Anthony Phillips’s last gig with Genesis

Cover for one of the various editions of 'From Genesis to Revelation'

On 18 July 1970, Genesis played their last show with founding member and guitarist Anthony Phillips at Haywards Heath.

Charterhouse and ‘The Anon’

Anthony Phillips joined Charterhouse, a public school in Godalming, Surrey, in April 1965. Being a guitarist, he quickly formed a band there with his fellow pupils Richard MacPhail, Rivers Jobe, Rob Tyrell and Mike Rutherford. They named themselves Anon and played songs by The Rolling Stones1, The Beatles and several other pop groups of the era. They performed mostly at parties.

The first member to bring in an own song into Anon was Anthony Phillips: ‘Pennsylvania Flickhouse’. They booked an hour of studio time at Tony Pike’s studio in Putney, as Richard MacPhail remembers: ‘We piled all the gear in Ant’s mother’s Mercedes and got on a bus and I thought ‘An hour, on my God, what are we gonna do with a whole hour? Each song’s three minutes long, that means we’re gonna get about nine songs done.’ We just got one done and we had huge rails with Mr Pike because everything was of course too loud and he said ‘You’re gonna ruin my equipment!’, all that classic stuff that went on in those days in recording studios.’2

In December 1966, the group disbanded.

Anthony Phillips in Genesis

In 1967, Ant and his friend and fellow guitarist Mike Rutherford began writing music together. To record a demo, they asked another Charterhouse pupil, Tony Banks, if he could play organ on a song. Tony agreed under the condition that his mate Peter Gabriel could also come along and sing one of their songs. Both of them had also played in a band at Charterhouse, The Garden Wall. Ant and Mike agreed and soon, former Garden Wall drummer Chris Stewart joined the group.

The demo tape was given to producer Jonathan King, who signed them to his publishing company and they recorded some singles. King then named the group Genesis, and the group recorded their first studio album From Genesis to Revelation (1969). Like on the singles, King added strings arranged by Arthur Greenslade to the mix. To their frustration, the band only found out about the strings when listening to the finished version of From Genesis To Revelation with only Ant Phillips showing his anger by storming out of the studio.

By mid-1969, the boys’ parents wanted them to resume education. At Charterhouse, Ant began studying for further A levels to pursue a university degree. But Ant and Mike had been gripped by rock and roll and decided to become professional musicians. By the end of the summer of 1969, Peter and Tony joined them in their wish to become full-time musicians. They began writing music and touring the country from late 1969 to early 1970. ‘Yet, something was lacking‘, it is said in the press kit of Ant’s first solo album, ‘Phillips, perhaps because he was younger than the others found that life on the road was getting in the way of his writing.’3

The unhappiness and the stress began affecting Ant’s health and also he began suffering from stage fright: : ‘I was in Watford Tech, I remember playing the opening thing of ‘Let Us Now Make Love’ and I looked at the guitar and I thought ‘I haven’t got a clue what comes next’ and then I saw myself playing, but it was really scary.’4 Rich MacPhail remembers him playing a gig at Hackney where Ant was almost catatonic.5

Ant battled with the stage fright for three months thinking it was a passing phase and then fell ill with bronchial pneumonia: ‘Doctors were advising me to leave [the band]6‘, Ant says.

In June 1970, Genesis recorded their second album Trespass. Ant enjoyed working in the studio, but in July, they went straight back into band-life with little sleep, a lot of excitement and although Richard MacPhail tried his best to nourish his mates, pretty basic food. They were travelling and sleeping in their bread van or on floors: ‘We literally pitched up somewhere in the Midlands and we had nowhere to stay’, Ant recalls. ‘Too far to go back and some guy said: ‘Well, I know a guy with a bloody big house in Buxton’ and we stayed on the drafted floor of a bloody big house in Buxton.7

Anthony Phillips leaves the band

Finally, Ant decided to leave Genesis. ‘I remember driving out with with Richard MacPhail who said ‘Can we have a word with you?”, Mike Rutherford remembers. ‘To the pitch at Richmond rugby ground after a soundcheck. Light was falling, it was a weird atmosphere and Ant said he wanted to leave. It was a huge shock to me.’8 Ant’s last show was at Haywards Heath on 18 July 1970.

Tony Banks says: ‘I thought it was the end of the group. He was vital to its formation and in many ways he was the strongest member. We felt that whatever was special about us was a combination of the four of us being together in the same room so I assumed that when he left, that was it.’9

Losing Ant ‘was the closest we came to busting up’, Mike Rutherford agrees. ‘For some reason we felt so close that if one left, we thought we couldn’t carry on. Of all the changes we’ve been through, surviving Ant leaving was the hardest.’10

The aftermath

After Ant’s departure, Genesis did not disband, but his influence remained. The acoustic beginning of the ‘The Musical Box’, the opening song of their next album Nursery Cryme, was based on an instrumental guitar piece by Mike and Ant called ‘F Sharp’.

Ant himself went into a hiatus. ‘I left Genesis in a cloud of dust’, he says. ‘I remember I was listening to Sibelius when I had one those strange revelations – that I was terribly limited.11 He started studying various musical styles and in 1974, he began teaching music as a means to further explore the subject. In 1977 he said: ‘In the time since I left Genesis, I’ve studied classical guitar, piano, orchestration.’12 That same year he released his first solo album The Geese And The Ghost. Anthony Phillips is still active as a musician today.

Title photo: Cover of one of the various editions of From Genesis to Revelation


  1. To this day, Ant sends Christmas cards to Richard addressed to ‘Mick Phail’. ↩︎
  2. RICHARD MACPHAIL INTERVIEW Revised : GENESIS early years ↩︎
  3. The Geese and The Ghost Press Kit. Passport Records. 1977. pp. 2–3. ↩︎
  5. RICHARD MACPHAIL INTERVIEW Revised : GENESIS early years. In fact, Anthony Phillips has not played live to this day. ↩︎
  6. Cherry Red Interview: Anthony Phillips Story – Part 1 – Interview by Mark Powell – 2014 ↩︎
  9. Bowler, Dave; Dray, Bryan, Genesis. A biography. (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1992), p. 35. ↩︎
  10. Ibid. ↩︎
  11. Hedges, Dan, ‘It’s that candour moment…’, Sounds (26 March 1977). ↩︎
  12. Ibid. ↩︎

How Phil Collins joined Genesis

In August 1970, Phil Collins joined Genesis as their drummer. This is the story of how he got the job with the band.

‘Looking for someone’

In the summer of 1970, Genesis had faced what is often described by them as the greatest loss in their career. Guitarist and founding member Anthony Phillips had left the band after they had recorded the album Trespass, partly because he suffered terribly of stage fright. With Ant gone, the remaining three members also decided to look for a new drummer. Up to that point, Genesis had already had three drummers. Searching for a new guitarist and a new drummer, the band anonymously placed ads in the famous music magazine Melody Maker: ‘TONY STRATTON SMITH [their then label manager, note of the author] is looking for 12-STRING GUITARIST who can also play lead; plus DRUMMER sensitive to acoustic music.’ One of these ads caught the eye of a young drummer from London: Phil Collins.

Phil Collins had previously played in the band Flaming Youth (they had been called ‘Hickory’ at first) and released one album with them. He had been unhappy because they were not successful and hardly played any gigs. Approaching a career as a professional drummer, he started looking for a new band he could join.

Auditioning for Genesis

Phil and his mate Ronnie Caryl, a guitarist, were both interested in auditioning with the band behind the ad. Having known their manager Tony Stratton-Smith from previous musical projects, Phil went to the Marquee Club, where he knew he would find ‘Strat’, as he was called, at the bar. He asked him if he could join this mysterious band, but Strat told him that the band was very adamant and insisted on auditioning new members. He also told him that the band behind the ad was Genesis. Phil knew their name from the gig announcements in the back pages of Melody Maker.

By this time, Genesis was a threesome: Tony Banks on keyboards, Peter Gabriel on vocals and Mike Rutherford on guitar and bass. ‘I rang up and I guess it was Peter Gabriel who I spoke to’, Phil recalls. ‘He said ‘Yes, uhm, come down to my parents’ house in Chobham.”

Peter Gabriel was impressed when Phil mentioned that he had played with George Harrison. Later he and the rest of the band found out that Phil had only played tambourine on a George Harrison session, but it helped him get the audition.

Then, on a hot summer’s day, Phil and Ronnie drove to Peter Gabriel’s family home, a country house near Woking with a swimming pool and farms surrounding it.

According to Phil, Mike Rutherford wore a dressing gown, looking like a crushed velvet smoking jacket à la Noel Coward, and slippers (Mike insists that he wore swimming trunks and a dressing gown because they were by the pool). Peter Gabriel seemed a little bit eccentric to Phil, and Tony did not say much but had the appearance and demeanour of a ‘tortured artist’, as Phil put it.

Phil and Ronnie had arrived early and there were still some drummers auditioning before him. He was invited to have swim in the pool while waiting.

‘Being there early and having two or three drummers ahead of me, I didn’t know what the conversation was, what they were saying to each other, but I could hear the music’, Phil remembers. ‘The same piece of music being played two or three times and the same piece of music being played with the next guy two or three times. So by the time I came up to play, I kind of felt I knew what I was doing.’

The band had given the drummers pieces from their repertoire that represented the various styles Genesis was playing at the time. It was a mixture of lighter passages, heavier passages and of course, very experimental passages. When it was Phil’s turn, they played him the album Trespass in the house’s living room. Phil felt that the music was very soft and immediately liked the harmonies (a feature in Genesis music that would disappear in their later works), which reminded him of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Phil later said that he would have joined them even if he had not liked the music because he was a professional drummer in search of work.

Having listened to the other drummers while swimming in the pool, he then played everything the band had prepared perfectly.

Peter Gabriel adds: ‘Just the way he sat down on the stool, I knew he was going to be good. Some people have this sort of confidence about what they do.’

When driving away, Ronnie said that he thought Phil failed the audition, but that he – Ronnie – had done a good job. As history proved, it was the other way round. Some time after the audition, Phil got the job and became a member of Genesis, while Ronnie did not. He had not been the right guitarist for their kind of music. Today, Ronnie Caryl actually still plays with Phil Collins in his solo band.

Impressions of Genesis

Having succesfully auditioned, the 19-year old Phil Collins joined Genesis in August 1970. At first, the band took a two-week holiday break and after that, they met to rehearse at Farnham Maltings, a place that Mike’s father had helped them to rent. There, they rehearsed for six weeks and wrote what was to become their album Nursery Cryme.

Purchase Nursery Cryme here on Amazon*

Coming from Grammar School and Stage School and being a working-class kid, Phil had a very different background than the ‘Charterhouse’-guys, who were upper-class public school boys. Phil realized they were very highly educated and very different to him; Tony Banks with his long hair reminded him of Beethoven. Also, he was irritated by Peter Gabriel’s bass drum that used to be right next to his microphone stand and that Peter just played whenever he felt like it, often completely out of rhythm.

At this point in their career, Genesis had released two albums and were preparing to write their third album. Very soon, Phil realized there was tension within the group. Especially Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel used to have arguments and – sometimes rather violent – disagreements.

‘In the middle of a conversation, suddenly someone would get up and slam a guitar on the floor and walk out’, Phil says. ‘I thought ‘What?’ Someone had said something to upset somebody else. Two hours later this person would come back and we’d start playing again. Suddenly there’d be ‘Oh, f*ck you’ and somebody else walked out. It was very highly strung.’

‘I would often be at loggerheads with Tony Banks’, Peter Gabriel explains, ‘and Phil would always sit on the fence, he would never want to come into the argument.’

Phil quickly realized that his different attitude and background not only had an influence on the music, but on the dynamics in the band too. ‘I saw it was my job to deflate these situations with humour, which the stage school background enabled me to do’, he says.

Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford adds: ‘Apart from the humour, he’s got a very laid-back approach. He was very serious about his work, but had a very laid-back approach to life, which I think helped us a little bit.’ Mike also thinks that having auditioned at the Gabriel’s country house might have given Phil the impression that playing with Genesis would be a nice, relaxing job. In fact, they would spend their lives in the back of a van on the road for the next couple of years.

Title photo: Genesis – ‘The Knife’ (single cover).

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Phil Collins – A Life Less Ordinary (documentary, 2002)

Genesis – Sum of the Parts (documentary, 2014)

Philipp Röttgers – Two eras of Genesis? The development of a rock band (book, 2015)

The Silent Sun (1968) – Genesis

In February 1968, Genesis’ debut single ‘The Silent Sun’ was released on Decca Records. Peter Gabriel was just 17 when it came out. Let’s take a look at the band’s first single!

Genesis at Charterhouse

Genesis were still at Charterhouse in 1968. Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips had met at the public school and formed the group Genesis to break away from the oppressing school life. Back then, the group consisted of two songwriting pairs: Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel on the one hand and Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford on the other. They had recorded some demos while at school and had passed them on to producer Jonathan King. King was an ex-Charterhouse pupil and had become a successful producer and musician (his famous hit being ‘Everyone’s Gone To The Moon’).

King liked the music, in particular Peter Gabriel’s voice. He signed them at Decca Records and decided to produce an entire album with them. But when the band presented their next demos, he was not impressed with what he heard.

Their producer Jonathan King was a Bee Gees fan

Jonathan King wanted to have a potential hit single from his group. Peter and Tony knew that King liked The Bee Gees, so they wrote a Bee-Gees-pastiche called ‘The Silent Sun‘.*

‘I tried my best Robin Gibb impersonation,’ Peter laughs.

Naturally, King liked it, it became their first single and he went on to produce their first album ‘From Genesis to Revelation‘*.

The song is a mixture of folk and pop with Tony Banks’ piano (already) being very dominant. The main focus is on Peter’s voice. The strings were added later in the studio by King. ‘The Silent Sun’ is also one of very few official recordings that feature the group’s original drummer Chris Stewart.

‘’The Silent Sun’ came after we’d been drilled in the art of trying to write short pop songs by Jonathan King, which I resisted,’ Ant laughs. ‘I didn’t like ‘The Silent Sun’ at all.’ He also thinks that it was a good thing the single was not successful: ‘If the single had been successful the group would never have developed its proper style.’

Tony Banks agrees but thinks that the song would have made a great hit single. For Peter Gabriel, one of the most exciting moments in his musical career was seeing the name Genesis in the Record Mirror. Mike Rutherford remembers the excitement hearing ‘The Silent Sun’ for the first time on the radio in Ant’s kitchen.


The Decca release list from 2 February 1968 called the single ‘quietly attractive’. The New Musical Express wrote: ‘Competently handled by Genesis, with a beautiful flowing arrangement of violins and cellos. A disc of many facets and great depth, but it might be a bit too complex for the average fan.’

‘The Silent Sun’ failed to chart

Despite their enthusiasm, ‘The Silent Sun’ did not make the charts. The following album From Genesis To Revelation was also a flop and ultimately, the band and King separated ways.

Genesis were able to write and produce more adventurous music and once they were famous, King kept re-releasing his early recordings with the band in different versions over the years.

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Decca Press release.


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