One of the most successful bands to ever grace a Rock and Roll stage, Genesis has enjoyed a longevity that rivals that of The Rolling Stones. Their recording career
spanned over three decades and saw them place seventeen songs on the Billboard Top 40 chart.
The group's roots can be traced back to the school days of it's key members who attended Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey. A pair of fifteen year old friends,
Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks played in a band called Garden Wall, while fellow students Michael Rutherford and Anthony Phillips were members of a group called
Anon. As older members of each ensemble graduated, those who were left decided to join forces. Gabriel, Banks, Rutherford and Phillips added drummer Chris
Stewart to form the New Anon and recorded a demo of half a dozen songs primarily written by Phillips and Rutherford. A former Charterhouse student named Jonathan
King, who had become a successful producer and recording artist ("Everyone's Gone To The Moon" in 1965), had arranged a concert at Charterhouse while the band was
still in school. Following the show, Gabriel handed King the tape. He was impressed with their potential and arranged some studio time for the group. After first suggesting
a name change to Gabriel's Angels, King proposed another moniker; Genesis. He would later recall that "it suggested the beginning of a new sound and a new
In December 1967, the quintet began their first formal recording sessions and a song called "The Silent Sun" was chosen for their debut single. Released on Decca in
February, 1968, the record failed to gain any attention and a second effort, "A Winter's Tale" met a similar fate. At this point, Chris Stewart quit and was replaced by John
Silver just before Genesis began laying down tracks for their first album. In an effort to attain a Moody Blues type sound, Jonathan King added orchestral accompaniment
and the result was released as "From Genesis to Revelation" in March of 1969. The title proved unfortunate as record stores relegated the disc to the Religious section
where it went mostly ignored. Throughout the years, King has held on to the rights to the songs on that initial album and has re-released it many times under a variety of
names, including "In the Beginning", "Where the Sour Turns to Sweet", "Rock Roots: Genesis", "And the Word Was" and "The Genesis of Genesis".
After this set-back, King wished the band well and sent them on their way. Undaunted, they continued to rehearse, write and play with great frequency. At one of their
many shows, they came to the attention of the head of Charisma Records, Tony Stratton-Smith, who signed them to his label. Replacing John Silver on drums with John
Mayhew, Genesis recorded a set of carefully chosen songs which would form their second LP, "Trespass". Although it was also a commercial failure, the album proved to
be an important stepping stone in the band's career. Following its completion, Anthony Phillips, who suffered from severe stage fright, dropped out. The rest of Genesis
decided that they also needed a better drummer and John Mayhew was replaced with a former member of Flaming Youth, Phil Collins. For a while, they appeared
as a quartet. A guitarist named Mick Barnard came on board for a brief time, but didn't last. After a long search for a replacement, the ex-guitarist of Quiet World,
Steve Hackett proved to be the right man for the job. The two new members brought an edgier sound into the band that showed up on their Autumn 1971 album, "Nursery
Although Charisma Records put little effort into promoting the LP, "Nursery Cryme" sold well in Italy and Belgium, leading Genesis to tour outside of the UK for the first
time. The album featured the epic "The Musical Box" and Phil Collin's first lead vocal performance, "For Absent Friends". Peter Gabriel's increasingly wild hair-dos,
make-up, masks and costumes brought both high attendance at their shows and the attention of the press.
In October, 1972, Genesis released their fourth album, "Foxtrot", which many fans consider a landmark in their career. Containing one of their most accomplished works to
date, the twenty-three minute "Supper's Ready" along with "Watcher of the Skies", enhanced their reputation as songwriters and performers. Songs recorded during the
"Foxtrot" promotional tour were issued as a live album in 1973.
Later that same year, the LP "Selling England by the Pound", was issued. The album's title, a reference to a current Labour Party slogan, was suggested by Peter Gabriel
in an effort to silence critics who said that the band was becoming too US oriented. This collection contained Genesis' first legitimate hit single, "I Know What I Like" (In
Your Wardrobe), which reached #17 on the UK chart. The release was followed by extensive tours through Europe, the United States and Canada.
November, 1974 brought a double disc concept LP called "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", which showed a clear departure from the lengthy tracks that appeared on
earlier albums. The shorter songs, which were connected by a number of segues, outlined the spiritual journey of Rael, a Puerto Rican youth living in New York City and his
quest to gain his freedom. During his adventure, Rael encounters several bizarre characters, including the Slippermen and The Lamia, the latter being borrowed from Greek
mythology and influenced by a poem by Keats. During the promotional tour, the band performed the album in its entirety and only brought out earlier material during
encores. The enormous effort used to perform the show, which featured lasers and light effects, strained relations between band members, particularly Tony Banks and
Peter Gabriel, who had combined to write most of the album's content. During the tour, Gabriel announced his intentions to leave Genesis, citing the strains of family life
and his rocky relationships with other band members. His time with the band ended anti-climactically with a cancelled show at Besancon, France. Gabriel's first
eponymously titled solo album was released in 1977 and became a moderate success due to the single "Solsbury Hill", an allegory that refers to his departure from the
The rest of Genesis vowed to soldier on and began auditioning lead singers. Phil Collins, who had provided backing vocals, coached some of the prospective replacements.
In the end, the band decided that they needed to look no further than their long-time drummer and Collins took over lead vocal duties for 1976's "A Trick of the Tail". The
album was well received by fans and critics alike and outsold all previous efforts combined. Some reviewers wrote that Collins sounded "more like Gabriel than Gabriel did".
Although the band had proved that they could achieve recording success as a quartet, live shows would now lack Gabriel's elaborate costume changes and dramatic
showmanship. Collins decided that he would need a second drummer while he sang and former King Crimson and Yes drummer Bill Bruford was brought onboard for the
1976 tour, which kicked off on March 26 in London, Ontario Canada. Later that same year, the band retreated to the Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek in the Netherlands to
record what would become an album called "Wind & Wuthering", which continued in the style that Genesis fans had come to expect. For the 1977 tour that supported the
LP, Chester Thompson, formerly with Frank Zappa, sat behind the drums. Material taken mainly from this tour provided enough tracks for a 'live', double disc album called
"Seconds Out", to be released in October, 1977. A critical and commercial success, the album hit #4 in the UK and #47 in the US, where their popularity was still gaining
In mid-year, having already established the roots of a solo career with the 1975 release of an album called "Voyage Of The Acolyte", guitarist Steve Hackett decided that he
was not prepared to compromise his musical ideas with other members of the band and quit Genesis. The remaining trio of Banks, Collins and Rutherford began recording
their next studio effort that was appropriately called "And Then There Were Three", released in March, 1978. The LP was a solid success on both sides of the Atlantic,
reaching #3 on the UK album chart and #14 on the Billboard Hot 200. It also contained the band's breakthrough single in the US, "Follow You, Follow Me", which topped
out at #23. The album went Gold almost immediately and eventually attained Platinum status. The ensuing tour was augmented with guitarist Daryl Stuermer, formerly with
the Jean-Luc Ponty band. As the shows grew larger and the tours became longer, life on the road began to wear on Phil Collins, who was forced to choose between his
family life and Rock and Roll. It was time to take a break.
Banks and Rutherford used their free time in 1979 to attempt solo albums, while Collins recorded with the fusion combo Brand X, with whom he had been working on and off
since the mid-70s. When efforts to save his marriage to wife Andrea Bertorelli failed, Collins returned to the UK in August and found himself at loose ends while Banks and
Rutherford were still working on their individual projects. Immersing himself in his home recording studio, Collins laid down a series of demos that would become another
solo album. He also saved a couple of songs for the upcoming Genesis sessions. The results of the reunion was a 1980 album called "Duke", which showed a definite
transition from the Progressive Rock sound of the '70s to the 1980s Pop era. It was well received by media and record buyers alike and became the band's first UK number
one album. In the US it reached #11, while a single taken from it called "Misunderstanding" climbed to #14. In February, 1981, Collins released his solo album, "Face
Value". A single pulled from it, "In The Air Tonight" reached #2 in the UK and #19 on the Billboard chart, establishing Collins as an international recording star.
Work on Genesis' next album took place at the band's newly built studio at Fisher Lane Farm in Chiddingfold, Surrey, England. Initially formed by a cowshed located
beside a cottage, it soon became known to all who used it as simply, The Farm. The collection of songs recorded here, which featured a collaboration with the Earth, Wind
and Fire horn section on the track "No Reply at All", would be released as an album called "Abacab". The LP marked further change away from the band's earlier style and
received mixed reviews from critics, but earned them an even larger fan following. The album hit #1 in the UK and #7 in the US, selling several million copies and became
the band's first Platinum album in the US. The effort spawned two chart singles in America, "No Reply At All", which reached #29 and "Abacab" which went to #26. The
album used a forceful drum technique in which an effect called gated reverb, an artificially reverberated sound is relayed through a noise gate set, which rapidly cuts off
when a particular volume threshold is reached. This drum sound would become an audio trademark of future Genesis and Collins albums.
In 1982, the band released the live double album "Three Sides Live", which took its name from the fact that the US version contains three sides of live material in addition to
a side of studio recordings. In the UK and the rest of Europe, the studio material was replaced by a fourth side of live recordings from previous tours. It reached #2 in the UK
and #10 in the US. A studio recorded single called "Paperlate" reached #32 on the Billboard chart. At the years end, a one-off reunion with Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett
took place at The Bowl in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England to help raise money for Gabriel's WOMAD project (World of Music, Arts and Dance), which at the time
was suffering from considerable financial hardship.
1983's album, again called simply "Genesis", became their third consecutive number one album in the UK. It included the single "Mama", the band's biggest commercial
success in the UK, reaching #4, but was less popular in the US, where it stalled at #73. A second single called "That's All" faired much better Stateside, rising to #6 and
was also a hit in the UK, hitting #16. The LP also re-introduced the band's flair for lengthy pieces in "Home by the Sea". The track "Just a Job to Do" was later used as the
theme song for the 1985's ABC detective drama The Insiders.
The interval between Genesis releases grew longer when Collins’ solo career took up more and more of his time. He enjoyed a long string of hits in America, including
"Against All Odds" (#1 in 1984), "Easy Lover" (#2 in 1984), "One More Night" (#1 in 1985), "Sussudio" (#1 in 1985), "Don't Lose My Number" (#4 in 1985), "Separate Lives"
(#1 in 1985), "Take Me Home" (#7 in 1986), "Groovy Kind Of Love" (#1 in 1988), "Two Hearts" (#1 in 1988), "Another Day In Paradise" (#1 in 1989), "I Wish It Would Rain"
(#3 in 1990), "Do You Remember" (#4 in 1990) and "Something Happened On The Way To Heaven" (#4 in 1990).
Meanwhile, Mike Rutherford found unexpected success with his new formation, Mike + The Mechanics, who scored three US Top 40 hits in 1986 with "Silent Running" (On
Dangerous Ground), (#6), "All I Need Is A Miracle" (#5), and "Taken In" (#32).
1986 also brought Genesis's highest-selling album, "Invisible Touch", which was released at the height of Collins's popularity as a solo artist. The LP yielded five hit singles:
"Invisible Touch" (#1 in the US, #15 in the UK), "Throwing It All Away" (#4 in the US, #22 in the UK), "Land of Confusion" (#4 in the US, #14 in the UK), "Tonight, Tonight,
Tonight" (#3 in the US, #18 in the UK) and "In Too Deep" (#3 in the US, #19 in the UK). On the strength of the album, Genesis became the first band to sell out four
consecutive nights at Wembley Stadium. After this wave of success, Banks, Collins and Rutherford took a much needed rest before they would work together again, filling
their time with solo projects. Rutherford enjoyed his biggest hit with The Mechanics when "The Living Years" reached #2 in the UK and rose to the top of the Billboard chart
during a 14 week stay in 1989. Tony Bank's solo efforts however, sold modestly to only a core audience of faithful devotees. Individual success fanned rumors that the
band would dissolve, but the three never lost site of Genesis.
After a five year hiatus, Genesis reconvened for the November, 1991 release of "We Can't Dance", which would prove to be Collins's last studio album with the group. The
CD, which sold more than 4 million copies in the US alone, reached #1 in the UK and #4 in the US on the strength of several hit singles including, "No Son Of Mine" (#12 in
the US, #6 in the UK), "I Can't Dance" (#7 in the US, #7 in the UK), "Hold On My Heart" (#12 in the US, #16 in the UK), "Tell Me Why" (#40 in the UK), "Jesus He Knows
Me" (#23 in the US) and "Never A Time" (#21 in the US). A track called "Since I Lost You" was written by Phil Collins about Eric Clapton's four-year-old son Conor, who
died after falling from the 53rd-story window of his mother's friend's New York City apartment.
Now at the height of their fame, only the largest venues and stadiums could handle the demand for Genesis tickets. A collection of world-wide hits released in November,
1992 was a live compilation called "The Way We Walk – The Shorts". In Early in 1993, a corresponding collection consisting of longer Genesis numbers was released as
"The Way We Walk – The Longs". After this incredible stretch of success, fans were going to have to do without new Genesis material for a while. Then, in March, 1996,
Phil Collins announced that he was leaving the band. He later admitted that he "felt it time to change direction in my musical life. For me now, it will be music for movies,
some Jazz projects and of course my solo career. I wish the guys in Genesis all the very best in their future. We remain the best of friends."
Rutherford and Banks decided to continue as Genesis, but to keep touring, they would need more than one new member, as the band had lost not only Collins, but also
the road musicians Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson. Stuermer was approached, but was touring with Collins at the time. Thompson applied for the drummer's job,
but after he was refused full-band membership, ended his 19-year association with the group. Eventually, drumming duties would be shared between Nir Zidkyahu, an Israeli
session drummer who had played with Hidden Persuaders and Nick D'Virgilio, from the progressive rock band Spock's Beard. The difference in their playing styles was
marked. D'Virgilio played softer, more subtle rhythms in comparison to Zidkyahu's exaggerated technique. Genesis also had to find a new lead vocalist. Their choice was a
young singer named Ray Wilson, formerly of the post-grunge / rock ensemble known as Stiltskin. Wilson was adept at handling Banks' and Rutherford's material and this
fresh version of Genesis recorded a new album entitled "Calling All Stations", released in 1997. Few expected that this new incarnation would achieve the same success
as the Phil Collins version, but they were nevertheless surprised at how poorly the album did in the States and consequently the whole American tour was cancelled. In
Europe, they faired a little better, playing medium size venues with new musicians Nir Z. on drums and Anthony Drennan on guitar and bass. By the summer of 1998,
Genesis was again put on hiatus from touring and recording new material.
Now seemed like the perfect time to work on a project which had sat on the back burner for some time. "The Genesis Archive 1967-75" is a retrospective set that covers
the band's formative history when Peter Gabriel was lead singer. The first two of the four discs consists of a previously unreleased live recording of "The Lamb Lies Down on
Broadway" from 1975. Some of Peter Gabriel's vocals on the live recordings of this box set were re-recorded by the singer in 1995 due to technical problems with the
recording as well as elaborate costumes that often muffled his voice. Guitarist Steve Hackett re-recorded some guitar parts as well. The package was well-received in the
UK, where it reached #35 on the album chart.
"Genesis Archive #2: 1976-1992", issued in 2000, is a retrospective that covers the band's history while Phil Collins was the lead singer. The three discs contain live
recordings, mostly previously unreleased, with a few that had been B-sides, 12" remixes, a "work-in-progress" jam, and non-album B-sides, many of which were not
previously available on CD. Unfortunately for the band, this set failed to chart.
In the autumn of 2000, a semi-reunion took place when Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford were joined by Daryl Stuermer for a semi-acoustical set to honor
their manager Tony Smith. Peter Gabriel watched from the audience, but joined his old band mates onstage for a post concert photo shoot. Rumors about a Genesis
reunion began to spread again.
In the years since, Steve Hackett and Phil Collins have both expressed their willingness to participate in such a project. Only Peter Gabriel has declared that he would not
do it “as long as I don’t run out of money and ideas." Gabriel, Hackett and Collins have all embarked on solo tours. The best that fans could get was re-releases of video
material on DVD, such as "The Way We Walk", a double disc set from shows at Earls Court in 1992. Also made available was "The Invisible Touch", a DVD first issued as
"Live At Wembley Stadium". In between these releases, fans had to be content with "The Genesis Songbook", a documentary about the band. Another offering was the
Platinum Collection (3CD) and The Video Show DVD, which was comprised of all music videos from Ripples to The Carpet Crawlers. The Platinum Collection is the first true presentation of their complete total output on three CDs with new and improved mixes of the original songs.
In the future we may look forward to more releases with many Genesis shows becoming available either as legal downloads or limited edition CDs. In late 2005, various members of Genesis spoke freely about meeting to discuss a reunion. This meeting actually took place and it was decided to let Genesis rest for a while. However, in 2007, Banks, Collins and Rutherford did reunited for a twenty city tour of North America and Europe, which included a free concert at Rome's Circo Massimo in front of half a million fans.
Genesis were among five bands inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, however, the group's future seems cloudy at best as Phil Collins announced on March 4th, 2011 that because of health problems, he has ended his music career. In an interview with Rolling Stone on September 27th, 2011, Peter Gabriel said that a reunion with the classic lineup is still a possibility, but hopes remain very slim.
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