Steve Hackett’s last show with Genesis

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.

Title photo: Genesis Steve Hackett. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Jean-Luc / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0). Originally posted to Flickr as Genesis.

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Where The Sour Turns To Sweet (1969) – Genesis

In June 1969, Genesis’ third single “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet”/”In Hiding” was released on Decca. It was released to raise interest in the LP “From Genesis to Revelation”, but to no avail.

From Genesis to Revelation

By 1969, Genesis had released two singles on Decca Records: “The Silent Sun” and “A Winter’s Tale“, both in 1968, both produced by Jonathan King. King had then produced their first proper album “From Genesis to Revelation“*. At this time, the band consisted of Tony Banks (keyboards), Peter Gabriel (vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitars), Mike Rutherford (guitars and bass) and John Silver (drums). The album became a sort of concept album about the history of mankind, but the music was still far from being progressive. To the band’s disappointment, King added a string arrangement in the production which made the whole album sound very soft.

The album got about the same interest as the previous singles – not very much at all. So it was decided that a single off the album should be released. “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet” was chosen.

When The Sour Turns To Sweet

The song itself had been in the band’s repertoire for quite some time. They had already recorded it among three other songs in a one-hour session at Regent Studios in London, where many rock legends had recorded, in 1967. Jonathan King had taken them there to record a tape that was sent to Decca Records. The label had been impressed and signed them and King went into the studio with them again, this time to Advision Studios, to produce a reprise of “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet” for their debut single.

The session was disastrous, the band (and the producer) were unexperienced and the idea was abandoned. Then, in 1968, the two other singles were released and finally, in June 1969, the long-delayed “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet” was set to release.

So on June 27, 1969, the album version of “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet” was released as a single, backed with “In Hiding”. It was their third single on Decca Records and also their last, as it was a unsuccessful as its predecessors. There were however, thoughts about releasing a remixed version of “In The Beginning” as single, too, but these plans were never realized.

“Where The Sour Turns To Sweet” begins with a bluesy piano phrase and the snapping of fingers, giving it a jazzy swing feel. The added strings by Arthur Greenslade really get in the way of this powerful song. The lyrics are already a bit humorously and Peter Gabriel knows how to emphasize the words and use his voice. It definitely is one of the outstanding tracks of the album and has its charm, only the fade-out seems a bit uninspired.

Tony Banks accosted Tony Blackburn in the street

Tony Banks remembers that he was sent to disc jockey, singer and TV presenter Tony Blackburn to accost him in the street and tell him to play the single on his show. Tony Banks said “Well, don’t play the A-side, play the other side” (“In Hiding”). It was an embarrassing situation for both of them, but Blackburn was important enough for the band to risk it.

The end of their relationship with Jonathan King

After the album and all the single releases failed to chart and the band moved into a different musical direction than King, their ways parted. They went to the country to think about their future and write new music. Jonathan King however, had given them one lasting legacy: Their name Genesis.

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Genesis at Reading Festival 1971

Reading Festival Line Up 1973

On June 26, 1971, Genesis appeared at Reading Festival for the first time.

Peter Gabriel had broken his ankle

On their first appearance at Reading Festival, Genesis were low on the bill. Other artists that performed at the festival were Lindisfarne, Terry Reid, Renaissance and Sha Na Na. There were the usual problems that a festival and its visitors have to deal with: Rain, mud and an unscheduled police squad. For Genesis, the gig at Reading followed the incident at the Friars Club, where Peter Gabriel had broken his ankle.

On June 19th, Genesis had played at Friars in Aylesbury and during the encore of “The Knife”, Peter Gabriel had jumped into the crowd. Unfortunately, the audience parted when they saw him coming and he hit the floor, breaking his ankle. Following the incident, he played at least one show in a wheelchair at the art college in Lincoln. Tour manager, roadie, sound engineer and friend of the band Richard Macphail remembers Gabriel cavorting in the wheelchair on the stage, which was a traditional theatre stage that sloped forward towards the audience. He thought that Peter was going to fall off the stage and break his neck. Luckily, he did not and the band could play Reading Festival at June 26, 1971.

Reading Festival

The 11th National Jazz and Blues festival took place in Reading for the first time that year. Before, the event had taken place in Richmond, Windsor, Sunbury and Plumpton, but each time, the locals had complained, so the festival had to move on. The festival usually takes place in August, so admittedly it is a bit unclear to the author why the festival took place on 25, 26, and 27 June 1971. The ticket names the location as “Thames-side Arena, Richfield Avenue” and the festival is titled “Reading Festival of folk and progressive music”. The ticket for Saturday, June 26, cost £1.50.

Over the next few years, the festival would become one of the leading British rock festivals. Not only the greatest bands of the age played there, but it was also the birthplace for future superstars. Organizer Harold Pendleton was allowed to stage the festival in Reading, because the local council wanted to celebrate the town’s 1000th anniversary and really believed it to be a jazz and blues festival, which it had originally been in the 1960s.

Genesis performed on Saturday

In 1971, Genesis was not the only act of Charisma Records that played at Reading Festival. The already mentioned Lindisfarne were there as well as Van der Graaf Generator, and Bell & Arc and Audience. Other notable acts from this year were Arthur Brown, Rory Gallagher, Wishbone Ash, Medicine Head, Osibisa, Ian Matthews and Ralph McTell.

Due to their low billing, Genesis played midafternoon on the second day of the festival. Their performance was highlighted as one of the best of the event, and consequentially, they were invited back for the next two festivals.

During the summer of 1971, Genesis started to appear at outdoor rock festivals. Steve Hackett remembers that it used to rain for the first five years they played at festivals in England or Europe, always resulting in a mud bath. At Reading Festival, the power was fluctuating and the band could not get the organ in tune (and that meant that the Mellotron would be even worse to tune). They also tuned their twelve-string guitars in the dressing rooms and by the time they got on stage, they were already out of tune. Tuning a twelve-string guitar in front of an audience was almost impossible.

Not a festival band

Tony Banks thinks that Genesis were never a good festival group. It was difficult to build a dramatic atmosphere in daylight and most of the audiences did not really understand the long song with lots of chord changes. Also, the sound was mostly rubbish. Nevertheless, they builded a live following and got a reputation of being a good live band for festivals, but the best times were when they could play after dark at the end of a day with their own fans in the audience. However, at their first appearance at Reading, they already got some fans waving their Genesis flag during the gig.

Photo: Reading Festival Line Up 1973. Reading-festivaalin vuoden 1973 esiintyjälista Source: Wikimedia Commons, National Jazz, Blues and Rock Festival. / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Genesis first gig abroad in Belgium

Genesis played their first gig abroad in La Ferme, Woluwe St. Lambert, Belgium on March 7, 1971. This is the story of their first gig overseas.

“Trespass” had charted in Belgium

In early 1971, the band had not yet been very successful in the UK. But things looked different on the continent: Trespass* had reached number one in Belgium. So the band with their new members Phil Collins on drums and Steve Hackett on guitar went to Belgium to play their first gig overseas.

The band could not afford cabins on the ferry

They crossed the channel on the night ferry and arrived the next morning. They had not slept, as they could not afford bunks and had therefore sat overnight on the boat with Phil throwing up. Getting through the day with beer and sandwiches, they drove straight to the gig and played.

The setlist

The setlist included a mixture of songs from Trespass, live favourites and two new songs. As usual during that time, they started with acoustic material and then built up to the heavier numbers. Luckily for us, a recording of the gig exists so we can listen to almost the whole gig (some bits are missing). It also includes the only available recording of the famous song “The Light”, which features embryonic elements of later songs, notably “Lilywhite Lilith”.

Starting with acoustic numbers, the first song was their newest one. “Happy The Man” (introduced by Peter as a song about a “man who eats his fingernails, probably”) is based on a Mike Rutherford riff and includes a Lindisfarne-like sing-along chorus. It was another attempt by the band to produce a hit single. The song was played a bit slower on that gig and has a very laidback attitude. “Stagnation” from Trespass follows (according to Gabriel a song about people “with bad breath”) and Phil’s drumming adds a swing to it that the studio version misses.

The Light

Several minutes and attempts to introduce the band follow, then they play the rare track “The Light”. The bass intro later became the verse of “Lilywhite Lilith” on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway* with Hackett’s guitar parts also being reused. “The Light” then turns into a prog rock song with a long jam between Banks and Hackett until the nice harmony vocals go back into a part that is familiar from the later “Lilywhite Lilith”. In comparison to other songs of the time, “The Light” seems very unusual for Genesis.

A mixture of songs from Trespass, live favourites and new songs

It is getting a bit quieter when “Twilight Alehouse” begins, a live standard at the time in which Tony dominates on the dramatic organ passage in the end. Peter then introduces the other new song “The Musical Box” in English and French and the version is slightly different to the album version. There is some extra music before the “And the clock” part, which is sung twice. Tony’s solo is longer and Steve’s shorter as he had only been in the band for two months. Even the iconic ending of this classic Gabriel-era tune is sung a bit different by Peter.

The Trespass-classic “The Knife” is introduced in French and the whole band rushes into the song. Tony’s organ leads them, Mike’s bass is the driving force, Steve still seems to have some trouble with the guitar solos, but is shining at the end. Peter’s flute part from the middle is unfortunately missing from the recording. The audience seems to have loved it; they applaud enthusiastically. The live classic “Going Out To Get You” is the encore, described by Peter as “A very old number about passion”. Again, Tony leads the band and Steve seems to be non-existent on the track. It even sounds as if he is not playing with the rest of the band on this last song.

It is interesting to listen back to the recording as it not only consists unreleased songs, but also songs that were still being created lyrically and musically. And of course it features the only known recorded version of the rare track “The Light”.

An important gig in Genesis history

The show was a success and a very important gig in Genesis history. At the end of this trip, they too the ferry back home, completely exhausted with Phil limping home, almost collapsing.

Photo: FOH PA mixing desk and associated gear for Genesis at a concert in the Liverpool Empire, 1970s, precise year unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Rodhullandemu / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Peter Gabriel’s first solo gig

Peter Gabriel’s first gig as solo artist took place in the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey on 2, 3 or 5 March 1977.

His first album had come out in February 1977

The album Peter Gabriel* had come out in February and had produced the hit “Solsbury Hill”. Just like for the album, the motto of the following tour was “Expect the Unexpected”. His band was a group of top studio musicians and old friends.

Photo of Tony Levin during his visit to Caracas (Venezuela), playing bass for Peter Gabriel.

Tony Levin was there on bass and has been with Peter since then. The bass player, who had worked among others with Paul Simon, is the only musician from the first album that is still with Peter Gabriel today.

The other musicians on that first gig and the first leg of the tour were Allan Schwartzberg on drums, Larry Fast on synthesizers, Steve Hunter on guitars, Jimmy Maelen on percussion and Phil Aaberg on keyboards.

A bit surprisingly, Robert Fripp, who had been on the album, was also there on guitar; he performed on the tour as “Dusty Rhodes”, often standing behind the amps or offstage, showing once again that he did not like the rock-tour machinery. He also preferred to be introduced by Peter as the totally unknown Dusty Rhodes.

When did they play the first gig?

The first gig of the tour took place in the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey in early March 1977. There are various dates named for his first gig: The 2nd, the 3rd or the 5th. Peter opened the show with “Here Comes the Flood” with just him on vocals and piano and Fripp’s guitar. It was a deliberate and interesting way not only to open the show, but also to present himself as a solo artist. Gone were the days of masks and costumes, here was a simple musician on the piano wearing jogging clothes. On the second song “On the Air”, the whole band set in and the groovy synths woke up the audiences and they went wild. “Moribund The Burgermeister”, which was seen by some as a throwback to Genesis, still sounded a bit stiff. “Solsbury Hill”, his first solo hit that had also introduced him to many American listeners, was also in the set. The songs were not as orchestral as on the album, but more aggressive.

Alongside the songs from Pete’s solo record there were some cover versions in the set. The inclusion of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” was a tribute to Gabriel’s love for soul music, and the Kinks cover “All Day (And All Of The Night)” sounded rather heavy. The almost complete American band was professional, had a lot of fun (you can hear that especially in the R&B cover) and there was a relaxed atmosphere between the musicians, something that a proper band sometimes lacks onstage. Peter seemed to enjoy it a lot.

The fans expected solo and Genesis material

On the encore, he returned with Rael’s leather jacket, jeans and T-Shirt and performed “Back In N.Y.C” from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway*. He knew that the audience expected solo and Genesis material. Throughout the set, some fans had even felt disappointment over the stark staging and that only solo songs were played. But the crowd exploded when Peter came out for the encore of “Back in N.Y.C”. It left them wanting more. And they got it. Peter Gabriel became a successful solo artist with a varied career and a distinctive identity. The fact that he once sang with Genesis only became a footnote when we look back on his career from today’s point of view.

Photo: Peter Gabriel, Chateau Neuf, Oslo, Norway. Description=Peter Gabriel at Chateau Neuf in Oslo, Norway on August 31st 1978 |Source=http://www.helgeoveras.com/gabriel.shtml |Date=August 31st 1978 |Author=Helge Øverås (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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Archive I 1967 – 1975 (1998) – Genesis

In June 1998, Genesis released their first of two “Archive” box sets: “Archive 1967 – 1975” covers the era with Peter Gabriel as lead vocalist.

The plans to release “Archive” box sets dated back to 1994

After the release of their last studio album “Calling All Stations“* in 1997, Genesis began putting together unreleased material from their history. The idea dated back to 1994. Originally there were plans to release three box sets. The first would have featured the Gabriel years, the second the period from the mid 1970’s to the early 80’s and the last the period from the mid 80’s to the early 90’s.

But over the years, there were delays and plans were changed. The recordings were released on two box sets, the first one being “Archive 1967-75“* , released in 1998, the second one being “Genesis Archive 2 1976-1992“*, released in 2000, which covers the era with Phil Collins on lead vocals. Both sets feature unreleased live performances, studio tracks and demo songs.

A complete live performance of “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”

“Archive 1967 – 1975” is a box set that includes four discs. The mixing was done by Genesis producer Nick Davis. The first two discs feature a complete live performance of Genesis’ magnum opus “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway“*. When the band toured the concept album in 1974/75, they played the whole double album. After this tour, Peter Gabriel left the band. The live performance in the box set comes from The Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Peter Gabriel’s stories between songs about the adventures of Rael were left out.

Peter Gabriel re-recorded his vocals at Real World Studios in 1995

Also, it is not a completely “live” recording. Peter Gabriel and former lead guitarist Steve Hackett re-recorded some of their parts in 1995. You can hear the difference in Gabriel’s voice if you compare the studio versions from 1974 to the “live” version on “Archive I”. Gabriel recorded his vocals at his Real World Studios. Also, the last song “It”, fades out because the tape machine at the Shrine ran out halfway through the song.

The live performance in general sounds more powerful than the studio version and the crowd seems to be enthusiastic. Apart from that, the songs are almost identical to the studio versions. The only exception is “The Waiting Room (Evil Jam)”, which was an instrumental with lots of space for improvisation that was therefore played differently every night. Apart from that, especially the title track, “Fly On A Windshield” and “Carpet Crawlers” stand out.

A live performance of “Supper’s Ready” from 1973

Disc 3 includes live performances from the Rainbow Theatre in London, recorded on the “Selling England By the Pound“* tour in 1973. We finally get to hear songs like “Dancing With The Moonlight Knight” and “Supper’s Ready” live with Peter on vocals on an official release. Here, the stories are included. It also features a 1971 BBC recording of “Stagnation” and b-sides and studio tracks from that era like “Twilight Alehouse” and “Happy The Man”.

The last disc is also the most interesting one, at least for the fans. It features songs from the band’s earliest period, still with Anthony Phillips on guitar. There are BBC sessions and many demo songs. You can hear the band “becoming” Genesis on this disc. Some of the tracks are real gems, from the early version of “Dusk” to the appealing “Hey!”. There is an atmosphere in these early recordings that went missing after Ant Phillips left the band.

Apart from the four discs, there is a 82-page booklet which contains the band’s history and interviews with band members and associates.

So “Archive 1967 – 1975” is a quite interesting box set. We finally get to hear official live versions of Gabriel-era songs sung by him. The only official live release with him had been “Live“* from 1973, which only covers songs from “Trespass“*, “Nursery Cryme“* and “Foxtrot“*. The inclusion of b-sides and unreleased studio tracks like “Twilight Alehouse” make this box set special. Some would argue that disc 4 is only for the hardcore fans, but it also is the most surprising and most interesting of the four discs. Unfortunately some rare tracks and demos that are known to exist did not make it onto the box set. But all in all, “Archive 1967-75” is an extraordinary release. Fans seemed to agree with that: It reached no. 35 in the UK charts in 1998.

The band met at Heathrow Airport to promote the release

To promote the release of “Archive I”, Genesis members past and present reunited for a photo shoot (and a following dinner) at Heathrow Airport in May 1998. There were Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, former drummer John Silver, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford. The band’s first drummer Chris Stewart only made it to the dinner. Trespass-era drummer John Mayhew did not attend the event.

Genesis’ next “Archive” release would be in 2000. It would be entitled “Archive II 1976 – 1992” and feature the period with Phil Collins as lead vocalist.

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The last show of “The Lamb” tour

On 22 May 1975, Genesis played the last show of their ambitious “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” tour. It was also their last gig with Peter Gabriel as lead singer.

“The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”

In 1974, Genesis went into the studio to record the album “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway*”. It was a double concept album, based on a complex story by lead singer Peter Gabriel about a Puerto Rican boy named Rael. Rael lives in New York City and is sucked into a netherworld, where he encounters strange characters on his adventures.

The story and the American setting were a break from their earlier tales of British myth and fantasy. Previous to the album, the band had toured North America and were trying to become successful in the United States. It was also (after the failed attempt on their first record) their first real “concept album”, a trademark for many progressive rock bands.

There were tensions going on inside the band, when they wrote the ambitious album. Peter Gabriel wrote the lyrics and the story separately, while his bandmates wrote all the music. Only the lyrics for one song, “The Light Dies Down On Broadway”, were written not by Gabriel, but by Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford. Most of the music came from jam sessions by the trio Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass and guitars) and Phil Collins (drums). Lead guitarist Steve Hackett did not contribute much to the music.

Tensions within the group

There were two main reasons for the split between Gabriel and the rest of the band that overshadowed the making of the album: For one, William Friedkin, director of “The Exorcist*” was interested in working together with Peter Gabriel on a film script. Peter Gabriel was interested and even thought about leaving the band for this project, but Friedkin backed away when he realized that.

The other reason was that Peter’s wife Jill was pregnant with their first child Anna. She was was born in July ’74 and there were some complications in the aftermath. Gabriel started to alienate from the band during that time. He was the first one to have a child and see that there were other opportunities and possibilites in life besides being in a rock band. His inner conflict is also reflected in the story of “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”, for example in the lyrics of “In The Cage”: “Get me out of this cage!”

Up to this day, the album divides fans and critics. Upon its release, “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” received decidedly mixed reviews and was a commercial failure. Ticket sales did not go as well as planned and they had to cancel several shows. Nowadays it is looked upon in a hazy retrospective because it is Gabriel’s last work with the group.

The “Lamb” tour

Peter Gabriel was frustrated by the failure in terms of success and sales, especially because it was his story. For the tour, the band decided to play the entire album live, often to an audience who had never heard it because the tour began before the album was released.

Having become famous for his use of masks and costumes, Peter Gabriel wanted to use visual aspects to underline the story of the album. This time he overused them. Again, he wore costumes, the most famous being the “Slippermen” outfit, which covered him from head to toe and did not allow him to get the microphone close enough to his mouth, so his vocals could not be heard clearly. The band did not like this exaggeration and felt that the costumes and the performance had become the focus of the show to the disadvantage of the music.

The spectacular stage show also brought along some problems. There were slides at the back of the stage and they never were in the right order or stopped and did not move on. One night, a dummy of Peter Gabriel, which used to mirror him during one of the songs, was replaced by a naked roadie. And once when there had to be a small explosion for one song, the production manager caused a big explosion, so loud that the band stopped playing in the middle of the song. He poked his head round the curtain and said “Sorry!” to which Phil Collins shouted back: “You’re fired!”

Peter Gabriel decides to leave Genesis

During the course of the tour, Peter Gabriel decided to leave. It was no surprise to manager Tony Smith and the rest of the band. Smith only wanted Gabriel to finish the tour and announce the news afterwards.

Peter Gabriel played his last gig with Genesis at St Etienne in France in May 1975. It was a strange last gig, because St Etienne was meant to be the penultimate date of the tour, but the final date was cancelled just the day before. And so, Gabriel’s time with Genesis was over. He had founded the band in 1967 with Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford. When it was announced publicly, the fans were greatly shocked. Many doubted if Genesis could survive without him but we know they did and so did he.

Photo: Peter Gabriel in 1975. Photographer unknown. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: Peter_Gabriel,_April_1975.jpg. Unknown author / CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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A Winter’s Tale (1968) – Genesis

On 10 May 1968, Genesis’ second single was released. Like its predecessor and its successor, it flopped. Here’s the tale of “A Winter’s Tale”.

In 1968, Genesis were still at school. The four guys from Charterhouse were in their late teens, when producer Jonathan King decided to offer them a record deal. Tony Banks (keyboards), Peter Gabriel (vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitars), Mike Rutherford (guitars and bass) and Chris Stewart (drums) agreed. King decided to produce their first album himself. The name Genesis was chosen for the band, partly because it was also the beginning of King’s career as a producer.

The first singles

The band had started writing pop songs at school, but by the time they got the record deal, they were already moving into a more adventurous direction. Jonathan King preferred the simpler pop songs. So Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel wrote “The Silent Sun“, a Bee-Gees pastiche, which King loved and which became their first single. The song flopped.

A Winter’s Tale

A Winter’s Tale“* was chosen as the band’s second single. It was also written by Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel, just like “Silent Sun“‘. Both songs are love songs, but on “A Winter’s Tale” the band sounds much more confident, especially in the chorus. Just like in its predecessor, the song’s focus lies on Peter Gabriel’s voice. The band is buried under the heavy string arrangement. Gabriel’s young, but strong voice already hints at what he was able to do later in their and his career.

The single also flopped

The single got very little airplay and was reviewed only twice. But the reviews were rather enthusiastic and the New Musical Express praised the “pulsating crescendo” and the lyrics. Mike Rutherford remembers in his autobiography, that the band thought about how to get more airplay. Peter Gabriel suggested to hand the single to radio presenter Tony Blackburn personally. Tony Banks was given the task to wait outside Broadcasing House. Since he was nervous, he got a bit aggressive when Blackburn came out, which must have frightened him a bit.

From Genesis to Revelation

After the release of “A Winter’s Tale”, drummer Chris Stewart left the group. He was followed by John Silver, who would play the drums on their first album “From Genesis to Revelation“*, which is very different from everything the band has ever done. The album became a sort of concept album about the history of mankind, but the music was still far from being progressive. To the band’s disappointment, King added a string arrangement in the production which made the whole album sound very soft.

Another single was released, “Where The Sour Turns To Sweet”. After the album and all the single releases failed to chart and the band moved into a different musical direction than King, their ways parted. What is left is is an interesting, strong selection of songs recorded by a band in their late teens. One of the tunes is “A Winter’s Tale”. Interestingly, there is a story about a cover Rita Pavone’s brother did of that song, but that is another tale.

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Ray Wilson announced as new lead vocalist

On 6 June 1997, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford of Genesis announce the band’s new lead singer after Phil Collins’ departure: 28 year old Ray Wilson.

When it was announced in March of 1996 that Phil Collins would leave Genesis after 25 years, the public was impatient to know who would become the next lead singer of the band. Genesis had survived the loss of their first singer Peter Gabriel in 1975. And when Phil Collins left the band in 1996, the two remaining members Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (guitars) decided to survive a singer’s loss once more. The two founding members of Genesis started to write and record new songs and tried to find a new singer. Music media suggested several vocalists, until on June 6th 1997, the band announced that Ray Wilson would be their new lead singer.

Ray Wilson

Ray was born in Dumfries, Scotland, on 8 September 1968. He had previously been in a band called Guaranteed Pure and was a frontman for the band Stiltskin. Their biggest hit was the song “Inside”, used in a Levi’s commercial in 1994. The song had reached No. 1 of the charts. So Ray was not an unknown singer when he joined Genesis, but theirs and Stiltskin’s music was worlds apart. So his fans and Genesis fans were both surprised and suspicious.

Ray remembers on the Songbook DVD: “I was in my little studio writing songs. It was ten in the morning, I was making a coffee, and Tony Smith, the manager of Genesis, was on the phone: “Would you like to come and audition to replace Phil Collins?””

In the last years, Phil Collins’ solo success had created an image of “Phil Collins and Genesis”, as if Genesis was the band behind him. Filling out this role and changing this public image, would be very difficult.

Calling All Stations

Ray, Mike and Tony went into the band’s studio “The Farm” in Surrey and recorded the new album “Calling All Stations“*. Most of the songs were already written by Tony and Mike, but Ray was able to add some of his ideas. The album was very dark and melancholic. Phil Collins’ influence on Genesis music, his energy and cheerfulness combined with Mike’s and Tony’s music, was missing. The Genesis chemistry only worked fully when all three of them worked and wrote together.

Ray’s expressive voice worked with the melodramatic music. He did a remarkable job on the album and the following tour. His voice and style was a bit closer to Peter Gabriel’s, but the music on “Calling All Stations” seemed to be closer to its predecessor “We Can’t Dance“. Like “We Can’t Dance”, “Calling All Stations” was produced by Nick Davis.

Three singles were released from the sombre, dark record: “Congo”, “Shipwrecked” and “Not About Us”. Ray co-wrote the last song as well as the songs “Small Talk” and “There Must Be Some Other Way”. The drums on the album were played by Israeli session drummer Nir Zidkyahu and Nick D’Virgilio from American prog band Spock’s Beard.

The critics were not too kind. NMW wrote that “the world doesn’t care enough about Genesis to make the effort” to buy the album and “like the rest of the population, they’ve forgotten why they were once any good”. Q wrote that the album consists of “just darkness, confusion, individual isolation” and described it as “one-paced and one-dimensional.”

Live on tour 1998

On tour, Ray proved that he could sing songs from all the eras. The setlist covered hits like “Invisible Touch”, “No Son Of Mine” or “Follow You Follow Me” (in a lovely acoustic version), younger epics like “Home By The Sea” and Gabriel-era songs like “Carpet Crawlers” and “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. The new material worked well between these songs and some tracks, like the title track, were even better live. Ray, Mike and Tony were accompanied by drummer Nir Zidkyahu and guitarist Anthony Drennan, who filled the roles of Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer.

The album was not as successful as the ones before

But unfortunately the album was not a big commercial success when compared to the albums before. It reached no. 2 in British charts, but only no. 54 in America. Also, ticket sales were not as high was they used to be and the tour had to be minimized in terms of production and venues. The American leg of the tour had to be cancelled completely. So after the 1998 tour, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford decided to put Genesis to rest.

It was not to be the end of Genesis. But back in 1998 it looked like it. Unfortunately, Ray Wilson, who had been thrown into this situation, was even made responsible by some fans and critics. This is simply not fair. Ray has a unique voice and delivered the songs – his own and Peter’s and Phil’s – in a special way.

After the end of Genesis, Ray took some time to recover and has since started a solo career. He releases solo albums and still plays some Genesis and Genesis-related songs during his live shows.

Title photo: Ray Wilson live in Dortmund in 2017 (Photo: André Wilms of “The Photography Of Mister Ilms)“.

Live at the Roundhouse 1970

On 11 March 1970, Genesis played one of their biggest gigs of their early career at the Atomic Sunrise Festival at the Roundhouse Club in London. The event featured artists like David Bowie and Hawkwind and was sponsored by Yoko Ono. A few weeks later Genesis signed to the Charisma label.

Genesis in early 1970

At the beginning of 1970, Genesis were writing and rehearsing new music for their second album. Their debut album* had failed to chart and they had quit their contract with producer Jonathan King and the Decca label. The new songs were more adventurous and experimental and far from the pop tunes of their first album. The band consisted of Peter Gabriel (vocals), Tony Banks (keyboards), Ant Phillips (lead guitar), Mike Rutherford (guitar and bass) and John Mayhew (drums).

Genesis opened for David Bowie at the Roundhouse

The band and its members were still very young at the time and far from being famous. So the infamous hippie-festival at the Roundhouse was their biggest gig then. Especially as they were booked to open for David Bowie.

Both Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel were huge fans of David Bowie. Space Oddity* had been released the year before and Bowie was a rock star already. In these days, Bowie and his band appeared on stage in a very theatrical way. Gabriel was impressed and a little later, he used costumes and masks onstage himself. His outfits and theatrical performances leaped Genesis on another level in terms of popularity. Tony Banks on the other hand was a bit disappointed that Bowie and his band put so much focus on the visuals instead of the music. Unbeknownst to them, this gig might have been the beginning of a conflict within Genesis. The conflict grew when Peter Gabriel himself started to dress up and the other band members felt that the stage show distracted from the music more and more.

Yoko Ono sponsored the “Atomic Sunrise Festival” at the Roundhouse

At the festival, the band played songs that would appear on their second album Trespass* later that year. Video snippets exist that show the band performing “Looking For Someone” and “The Knife”. Apparently, “Twilight Alehouse” was also played. Ant Phillips jokingly admits that this footage is the only visual proof that he ever performed with the band.

Althought the gig was a big one for the band, they were not too happy. Peter Gabriel remembers that there were more people onstage than in front of the stage. Ant Phillips was frightened and nervous. His stage fright was one of the reasons he left the group later that year.

Still, Tony Banks and Ant Phillips were both impressed by the professionality behind the scenes. Every gig of the festival was recorded on 8 track equipment and parts of it were filmed. As Yoko Ono sponsored the gig, there might be a chance that the complete film footage still exists in the Apple archive.

A couple of weeks after the gig, Genesis would sign their new contract with Charisma and later in the year release their second album Trespass. Ant Phillips left the same year and a new drummer took over in summer of 1970…but that’s another story.

Title photo: Genesis mixing desk 2 – Revox A77 and associated gear for Genesis at a concert in the Liverpool Empire, 1970s, precise year unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Rodhullandemu / CC-BY-SA-2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0).

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