Phil Collins’ last gig with Genesis at Cowdray Ruins on 18 September 1993

On 18 September 1993, Genesis played their last gig with Phil Collins at Cowdray Ruins before he left the band.

Genesis in 1993

1993 was a quiet year for Genesis. In 1992, the group had been on their huge’We Can’t Dance tour‘ following their 1991 album We Can’t Dance*. 1993 saw them returning to their solo projects. Phil Collins’ marriage to his second wife Jill started to fall apart with the tabloid press publishing story over story about the family. Phil wrote and released his solo album Both Sides*, a very dark and angry and certainly his most personal album, which unfortunately did not go very well with the critics. In these turbulent times, Genesis only played one gig, when they resurfaced briefly for ‘a charity gig at Cowdray Ruins in aid of the King Edward VII hospice where they were joined by such rock alumni as Pink Floyd and the remaining members of Queen.’1

Queen performed a set of songs with Roger Taylor and Paul Young from Mike and the Mechanics on vocals. Then Genesis took the stage, but not with their regular live members Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on bass and guitar. Instead, Roger Taylor of Queen and Gary Wallis of Mike and the Mechanivs played drums for them and bass/guitar was played by Mike’s bandmate from Mike and the Mechanics, Tim Renwick, who also played with Pink Floyd.

Genesis’ reunion in the picturesque scenery among these famous headliners saw them playing ‘Turn It On Again’, ‘Hold On My Heart’, ‘I Can’t Dance’ and ‘Tonight Tonight Tonight’/’Invisible Touch’. According to some sources, they were also said to have played Phil Collins’s solo song ‘That’s Just The Way It Is’, but that is highly doubtable.

Next up was Pink Floyd who played some of their classic tracks from the 1970s, some also sung by Paul Young and with Mike on bass. Phil remembers: ‘The Floyd I’ve never loved apart from ‘Arnold Layne’. But we did this gig…I went to the sound check, and I was listening to the Floyd and a couple of the things they played I thought ‘I quite like that. There’s a couple of things in there that, you know. They show promise.”2

After Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton played a few songs (with Mike playing bass) and at the end, the ‘All Star Cowdray Ruins Band’, a band that featured everyone that had performed that night, played ‘Ain’t That Peculiar’, ‘Can I Get A Witness’ and ‘Gimme Some Loving’. YouTube videos and audio recordings of the show exist, but in a very low quality, which is a shame when considering this was Phil’s last gig with Genesis.

It was a successful, but ‘low-profile show’ and ‘few people would have ever believed that it was also Phil Collins’s final appearance with the band he’d now fronted for 18 unexpected years’3.

The show may have been one of the reasons for Phil to leave Genesis, as he remembers: ‘In the middle of my writing and making BOTH SIDES, Genesis did a concert with Queen. […] But I didn’t enjoy it … As I was singing these songs, it didn’t feel natural. Obviously, it was bad timing, going just like that from doing my most personal thing to a Genesis thing and back. But it definitely felt like ‘What am I doing here?’, like shoes that don’t fit anymore’.’4

Some time after this gig, Phil decided to leave Genesis, but his departure would not be announced until 1996. But that’s another story.

The line-up of the Cowdray Ruins band (according to the programme):

TONY BANKS: Genesis Keyboards
ERIC CLAPTON Guitar
PHIL COLLINS Genesis Vocals
JOHN DEACON Queen Bass
DAVID GILMOUR Pink Floyd Guitar
ADRIAN LEE Mike &. Mech Keyboards
NICK MASON Pink Floyd Drums
TIM RENWICK Mech./Floyd Bass/Guitar
MIKE RUTHERFORD Genesis Guitar/Bass
ROGER TAYLOR Queen Vocals/Drums
GARRY WALLIS Drums
RICHARD WRIGHT Pink Floyd Keyboards
PAUL YOUNG Mike &. Mech Vocals

Source: YouTube

Sources

Hewitt, Alan (2000): Opening The Musical Box. London: Firefly Publishing.

Platts, Robin (2007): Genesis. Behind the lines, 1967-2007. Burlington, Ont., Canada: Collectors Guide Pub.

Thompson, Dave (2005): Turn it on again. Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins & Genesis. San Francisco: Backbeat Books.

Title photo: Genesis in corcerto. Nizza – Luglio 1992 . Source: Wikimedia Commons, Valerio Ravaglia / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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  1. Hewitt 2000: 64 ↩︎
  2. in Thompson 2005: 254 ↩︎
  3. Ibid. ↩︎
  4. in Platts 2007: 140 ↩︎

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 acts such as 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 this, he played all the instruments and he 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 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 do his solo album and tour and then think about the matter again. So 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. He flew to England to talk to Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, his oldest (musical) friends.

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 actually surprised that Phil 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.

But 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 and saw each other every now and then. 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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The Longs (1993) – Genesis

After the ‘We Can’t Dance’ tour in 1992, Genesis released two live albums titled The Way We Walk (1992/93). A ‘typical’ Genesis concert from that period was split in two. The first volume, The Shorts contained the hits, the second volume The Longs contained longer epics. Live – The Way We Walk, Volume Two: The Longs was released in January 1993 . It was their last release with Phil Collins before he left the group and the band’s last no. 1 album in the UK.

The second volume of the live release The Way We Walk

All the songs on the live album were recorded on the We Can’t Dance tour in 1992. It starts with an impressive ‘Old Medley’ which incoporates snippets from ‘Dance On A Volcano’, ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’, ‘The Musical Box’, ‘Firth Of Fifth’, ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ and more. The sound of the album is pristine, Mike Rutherford’s and Daryl Stuermer’s guitars are much more prominent than on previous live releases. This shift in sound came with new producer Nick Davis, who had also produced Genesis’ last studio album We Can’t Dance. Daryl only plays guitar on the ‘Old Medley’, Mike plays guitar on all the other tracks of the album and rhythm guitar on ‘Dance On Volcano’ in the ‘Old Medley’.

The medley is followed by ‘Driving The Last Spike’, ‘Domino (Part I: In The Glow Of The Night, Part II: The Last Domino)’, ‘Fading Lights’, ‘Home By The Sea/Second Home By The Sea’ and the ‘Drum Duet’ between Phil Collins and Chester Thompson.

‘When we came down to the dressing room afterwards the roadies had put down what tonight’s timing was, because it always got a bit longer’, Phil laughs. ‘They put bets on it and see if we were going to break the 10-minute mark tonight. It was definitely the highlight. Tony Banks would debate because he used to go and have a beer, but it was one of the highlights of the show for sure.’1

‘There’s something that happens when you got two drums locked in together’, Chester says. ‘The power is just so amazing. […] Those moments for me were the ones where there was, for a lack of a better word, a majesty to it.’2

Apart from the medley, the other songs come from the most recent albums Genesis (1983), Invisible Touch (1986) and We Can’t Dance (1991).

Their last number one album with Phil Collins

All of the songs sound stronger than on record with Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer playing an important part in it. Chester’s drumming and Daryl’s bass lines on ‘Driving The Last Spike’ lift the song up on another level.

‘Fading Lights’ is interesting as it is only played by the three band members Tony, Phil and Mike. It is a typical long song in band tradition with an extraordinary instrumental part (also way better than on record). The lyrics about fading memories were written by Tony and it almost seems as if Genesis were discreetly saying goodbye to their fans. Was it irony or prophecy that the band really split up afterwards?

‘Domino’ and ‘Home By The Sea’ both sound better than on record because the e-drums are replaced by real drums and there is much more energy in the performance. The ‘Old Medley’ songs that would have sounded interesting as standalone tracks are ‘Dance On A Volcano’ and ‘The Musical Box’. ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ and ‘I Know What I Like’ would have sounded very modern between the more recent hits.

Many fans do not like the way the band split up the two The Way We Walk volumes. Nonetheless, The Longs is a great compilation with many of the songs presented in their best versions.

Purchase “Genesis – The Longs” here at Amazon*

Get “Genesis – The Shorts” here at Amazon*

Genesis Music on Amazon*

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  1. PHIL COLLINS: ON AMERICAN DRUMMER CHESTER THOMPSON DRUMMING FOR GENESIS. ↩︎
  2. CHESTER THOMPSON FULL INTERVIEW : DRUMMING WITH ZAPPA, WEATHER REPORT, GENESIS & PHIL COLLINS. ↩︎