hardly needs the money) and it starts to rush, then the last 30 years are covered at a pace and whole albums get one or 2 lines. I wanted much more detail about the music but Mike seems bored with his own canon. Only Genesis fans will want this book after all, and we want detail! The premise of the book was interesting but again this peters out from about halfway through. It was as though the book started off twice as long but some editor got rid of 70% of the second half of it. This is ultimately a good review as I really enjoyed reading it but was just sad when it ended so soon and with the later years covered in a massive hurry. However for the price of 3 beers, you get great value really and I really enjoyed it, so BUY! 4 stars only because of shortness of the book. Dave
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mike Rutherford 18 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the life of Mike, it is very enlightening and seems to live up to expectations. Good read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Amusing 3 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Amusing and well written and an interesting approach compared with the usual autobiography. A good story to tell. Well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From Dad to Genesis 26 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the band history and reading about the circumstances surrounding member changes and recording over the years I struggled with Rutherford's concept of juxtaposing his father's anecdotes and memories with those of his own. As described in the lyrics of the classic 'The Living Years' the relationship with his father was somewhat distant (if respectful) , whereas the relationship with his Genesis cohorts was a lot closer. Perhaps the two stories should have been told in different books.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read.A++++
Published 6 days ago by john allan
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read.
A good read - to say the least. He is honest and clear in his memories of the main events of his [and the band's] life and fortunes. Read more
Published 6 days ago by MJP
5.0 out of 5 stars Genesis from the inside
If you like Genesis you will like this book.
Published 21 days ago by gary hurley
2.0 out of 5 stars Feedback
Enjoyed the connection and parallels with his fathers life,interested in his early and educational memories which were well penned, intrigued by genesis start up, but felt like... Read more
Published 1 month ago by sheila wright
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmmm
Really liked the idea of the parallel story but this seems to get a bit forgotten part way through. Its a good read but it can't make up its mind if its for fans or general reading
Published 1 month ago by gary smith
4.0 out of 5 stars The Living Years
Had been taken to see Mike Rutherford in concert and it was a nice thank you gift for the person who took me.
Published 2 months ago by J. Radley
4.0 out of 5 stars A Trick Of The Tale
I bought this book for my husbands birthday, so over to him.
This is a must for all Genesis/Mike and the Mechanics fans. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mrs J Wickenden
5.0 out of 5 stars A very original approach
This is an excellent autobiography, not dwelling like so many on personal grandeur but revealing the human side of what is actually a fairly remarkable story. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. R. Shorrick
5.0 out of 5 stars very interesting.
thoroughly enjoyable book. learnt loads of facts.if like me you liked mike and the macanics this makes for a great read.
Published 3 months ago by kim norman
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Mike Rutherford is the only rock star I have ever met. At the time (over 25 years ago), I was working in a record shop in Guildford and sold a few CDs to him. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Bacchus
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