Genesis are an English rock band formed in 1967. With approximately 150 million albums sold worldwide, Genesis are among the top 30 highest-selling recording artists of all time. In 1988, the band won the Grammy Award for Best Concept Music Video. The longest-tenured members of Genesis are Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks. Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips and Steve Hackett were also notable members of the band in its early days.
Genesis began as a 1960s pop band playing moody, simple keyboard-driven melodies. During the 1970s, they evolved into a progressive rock band, incorporating complex song structures and elaborate instrumentation, while their concerts became theatrical experiences with innovative stage design, pyrotechnics, elaborate costumes and onstage stories. This second phase was characterised by lengthy performances such as the 23 minute "Supper's Ready" and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, the 1974 concept album. In the 1980s, the band produced accessible pop music based on melodic hooks; this change of direction gave them their first number one album in the United Kingdom, Duke, and their only number one single in the United States, "Invisible Touch".
Genesis has changed personnel several times. Founding member Anthony Phillips left the band in 1970 due to stage fright. In 1975, Collins, then the band's drummer, replaced Gabriel as lead singer after a lengthy search for a replacement. To facilitate Collins's move to lead vocals during concerts, Bill Bruford, and later Chester Thompson, played drums for the band, with Collins joining in briefly during lengthy instrumental passages. After Phil Collins left the band in 1996, Genesis recruited Ray Wilson (formerly of Stiltskin), who appeared on the 1997 album Calling All Stations. As a result of the commercial failure of Calling All Stations, the band announced an indefinite hiatus. However, in 2007, Banks, Collins and Rutherford reunited for a 20-city tour of Europe and North America, which included a free concert at Rome's Circo Massimo in front of 500,000 fans.
1967–1969: The beginning
Genesis was formed in 1967 when Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks were students at Charterhouse School in Godalming. Formed out of school bands Garden Wall and The Anon, Genesis's original line-up consisted of Peter Gabriel (vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitar), Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass & guitar) and Chris Stewart (drums). The group originally formed as a songwriting partnership with no intention of performing, but decided to start playing their own music when they were unable to find anyone else willing to record it.
Charterhouse School alumnus Jonathan King hosted a concert at Charterhouse in 1968 while the band was still in school. Following the concert, Gabriel gave King a tape of songs the band had recorded and King thought enough of them to sign them to a recording contract. King was a songwriter and record producer who had a hit single at the time, "Everyone's Gone to the Moon". King named the band Genesis (after previously suggesting the name Gabriel's An ), recalling that he had "thought it was a good name... it suggested the beginning of a new sound and a new feeling."
The resulting album, From Genesis to Revelation, was released on Decca Records in March 1969. During the sessions, Stewart was replaced by John Silver on drums. The band recorded a series of songs influenced by the light pop style of the Bee Gees, one of King's favourite bands at the time. King assembled the tracks as a concept album, and added string arrangements during the production. Their first single, "The Silent Sun", was released in February 1968. The album sold poorly but the band, on advice from King, decided to pursue a career in music. King holds the rights to the songs on the From Genesis to Revelation album and has re-released it many times under a variety of names, including In the Beginning, Where the Sour Turns to Sweet, Rock Roots: Genesis, ...And the Word Was and, most recently, The Genesis of Genesis.
Silver was replaced by John Mayhew before the recording of Trespass. Genesis then secured a new recording contract with Charisma Records. The band built a following through live performances which featured the band's hypnotic, dark and haunting melodies and Gabriel's numerous eye-catching costumes.
Trespass was the template for the band's albums in the 1970s – lengthy, sometimes operatic, pieces, and occasional short, humorous numbers resembling the style of progressive rock bands such as King Crimson, YesGentle Giant. Trespass included progressive rock elements such as elaborate arrangements and time signature changes, as in the nine-minute song "The Knife". and
Ill health and recurring stage fright caused Phillips to leave the band in 1970. Phillips later recorded many solo albums, of which The Geese and the Ghost features Phil Collins on vocals. Phillips's departure traumatised Banks and Rutherford, causing the band to doubt whether it could continue However, the remaining members decided to carry on, replacing Mayhew with Phil Collins on drums and Steve Hackett, formerly of Quiet World, on guitar to replace Phillips.
1970–1975: The Peter Gabriel years
Collins and Hackett made their studio debut in 1971 on Nursery Cryme, which features the epic "The Musical Box" and Collins's first lead vocal performance in "For Absent Friends", the song was also the first written by new members Collins and Hackett within the band. Two engineers were hired and then quit before John Burns, and this began a successful three-album collaboration between Burns and the group. Foxtrot was released in October 1972 and contains what has been described as "one of the group's most accomplished works", the 23-minute multi-part epic "Supper's Ready". Songs such as the Arthur C. Clarke-inspired "Watcher of the Skies" solidified their reputation as songwriters and performers. Gabriel's flamboyant and theatrical stage presence, which involved numerous and elaborate costumes and surreal spoken song introductions, made the band a popular live act. Genesis Live, was recorded on the Foxtrot tour in 1973, shortly before the band's upcoming album was released.. took over during the recording of their next album
Selling England by the Pound was released in November 1973 and was well received by critics and fans.Labour Party slogan, in an effort to counter the impression that Genesis were becoming too US-orientated. The album contains "Firth of Fifth" and "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)"; these songs became part of their live repertoire, with the latter becoming their first charting single, reaching #17 on the UK singles charts. Gabriel insisted on the title, a reference to a current
During this period Hackett became an early user of the electric guitar "tapping" technique, which was later popularized by Eddie Van Halen, as well as "sweep-picking", which was popularised in the 1980s by Yngwie Malmsteen. These virtuoso guitar techniques were incorporated in the song "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight". At the same time, the band signed with new manager Tony Smith, who published all subsequent Genesis songs through his company Hit & Run Music Publishing.
In 1974, Genesis undertook a double disc concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway which was released on 18 November. In contrast to the lengthy tracks featured on earlier albums The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is a collection of shorter tracks, connected by a number of segues. The story describes the spiritual journey of Rael, a Puerto Rican youth living in New York City, and his quest to establish his freedom and identity. During his adventure, Rael encounters several bizarre characters including the Slippermen and The Lamia, the latter being borrowed from Greek mythology and influenced by a poem by Keats.
The band embarked on a world tour to promote the album, performing it 102 times in its entirety, with Gabriel adding spoken narration. During their live performances, Genesis pioneered the use of lasers and other light effects, most of which were built by the Dutch technician Theo Botschuijver. A customised handheld unit was used to channel laser light, which allowed Gabriel to sweep the audience with various light effects.
Creating the ambitious The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album strained relations between band members, particularly Banks and Gabriel. Gabriel wrote the lyrics, while the other band members wrote the music, with the exception of "Counting Out Time" and "The Carpet Crawlers". "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" was co-authored by Banks and Rutherford. The other-worldly, blurbling, sequenced synth sounds and shattering glass loops in the track "The Waiting Room", as well as the vocal effects in the track "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" coined "Enossifications", were produced by the ambient composer Brian Eno.
During the Lamb tour, Gabriel announced to his bandmates that he had decided to leave the band, citing estrangement from the other members, and the strains of his marriage and the difficult birth of his first child. Nonetheless, he saw his commitment through to the conclusion of the tour, which ended anti-climactically in a cancelled gig at Besançon in Eastern France. In a letter to fans, delivered through the music press at the end of the tour, entitled Out, Angels Out, Gabriel explained that the "...vehicle we had built as a co-op to serve our songwriting became our master and had cooped us up inside the success we had wanted. It affected the attitudes and the spirit of the whole band. The music had not dried up and I still respect the other musicians, but our roles had set in hard." Collins later remarked that the other members "...were not stunned by Peter's departure because we had known about it for quite a while." The band decided to carry on without Gabriel.
1976–1977: The 4 man era
The group auditioned lead singers to find a replacement for Gabriel. Phil Collins, who had provided backing vocals, coached prospective replacements. Eventually, the band decided to use Collins as the lead vocalist for 1976's A Trick of the Tail. The new producer David Hentschel, who had served as engineer on Nursery Cryme, gave the album a clearer-sounding production. Critics noted that Collins sounded "more like Gabriel than Gabriel did".
Despite the success of the album, the group remained concerned with their live shows, which now lacked Gabriel's elaborate costume changes and dramatic behaviour. Since Collins required the assistance of a second drummer while he sang, Bill Bruford, drummer for Yes and King Crimson was hired[ for the 1976 tour. Their first live performance without Peter Gabriel was on 26 March 1976, in London, Ontario Canada.
Later that year, Genesis recorded Wind & Wuthering, the first of two albums recorded at the Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek in the Netherlands. Released in December 1976, the album took its name from Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights, whose last lines—"how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth"—inspired the titles of the seventh and eighth tracks.
For the 1977 Genesis tour, the jazz fusion-trained Chester Thompson—a veteran of Weather Report and Frank Zappa—took on live drumming duties. Collins's approach to Genesis shows differed from the theatrical performances of Gabriel, and his interpretations of older songs were lighter and more subtle. At the 1982 Milton Keynes reunion show, Gabriel admitted that Collins sang the songs "better", though never "quite like" him.
Guitarist Hackett had become increasingly disenchanted with the band by the time of Wind & Wuthering's release, and he felt confined. He was the first member of the band to record a solo album, 1975's Voyage of the Acolyte, and greatly enjoyed the feelings of control over the recording process that working within a group could not provide. Hackett had asked that a quarter of Wind & Wuthering be allocated to Hackett's songs, which Collins described as "a dumb way to work in a band context".While Hackett was given songwriting credits on the two instrumental tracks "Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers..."/"...In That Quiet Earth" , the Hackett/Collins's "Blood on the Rooftops" was never performed live, and his song "Please Don't Touch" (which appeared as the title track to his next solo album released in 1978) was rejected by the rest of the band, who opted for the shorter and catchier three-minute instrumental "Wot Gorilla?" which closes Side 1 of the Wind & WutheringSpot the Pigeon E.P. while the band was in the studio mixing together the live album Seconds Out. album. Hackett left the band following the release of the 1977
The acclaimed Seconds Out live album was recorded during the 1976 and 1977 tours and was to be Hackett's final release with Genesis. Rutherford took on guitar duties in the studio, and during live performances alternated guitar and bass with the session musician Daryl Stuermer.
1978–1979: And Then There Were Three
Following the departure of Hackett, Rutherford took on guitar duties in the studio and the band was getting closer to a balance of what each member provided from a creative standpoint. The group decided to continue as a trio, a fact they acknowledged in the title of the 1978 album ...And Then There Were Three.... The album was a further move away from lengthy progressive epics, and yielded their first American radio hit, "Follow You, Follow Me", whose popularity led to ...And Then There Were Three... being the band's first U.S. Platinum-certified album.
For live performances that year, Rutherford alternated again between guitar and bass with Daryl Stuermer, formerly guitarist with Jean-Luc Ponty's band. Generally, Rutherford played the guitar pieces he composed during the most recent album, but stuck with bass playing for all of the material recorded prior to 1978. Stuermer effectively played everything that Hackett would have performed had he remained with the band. Their 1978 world tour took them across North America, over to Europe, back to North America, and, eventually, to their first performances in Japan at the end of 1978.
As the band had been recording and touring constantly since the winter of 1977–78, it was decided by Banks, Collins, and Rutherford to take the majority of 1979 off. Collins had previously informed his bandmates that he needed to attempt to save his marriage by following his wife to her new home in Vancouver. If they planned to go back into the studio, they were going to have to count him out. Banks and Rutherford responded by proposing that the band go into hiatus for the majority of 1979 while he sorted out his family issues and they would record solo material in the meantime.
1980–1984: Breakout mainstream success
After his attempt to save his marriage (which ended in divorce), Collins returned to the UK in August 1979, and found himself in a holding pattern while Banks and Rutherford were working on solo recordings. With time to spare and new equipment in his home, Collins immersed himself in the recording of home demos that would become his first solo album Face Value (released in 1981) and provide two songs for the upcoming Genesis project. In addition, he rejoined Brand X for their 1979 tour, and appeared on their album Product. When the three bandmates came back together to begin recording their next album Duke the product was much more the result of all three working together equally. Duke was the real transition from their 1970s progressive rock sound to the 1980s pop era. The use of a drum machine became a consistent element on subsequent Genesis albums, as well as on Collins's solo releases. The first Genesis song to feature a drum machine was the Duke track "Duchess". The more commercial Duke was well received by the mainstream media, and was the band's first UK number one album, while the tracks "Misunderstanding" and "Turn It On Again" became live performance favourites.
Duke was followed by Abacab, which features a collaboration with the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section on the track "No Reply at All." Much of the album's rehearsals took place at The Farm, the band's newly-built studio in Surrey, and the site where all of their subsequent albums were recorded. The album used a forceful drum sound which used an effect called gated reverb, which uses a live—or artificially reverberated—sound relayed through a noise gate set, which rapidly cuts off when a particular volume threshold is reached. This results in a powerful "live" sounding, yet controlled, drum ambience. The distinctive sound was first developed by Peter Gabriel, Collins, and their co-producer/engineer Hugh Padgham, when Collins was recording the backing track for "Intruder", the first song on Gabriel's 1980 solo album. The technique, in addition to Padgham's production, had been apparent on Face Value (1981), Collins's debut solo album. The "gated" drum sound would become an audio trademark of future Genesis and Collins albums.
In 1982, the band released the live double album Three Sides Live. The U.S. version contains three sides of live material—hence the album's title—in addition to a side of studio material. The studio material includes the song "Paperlate", which again features an Earth, Wind and Fire horn section. In the UK and the rest of Europe, the studio material was replaced by a fourth side of live recordings from previous tours. 1982 closed with a one-off performance alongside Gabriel and Hackett at the Milton Keynes Bowl, under the name Six of the Best. The concert was hastily put together to help raise money for Gabriel's WOMAD project, which at the time was suffering from considerable financial hardship. Hackett, who arrived late from South Africa, performed the final two songs ("I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" and "The Knife") of the show with his former bandmates.
1983's eponymous Genesis album became their third consecutive number one album in the UK. The album includes the radio-friendly tracks "Mama" and "That's All", and re-introduced the band's flair for lengthy pieces in "Home by the Sea". The track "Just a Job to Do" was later used as the theme song for the 1985's ABC detective drama The Insiders. The album became a worldwide success, although somewhat unusually for a Genesis album, it provides no "extra" material. The sessions from the previous five studio albums dating back to 1976's A Trick of the Tail had all generated other songs that would be released as b-sides to singles or on EPs. Any other song ideas were held back for solo projects, in which all three members were, by this time, heavily involved.
1985–1996: Height of popularity and Collins's departure
Genesis's highest-selling album, Invisible Touch, was released in 1986, at the height of Collins's popularity as a solo artist. The album yielded five U.S. Top 5 singles: "Throwing It All Away", "In Too Deep", "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight", "Land of Confusion" and "Invisible Touch". The title track reached #1 in the United States; the only Genesis song to do so; however, it stalled at #15 in the UK. In 1987, Genesis became the first band to sell out four consecutive nights at Wembley Stadium. Genesis were the first band to use Vari*Lite technology, and the Prism sound system, all of which are now standard features of arena rock concerts.
Earlier that year, Collins viewed a spoof of himself on Spitting Image, a satirical British television show which used puppets to lampoon politicians and celebrities. He was impressed with the representation, and commissioned the show's creators, Peter Fluck and Roger Law, to work on the video for the "Land of Confusion" single. The video was formed as an ironic commentary on the Cold War, and played on the perception that the coalition's leaders were "trigger happy" with the nuclear "button". In addition to puppet representations of Banks, Collins and Rutherford, the video showed Ronald Reagan dressed as Superman. It was nominated for the MTV Video of the Year, losing to Gabriel's "Sledgehammer".
"Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" was used in a Michelob commercial—as was Collins's "In the Air Tonight"—while "In Too Deep" was featured in the film Mona Lisa. The instrumental "The Brazilian", appeared in the animated movie When the Wind Blows, alongside a score written by Roger Waters. At the 1988 Prince's Trust concert held in the Royal Albert Hall, Collins and Gabriel performed together for the first time since 1982. Collins was drummer for the house band, while Gabriel performed his hit single "Sledgehammer". As of September 2007, the two Genesis frontmen have not publicly played together since, although they did play together at Gabriel's wedding in 2002.
After a hiatus of five years, Genesis reconvened for the 1991 release of We Can't Dance, which was to be Collins's last studio album with the group. The album features the hit singles "Jesus He Knows Me", "I Can't Dance", "No Son of Mine", "Hold on My Heart", "Tell Me Why" and "Never a Time" (a U.S. release only), as well as lengthy pieces such as "Driving the Last Spike" and "Fading Lights". The album which was produced by Nick Davis includes "Since I Lost You", which Collins wrote in memory of Eric Clapton's son Conor.
Collins left the band in March 1996. He reasoned that he "felt it time to change direction in my musical life. For me now, it will be music for movies, some jazz projects, and of course my solo career. I wish the guys in Genesis all the very best in their future. We remain the best of friends."
1997–2005: Calling All Stations and indefinite hiatus
Rutherford and Banks decided to continue as Genesis. However, they required more than one new member, because the band had lost not only Collins, but also the live musicians Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson. Stuermer was approached, but was touring with Collins at the time; Thompson inquired regarding the vacant drum stool, but after he was refused full-band membership, he ended his 19-year association with the band. Eventually, drumming duties were shared between Nir Zidkyahu, an Israeli session drummer who had played with Hidden Persuaders, and Nick D'Virgilio, from the progressive rock band Spock's Beard. The difference in their playing styles was marked; D'Virgilio played softer, more subtle rhythms in comparison to Zidkyahu's bombastic technique.
Ex-Stiltskin singer Ray Wilson was appointed as the new lead singer of Genesis. Other candidates had included Paul Carrack from Rutherford's Mike and the Mechanics, Francis Dunnery (ex-It Bites), Alan Barton (ex-Black Lace) and ex-Marillion vocalist—and two-time Banks collaborator—Fish. Kevin Gilbert was offered an audition just before his death in 1996. On the band's criteria in the search for a singer, Banks noted: "We needed someone who fits as many of the things you require as possible—being able to improvise with the kind of music we write and also someone capable of jumping in at the deep end and fronting a band." Wilson was immediately incorporated into the songwriting process, being given "half-a-dozen" songs to work on and ending up with three co-writing credits on the final album.
1997's Calling All Stations sold well in Europe, while the track "Congo" reached #29 in the UK. The album was not successful in America, where it failed to reach the Billboard Top 50. During 1997 and 1998, Genesis toured across Europe; Banks, Rutherford, and Wilson were joined live by Zidkyahu and the guitarist Anthony Drennan, who previously worked with Paul Brady and The Corrs. However, a planned American tour was cancelled due to the album's poor sales performance. Following the truncation of the Calling All Stations tour, Genesis dismissed Wilson and went on an extended hiatus, although the members remained in regular contact. In an April 2007 interview, Wilson expressed his disgust at how his dismissal was handled, saying "it was like death by silence." He also said he regretted his time spent with the band, feeling uncomfortable as a self-described "working class" man with the wealthier likes of Banks and Rutherford, and also revealed one of Phil Collins's assistants told him Collins "wasn't happy that they had continued".
In 1999, the 1971–75 lineup of Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett and Rutherford recorded a new version of "The Carpet Crawlers" for the Turn It On Again: The Hits compilation. In 2000, Collins, Banks, and Rutherford performed acoustic renditions of "I Can't Dance," "Invisible Touch," "Follow You, Follow Me," and "Turn It On Again" at the Music Managers Forum, in honour of their manager Tony Smith. Most of the original members were involved in compiling the two Archive boxed-sets. Acoustic versions of "Afterglow", "No Son of Mine" and "Follow You, Follow Me" were recorded for a documentary film about the band's history at this time.
2006–present: Reunion and future
After much speculation regarding a reunion, Banks, Collins and Rutherford announced Turn It On Again: The Tour on 7 November 2006; nearly 40 years after the band first formed. The tour took place during Summer 2007, and played twelve countries across Europe, followed by a second leg in North America. The trio had wanted to reunite as a five-piece with Gabriel and Hackett for a live performance of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. While Gabriel reportedly agreed in principle to perform, he was unable to commit to a date. Collins later observed that "Peter is a little over-cautious about going back to something which fundamentally is just fun". Hackett agreed to participation, but without Peter joining in on the tour, Phil, Tony and Mike thought that it would be more appropriate to bring back Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer. Hackett, however still maintains good relations with the rest of the band. A short note expressing his good wishes for the reunion tour currently appears on his Web site.
The band and long-time producer, Nick Davis, remastered their back catalogue for release in three batches over the course of 2007 and 2008, each comprising a third of the band's albums (from Trespass to Calling All Stations) in a boxset-style release. Each album is presented as a double-disc set containing a multi-channel hybrid Super Audio CD, as well as a DVD-Video with DTS 24bit/96K and Dolby Digital 24bit/48K 5.1 tracks. The DVDs also include extras such as promo videos, live performances, TV appearances, tour programmes and new interviews in which the band discuss the period surrounding each album. (For the US and Canada pressings, the audio discs are regular CDs and not SACD hybrids.) These remasters were released in three box sets: Genesis 1976-1982 in May 2007, Genesis 1983-1998 in October 2007, and Genesis 1970-1975 in November 2008, in addition to each album being released individually. Each box set contains the albums from its designated time period, as well as a bonus CD/DVD-A of non-album tracks.
On 12 May 2007, the band were honourees at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors, along with Ozzy Osbourne, Heart and ZZ Top. The setlist was, "Turn It On Again", "No Son of Mine" and "Los Endos" the performance aired on VH-1 in the US on 24 May 2007. On 11 June 2007 Genesis officially kicked off their 2007 Turn It On Again World Tour in Helsinki, Finland. The band performed over 50 shows in several countries including Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Poland, France, Italy, Great Britain, the United States and Canada. The German show was broadcast live to several cinemas across the UK and Europe. On 7 July 2007, Genesis participated at Live Earth, a series of concerts to promote action to confront global climate change at the new Wembley Stadium in London, along with other artists including Madonna, Duran Duran and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In an August 2007 interview, Collins has stated that the recording of a new album is currently "very, I repeat, very unlikely" [emphasis in original], citing a lack of both time and inspiration. However, Banks, on 22 August, stated "The three of us would be quite keen to have a go and see what happens."
On 2 October, Starbucks released the CD Sampler Genesis: 14 From Our Past. The track list is: "The Knife", "Happy The Man", "Watcher of the Skies", "I Know What I Like", "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", "Squonk", "Your Own Special Way", "Follow You, Follow Me", "Turn It On Again", "Abacab", "That's All", "Land of Confusion", "Hold on My Heart", and "Congo".
An album of the reunion tour, entitled 'Live Over Europe 2007' was released in November of that year. The tracklist features a balanced set list covering most of their career. None of the songs recorded during Ray Wilson's time with the band were featured. In addition to the aforementioned album, sound deck recordings of each show were released by "The Music" A DVD of the concert on 14 July 2007 in Rome's Circo Massimo, When in Rome 2007] was released May on 26th A microsite has been launched to accompany the release: www.wheninromedvd.com.
In an interview to celebrate the release of the Genesis: 1970-1975 boxset, Tony Banks revealed that it is a possibility that the band may reunite with Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett. He said: "We've never said never about it, you know. I know Phil (Collins) would be quite happy with the idea of just playing the drums; it would be quite fun for him. Mike (Rutherford) and I are certainly happy to do it. I know Steve (Hackett) is keen as well. I think it'd be down to Peter (Gabriel) more than anyone else."
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