Genesis induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010

On 15 March 2010, Genesis were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Steve Hackett were present alongside live members Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer. Peter Gabriel did not attend the event. The band was inducted by Phish frontman Trey Anastasio.

Live on the 29th of July, 1992. Kiel, Germany.

Phil Collins had damaged his health on the ‘Turn It On Again’ tour

By the time Genesis were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they had been in a hiatus for three years. Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, along with Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson, had last been on their ‘Turn It On Again’ in 2007. The tour had been hugely successful.

On this tour, however, Phil Collins had damaged his health. When playing drums, he felt a numbness in his left arm and his fingers. It turned out that he had damaged the nerves in his neck and his back. Years of drumming had taken its toll. With Phil Collins being unable to play the drums, further Genesis live gigs seemed very unlikely.

The Way We Walk: The Shorts (Cover) – from left to right: Daryl Stuermer, Chester Thompson, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Phil Collins

Would Peter Gabriel join his old bandmates for the induction?

When it was announced that Genesis would finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, rumours started to spread again. Would they all attend? Would Peter Gabriel also join his former bandmates? Would they perform together?

The answer was: no. Peter Gabriel was in preparation for a tour and decided not to take part in the ceremony. Also, he had cut most of his ties with Genesis over the years. He had left the group in 1975 when he was 25 and had started a tremendously successful solo career. Going back to Genesis was not something he wanted. To stop all the rumours right away, he did not attend the ceremony. But the other four ‘classic’ members Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins and Steve Hackett did. They were joined by their families and long-time live members Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson. The induction speech was held by Trey Anastastio of Phish.

Genesis live, July 29th, 1992 Kiel, Germany. The Nordmarksportfeld.

Phish performed two Genesis songs

Phish also performed two Genesis songs: ‘Watcher Of The Skies’ and ‘No Reply At All’. One song from each era, but two very odd choices. It was interesting to observe that they struggled much more with the ‘pop’ song ‘No Reply At All’.

Trey Anastasio gave a wonderful speech. Being a musician who is also into complex music, instead of focussing on the obvious stories and tales, he gave a brief insight into the art behind the albums Trespass*, Selling England By the Pound* and Duke. It was a fitting speech for this evening. Genesis were not inducted because they were superstars, but because they were great musicians and performers.

Phish frontman Trey Anastasio held a wonderful induction speech

The four ‘classic’ members went onstage and Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins and Steve Hackett said some nice words (Steve’s speech was a bit embarrasing, to be honest) and Mike mentioned that Peter was in preparation for his orchestra tour.

Phil Collins later admitted that he was happy that Peter had not been there, because there would have been questions about a big reunion. Being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seemed like a cherry on the cake in Genesis’ career. Although it was just a festive occasion, this was to be the last time that Genesis appeared together in public for some years. It was also the last time Chester Thompson appeared with them. Neither the band nor the fans knew at that point.

Trey Anastasio celebrated Genesis in his speech as ‘rebellious, restless and constantly striving for something more.’ This sums up their career perfectly.

Title photo: Genesis on stage during the The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour, 1974-75. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Nick Contador/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

First photo: Genesis live, July 29th, 1992 Kiel, Germany. The Nordmarksportfeld. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Derzsi Elekes Andor/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

Second Photo: The Way We Walk – The Shorts (Cover).

Third photo: Genesis live, July 29th, 1992 Kiel, Germany. The Nordmarksportfeld. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Derzsi Elekes Andor/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

Fourth photo: Daryl Stuermer, Chester Thompson and Mike Rutherford, Liverpool Empire, Duke Tour 1980. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Rodhullandemu/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

Fourth photo: Genesis, Phil Collins, Strasbourg, October 1981. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Philippe Roos from Strasbourg/ CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Phil Collins’ departure from Genesis in 1996

On 28 March 1996, Phil Collins’ departure from Genesis was officially announced in a press release: ‘Genesis end twenty-year experiment, decide to replace Peter Gabriel as vocalist.’ It was the end of an era. Here’s the story of his (temporary) departure.

Phil Collins decided to leave Genesis in 1993

In 1993, Genesis were at their peak. The group’s We Can’t Dance tour in 1992 had been huge. In autumn 1993, they played a concert in Cowdray Ruins, a charity gig with Pink Floyd, Queen and Eric Clapton. Genesis played four songs and joined everybody for the encore. Nobobdy knew that this would be Phil Collins’ last gig with the band for a long time.

By this point, Phil Collins was writing what would become his most personal solo album Both Sides*. On Both Sides, he played all the instruments and produced the album all by himself. Both Sides was similar to his first solo album Face Value and reflected his situation: His marriage with his wife Jill was going to pieces because he had an affair with an old girlfriend from school, Lavinia Lang. His family was about to break once more. Phil felt he could not sing Genesis songs anymore, but wanted to sing about things he could relate to. Also, he was tired of having to wow whole stadiums with the band. He felt that he had come to the end of the road with Genesis.

On his solo album Both Sides, Phil Collins played all the instruments, sang and produced

Some time after the gig at Cowdray Ruins, he told manager Tony Smith about his decision. Smith, being a manager and businessman, advised him to finish his solo album and tour and then think about the matter again. Phil Collins went on a world tour in 1994 and 1995. In Switzerland, he met a young woman named Orianne Cevey, whom he fell in love with. His marriage with Jill being over, he moved to Lake Geneva to live with Orianne. For this decision (and for his music), he was heavily criticized by the British press. In turn, Phil got to hate his public ‘Mr Nice Guy’-image. At this point in his life, there was no space for Genesis anymore.

Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford decided to carry on

The group met in manager Tony Smith’s kitchen in 1996 and Phil told them that he wanted to leave. Tony Banks’ replied with true British understatement ‘It’s a sad day, a very sad day.’ Mike Rutherford was surprised that Phil had stayed that long in Genesis, having enjoyed a successful solo career for 15 years in 1996. Phil’s departure was announced twenty years and two days after his first gig as a vocalist with the band. With him leaving, the band not only lost their superstar singer and entertainer, but also a great composer and drummer.

Mike and Tony decided to carry on and search for a new singer. Phil Collins continued his solo career, but not as successful as in the 1980s. The three of them remained friends. It was not until the early 2000s that they started to appear again as a trio for certain occasions. Finally in 2006, ten years after Phil’s departure, they reunited officially as a group to go on tour. But that is another story.

Title photo: The world famous band – Genesis. Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford. (Photo 1991) . Source: Wikimedia Commons, David Scheinmann / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Phil Collins’ first show as frontman

In 1975, Peter Gabriel left Genesis. After unsuccessfully auditioning for a new singer, drummer Phil Collins took over and sang on A Trick of the Tail* (1976), the first album after Gabriel’s departure. Still, he did not want to sing on the following tour. This is the story of how he became Genesis frontman.

Phil Collins did not want to be the singer

The album A Trick of the Tail was a huge success, showing that Genesis could survive the loss of their lead singer Peter Gabriel. Phil Collins demonstrated his singing skills and his variety of range on heavy tracks like ‘Dance On A Volcano’ and softer songs like ‘Ripples’.

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There was still a problem: Phil Collins did not want to be the singer. He wanted to be the drummer, which for him was the most respectable part of the group. ‘I’ve always felt the singer was the cheapest gig in the band, ’cause all they had to do was look good and wiggle their bum,’ Phil said. ‘I always wanted the most respectable part in the group, which was of course the drummer.’1 When the band planned to tour the new album, he became very reluctant. He agreed to sing if he found someone whom he could trust as a drummer.

His mate Bill Bruford of Yes became drummer for the upcoming Genesis tour and Phil properly became Genesis frontman. Their first gig was in London, Ontario, on 26 March 1976.

Could he replace Peter Gabriel?

Having listened to A Trick of the Tail, the audience knew that Phil Collins could sing. Also, there was no need to worry if he was able to sing the older songs. Peter Gabriel and him not only had similar voices, Phil had also accompanied Peter as a backing vocalist. There was no doubt or problem when Phil Collins approached tracks like ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, ‘Firth Of Fifth’ or the epic fan favourite ‘Supper’s Ready’.

Also, the new songs were received very well. On ‘Robbery, Assault & Battery’, Phil showed his acting skills from drama school and brought the Victorian story to life onstage. The instrumental ‘Los Endos’ became even more adventurous than on record when it was played with two drummers.

The addition of Bill Bruford was the right decision at that point. Having played with Yes, he was a well-known drummer in the progressive rock world. Also, to have two drummers onstage was something new for Genesis and added a new dimension to the music. On later tours, they would bring the double-drumming to perfection, when Phil played with Chester Thompson. Whereas Bill and Phil played more against each other, Chester and Phil played with each other.

A happy audience welcomed the ‘new’ singer

The audience wanted this line-up to work and they welcomed the ‘new’ singer enthusiastically because he came from within the group.

They also liked Phil’s down-to-earth approach combined with a bit of Pythonesque humour. In fact, the band seemed more relaxed onstage and the focus was not only on the frontman, but also on the other members. On ‘I Know What I Like’, Phil involved them by putting funny hats on their heads and singing together with Mike Rutherford into the microphone. He also invented his famous tambourine dance.

Whereas Peter was the mysterious traveller, Phil was the bloke next door. He did not tell strange stories but communicated with the audiences directly. Peter Gabriel often stated that he was happy when Phil replaced him. He knew that technically he was a better singer and he also knew that Phil’s communication with the audience would work.

And he was right. Although Phil was nervous on this first show in London, Ontario, this approach worked – the band went on with him as lead singer since then, only with a short interruption in the 1990s when Phil also left the group and Ray Wilson took over. But this is another story.

Title photo: Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins of Genesis in 1977. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Jean-Luc Ourlin from Toronto ontario, Canada / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

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  1. Genesis – A History ↩︎

The Rainbow shows in January 1977

Genesis started their “Wind & Wuthering” tour at the Rainbow Theatre in London on 1st January 1977. They played the venue for three nights. Those shows were the first with Chester Thompson on drums. Also, the tour was the last with guitarist Steve Hackett.

Wind And Wuthering

In December 1976, Genesis had released “Wind and Wuthering”, their second album since Peter Gabriel’s departure. The band had become a foursome the year before, drummer Phil Collins had taken over the vocal duties. He had proved that he could fill this role easily on the previous album “A Trick of the Tail” and the following tour in 1976. On this tour they had Bill Bruford of the band Yes on drums. Being a famous “prog rock” drummer, this gave the band and the fans huge confidence. It was a signal that the band was stronger than ever after Gabriel had left them.

So they went in the studio to record their next album “Wind & Wuthering” in 1976. By this point, keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford were the main songwriters. Phil Collins was still more of a player and arranger. Guitarist Steve Hackett felt that not enough of his material was used. He was frustrated about his role in the group. “Wind & Wuthering” was released in late 1976. The band set out for a huge tour in 1977 that would lead them to South America for the first time.

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Their new live drummer

Since Bill Bruford was busy in other projects, Genesis had to find another drummer for the tour. Phil Collins found the perfect candidate in Chester Thompson of Weather Report. Chester had also played with Frank Zappa. Phil had heard him on Zappa’s “Roxy & Elsewhere” and liked his style. So he decided to offer him the job in Genesis. Although he hardly knew the band, Thompson agreed. He came to London for only a few days of rehearsals before the tour started.

The music was totally new to him. He knew a bit of “A Trick Of The Tail” because Weather Report’s bass player Alphonso Johnson (who was friends with Phil Collins) had listened to the record on the last Weather Report tour all the time. But now he, an American jazz drummer, had to learn and rehearse a two and a half hour set of British progressive rock music in ten days. Chester wrote down the music in a little book. He learned it by night and played it the next day at rehearsals. Tony Banks was (of course) very impressed by Chester’s notes and his way of working.

Chester Thompson played with them until 2007

From the moment Phil and he played together, they knew that they had something special going on. The both of them clicked instantly. There is a greater chemistry when they play together than when Phil played with Bill Bruford. Thompson was criticized by some for these first performances at the Rainbow. Music journalist Chris Welch admitted that Thompson was technically better than Collins or Bruford but that he lacked excitement. Peter Gabriel, who was in the audiences at the Rainbow shows, felt a bit sorry for Chester, because he had to learn this kind of music and its feeling in such a short time.

But Chester became much more familiar with the music during the course of the tour and could put his own stamp on the songs. Songs like “Los Endos” or “Wot Gorilla” that were influenced by jazz rock reached another level, especially with two drummers. But also the epic fan favourites benefitted from the new influence. “Supper’s Ready”, “Lilywhite Lilith” and the ending of “The Musical Box” were played with a groove that was missing before. The band and the audiences liked Thompson’s input. The collaboration worked so well that Thompson toured with them until their reunion tour in 2007 (with the exception of the 1998 “Calling All Stations” tour). Unfortunately he was not part of the “The Last Domino?” tour in 2021/2022.

Live at the Rainbow 1977

When Genesis announced the Rainbow shows, 80.000 people applicated for 8000 tickets – despite critics saying that punk killed progressive rock that year. Fans that were lucky enough to see the shows were also suprised by new visiuals. The “Wind & Wuthering” tour introduced a new light show, which included lasers and Boeing 747 landing lights.

The new songs were welcomed by the crowd. Genesis opened the Rainbow show with “Eleventh Earl Of Mar” from the new album. This song was also lifted to another level by Thompson’s playing. The jazzy new instrumental “…In That Quiet Earth” was unbelievably groovy with two drummers. At the end of Tony Banks’ ballad “Afterglow”, Thompson and Collins reproduced a drum fill that Thompson had played with another drummer on the Zappa live album.

“Best Live Band” in 1977

Tony Banks’ epic “One For The Vine” proved to work just as well as “Supper’s Ready” or “The Musical Box”. The quirky “All In A Mouse’s Night” was a humorous moment to relax between the heavy stuff. “Squonk””from “A Trick Of The Tail” suffered a bit in comparison to the album version and is a reference point for the Thompson critics. “I Know What I Like”, originally a rather short single from 1974, became even longer than on the previous tour and had much more groove. For Genesis, the three nights at the Rainbow theatre were highly successful and a strong start for a long and successful tour.

The tour would lead them through Europe, the US and South America. Genesis had reached a new peak in live performances and was voted “Best live group” in 1977. This was captured in the double live album “Seconds Out”. After the tour, guitarist Steve Hackett left the band. The three remaining members Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks returned to the studio to record their next album.

Title photo: Genesis_(the_band). Source: Wikimedia Commons, Jean-Luc / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Steve Hackett’s first gig with Genesis

On 14 January 1971, Steve Hackett played his first gig with Genesis at University College, London. It was not the best start for the guitarist.

When Steve joined in late 1970, Phil Collins had already been in the band for a few months. Since then, Genesis had performed as four piece: Tony Banks on keyboards, Mike Rutherford on guitar and bass, Phil Collins on drums and Peter Gabriel on vocals.

Steve Hackett was quite nervous before he played his first gig with Genesis. On 14 January 1971 the band played at University College in London. They came in the afternoon, the stage was set up, they did a soundcheck and had something to eat and a few drinks.

Phil decided to test the rule of how many Newcastle Brown Ales you could drink and still play the drums

On this evening, Phil decided to test the rule of how many Newcastle Brown Ales you could drink and still play the drums. By the time the band was onstage, he did all the right fills but three inches to the right of each drum.

The usual equipment problems of the early Genesis days kicked in

For nervous Steve, the whole gig was a nightmare. Not only because of Phil’s experiment, but also because the usual equipment problems of the early Genesis days kicked in, when his fuzzbox did not work properly.

After the show he thought that he had failed and the others did not want him in the group. He heard Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford arguing with Phil backstage and thought it was about him. Of course they gave Phil a hard time because of his performance!

Although this certainly was not the best first gig for Steve Hackett, the audiences were happy and the band wanted him to stay. They liked his contribution and played more gigs throughout the year and recorded their first album together, Nursery Cryme*. But that is another story in Genesis history.

Title photo: Wikimedia Commons, Jeff Wurstner / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

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