On 28 September 1972, Peter Gabriel appeared onstage during ‘The Musical Box’ with the foxes’ head and the red dress from the Foxtrot album cover.Continue reading “Dublin, 28 Sept 1972: Peter Gabriel wears a fox head and a red dress”
On July 3, 1977, Genesis played the last show of their Wind And Wuthering tour and (unbeknown to them at that point) also the last show with lead 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.
By this point, keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford were the main songwriters with Phil Collins being 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 and decided to leave Genesis after the 1977 tour.
The Wind & Wuthering tour
The band set out for a huge tour in 1977 that would lead them to South America for the first time and through Europe and the US. On drums, they were accompanied by American drummer Chester Thompson. It was his first tour with them and he would remain with the band as a live drummer until 2007 (with a short interruption in the 1990s).
Genesis 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.
The last show
The last show of the tour (and also Steve Hackett’s last show as a member of Genesis) took place in the Olympiahalle, Munich, on July 3, 1977. They opened the set with ‘Squonk’ as they had done throughout most of the tour, then they played ‘One For The Vine’, a Banks composition from the new album. ‘Inside And Out’ from the recent EP Spot The Pigeon was added on some European dates and was also played in Munich. Among the highlights of the show were songs like ‘The Carpet Crawlers’, ‘I Know What I Like’ and ‘Supper’s Ready’, some of which had changed a lot since the days when Peter Gabriel sang them. Also, the band had started to play medleys on the tour before and continued to do so on the Wind & Wuthering tour. ‘Dance On A Volcano’ and ‘Los Endos’ were combined as well as ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ and the closing section of ‘The Musical Box’. The band also played ‘Firth Of Fifth’ that night in which Steve plays the famous guitar solo. Neither the fans nor the band knew that they had witnessed him playing it live for the last time.
Steve leaves the band
Steve Hackett had been the first Genesis member to record a solo album. There, he included some of the music that was not used on Genesis albums. During the period as a four-piece-band, he wanted to have a certain percentage on each album for his own songs. The others disagreed; they were a democratic band. So he started recording solo albums and felt that his input on Genesis albums became less and less.
Also, when the band mixed the live album Seconds Out in July 1977, he could not stand listening to tracks like ‘I Know What I Like’ anymore after having played them for months at this point. Also, he felt that after playing shows with audiences of 20.000 people, there was nothing new to strive for. So one day he phoned Mike Rutherford and told him he wanted to leave. Mike knew that Steve had been unhappy in Genesis for some time, so he did not try to talk him out of it. Later that day or the following day, Phil Collins drove from West London to Trident Studios, where they mixed the live album. He passed Steve on the street and told him to jump into the car. Steve acted a bit oddly, said ‘Speak to Mike, he’ll explain’ and went off. When Phil arrived at the studio, Tony and Mike informed him that Steve had left the band.
The three remaining members then went on mixing Seconds Out and afterwards went into the studio to record their next album. They would remain a three-piece-band in the studio for the rest of their career and Steve Hackett would continue his career as a solo artist.
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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’.
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. In his eyes, the singer was only up front to wiggle his bum and look good. So when the band planned to tour the new album, he became very reluctant. Would he sing? Who would play the drums? Who would be the singer if he played drums? Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett already knew the answer and in the end convinced him to become their proper frontman.
Bill Bruford of Yes was going to be the drummer for the tour. With a drummer like him onstage, the band and also the audience knew that Genesis could not fail. Their first gig of the tour 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.But what about the older songs? Could Phil replace Gabriel and sing his songs? Of course he could. Not only had they similar voices, Phil had always accompanied Peter as a backing vocalist. It was no 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: Onstage it was played with two drummers.
The addition of Bruford was the right decision at that point. Having played with Yes, he was a well-known drummer in the progressive rock world and one of the best out there. It was something new for Genesis to hve two drummers onstage and they truly celebrated it. During the instrumental parts, Phil joined Bill and the two drummers 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 was happy. They wanted this line-up to work and they welcomed the ‘new’ singer 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 front man, but also on the other members. On ‘I Know What I Like’, Phil involved them by putting funny hats on their heads and sang together with Mike Rutherford into the microphone. And he invented his famous tambourine dance during the song which even made Tony Banks smile onstage.
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 statedt 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 1990’s 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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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.
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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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. They were used to playing live. Phil had established his role as the drummer, being the backbone of the band.
So 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. The guys 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
Unfortunately 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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