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The Living Years Hardcover – 23 Jan 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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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: 16.3 x 2.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 226,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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)

Book Description

THE FIRST EVER MEMOIR BY A MEMBER OF GENESIS

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Top Customer Reviews

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between his own career and his father's, so at the beginning of the book we get excerpts from Rutherford senior's unpublished memoirs as well.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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With Tony Banks (keyboards), Rutherford (bass and guitar) is one of the two musicians to have been in the (progressive) rock band Genesis since its inception in the late 1960s. There have been numerous books written about Genesis and its most high profile members (Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins) but this is the first autobiography to have been published.

The son of a Royal Navy Captain, Rutherford was born in 1950. He went to boarding school from a young age and it was at Charterhouse that he met the other founding members of Genesis. Though critically acclaimed (to a degree) and attracting a loyal fan-base, it wasn’t until after Gabriel and (guitarist) Steve Hackett left, leaving the band reduced to a three-piece (Banks, Rutherford & Collins) in 1978, that Genesis became the globe-straddling, 1980s-dominating behemoth that most people born before 1970 will know (and, often, either love or hate!)

Rutherford uses the father/son device interestingly in the book. After his father died in 1986, Rutherford found his father’s diaries, relating not just to his naval career but also reflection on his life in industry after leaving the navy and on his son’s career as a professional musician.

Rutherford had a parallel career with Mike & The Mechanics. One of their biggest hits was ‘The Living Years’ (1989) which addresses a son's regret over unresolved conflict with his now-deceased father.

Rutherford includes multiple extracts from his father’s diaries throughout the book and repeatedly expresses regret that the relationship with his father wasn’t deeper or warmer than it was.

Received wisdom over the years has been that Banks and Rutherford were typical public school boys – stiff upper lips, reserved, not in touch with their emotions.
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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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For a man with such a long and varied career, his autobiography looked ridiculously short when I first set eyes on it. However, Mike Rutherford writes concisely and, for the most part, without unnecessary padding or gossip. He delivers the facts without embellishment as he guides us through his life and work.

As others have said, it does occasionally feel quite wooden, as Mike himself can often appear in interviews. This, combined with his tendency to leap around in time and space with each subsequent chapter makes for a slightly jilted reading experience. The book also reveals what Rutherford himself considers to be the most interesting and important parts of his career which may not always match up to the readers opinions. As such, some topics have whole chapters dedicated to them while others, including some major events in the Genesis timeline that the reader may be fascinated by, are dismissed in a sentence or less. This however, is the nature of autobiography and we see Mike Rutherford's life through his own eyes.

In terms of what is actually dealt with in the book, fans of Genesis, Mike + the Mechanics, and even his solo work shouldn't be disappointed. Every album is addressed and each member of Genesis and M+tM are referenced and described. This makes for some very interesting revelations about Peter Gabriel about whom Mike Rutherford is very complimentary and Tony Banks of whom Rutherford paints a less flattering picture. We are given a backstage pass to some of the more bizarre incidents of his career (the aforementioned Peter Gabriel leaping from a stage, breaking his leg, and being forced to finish a show anyway being just one) and get an idea of the friendships that have been made (and broken) during several decades of his career.
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