My Favorite Band, Genesis
Genesis has been my favorite band since I was 13 years old. That’s when my journey started with collecting all their albums, reading up on the history of the band, buying videos of their concerts, and even catching them live during their We Can’t Dance tour in 1992. Most people know Genesis as the mega pop-rock trio with Phil Collins at the helm and some know Genesis as a five piece Progressive rock band from the 1970’s with Peter Gabriel as lead singer. For me, Genesis is all those things and so much more. In my opinion, this is a band that never made a bad album or for that matter a bad song. A band that switched singers at their height in the 70’s and never missed a beat. I like both fractions (Gabriel/Collins) of Genesis equally and I’m also a big fan of Gabriel and Collins’ solo works. Here’s a glimpse into their history and how I became a Genesis fan.
HISTORY OF GENESIS
Classmates Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks formed Genesis in England in 1967. They were just teenagers when they started the band that was originally called The Garden Wall. Soon after that they teamed with two other classmates, Mike Rutherford, who had a band called The Anon and Anthony Phillips. Along with Gabriel (lead vocals), Banks (piano and keyboards), Rutherford (bass and guitar), Phillips (guitar), and Chris Stewart (drums), the group was discovered, got a record deal, and had their name changed to Genesis. They had their first single, The Silent Sun, released in 1968 and their first album, From Genesis to Revelation, released in 1969 with new drummer John Sliver. This album had a typical British pop sound of the late 60’s and wasn’t really the sound Genesis wanted for their band. Also the album didn’t sell very well and didn’t have a big impact on the British music scene.
In 1970, Genesis got a new record deal with an up and coming label, Charisma Records. Along with yet another drummer, John Mayhew, Genesis recorded their second album, Trespass, which gave birth to the new Genesis sound and the sound that they would become known by for the next decade. Their music was more Progressive rock with tons of instrumentally driven songs that lasted over five minutes. Most of their music had a haunting and mystical feel to it with a hard rock edge. Soon after the release of Trespass, Phillips and Mayhew left the band and Genesis was in search for their replacements. They found them in guitarist, Steve Hackett and former child actor now drummer, Phil Collins. This line-up would remain the same for the next five years.
Throughout the early 70’s, Genesis slowly developed a fan following in mostly European countries, mainly Italy. They would release some of their best albums in the next four years with Nursery Cryme (1971), Foxtrot (1972), featuring the twenty-three minute epic, Super’s Ready, Selling England by the Pound (1973), and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway(1974), a double concept album. Genesis was noted for Bank’s organ and keyboard driven songs, which were very powerful. It was a perfect match with the vocals of Gabriel, the awesome guitar playing of Hackett, the drumming of Collins, and the bass-guitar playing of Rutherford. Genesis was also known for their theatrics on tour. To make the band stand out from other groups, Gabriel would often dress up in costumes that would represent their songs. For their 1974-75 tour they preformed the whole Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album live. Gabriel would dress in costume to go with the story, which was about a Puerto Rican named Rael roaming through the streets of New York City looking for his brother John and encountering strange characters and situations. Soon after the tour ended, Gabriel left the band from being burned out, missing his family, and wanting to work on projects of his own. Genesis now searched for a new lead singer.
After going through painful auditions for lead singers in 1976, they decided to let Phil Collins be the lead and play drums as well. Collins had sang on a few songs on some of the albums and although wasn’t the same type of singer as Gabriel, they had a few similarities in their voice that would be a natural fit for the band. They released A Trick of the Tail in 1976 and later that same year was the release of Wind & Wuthering. They went out on tour in 1976 and ’77 and the fans accepted Collins as the lead. Gone were the costumes and now left was just rock ‘n’ roll. For live shows only, they had a fill in drummer while Collins sang. First fill in was Yes and King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford then later in ’77, Frank Zappa and Weather Report drummer Chester Thompson was the main fill in guy. There’s always a second drum kit on stage so Collins can get on during instrumentals.
…And Then They Were Three…, happens to be the titled of their 1978 album. Steve Hackett had left the group to start a solo career, so the band decided to become a three-piece in the studio, with Rutherford doing the entire guitar parts. They would enlist a guitarist for touring and got Daryl Stuermer. He and Thompson still remain with the band on tours to this day. Their new album would bring them their first U.S. hit, Follow You, Follow Me. This would bring Genesis in a new direction in the start of the new decade, where they would make more radio friendly songs.
Throughout the 1980’s, the band released Duke (1980), Abacab (1981), their self titled album, Genesis (1983) and Invisible Touch (1986), all of these albums had mega hits and the new commercialized Genesis was born. Although the band still had their great and unique sound they had back in the 70’s with their albums of the 80’s, which still focused on powerful instrumental songs. Close to this time is when my interested in the band started to develop and my journey into the musical world of Genesis would begin.
DISCOVERY OF GENESIS
The first time I had an interest in Genesis, was before I even heard a single note. Their album covers is what caught my eye. It was the late 70’s and my Uncle was a fan of the band. As a kid, I use to look through his album collection and look at all the weird covers. He also had albums from Yes and Pink Floyd, but it was the Genesis covers that amazed me. Just looking at covers like Foxtrot, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and A Trick of the Tail, I thought these pictures were really cool and strange at the same time. Back then, I had no idea who this band was and what their music sounded like, but it wasn’t until the next decade is when my interest in their music grew.
It was probably around 1984 when I heard a song on the radio and also heard it during an episode of Miami Vice and that song was Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight. It became one of my favorite songs and couldn’t wait to hear it on the radio again. My favorite part was the rapid drums during the breakdown of the song. Shortly after that I became a Phil Collins fan. He had just released his third solo album, No Jacket Required in early 1985 and had tons of hits off that album. I soon realized that he was the lead singer of Genesis, which I thought were done at the time and Collins was just a solo artist now. The only thing I knew about Genesis then was that they were a band from the 70’s and Collins sang for them. My Uncle had a poster of the band down in our basement from their 1978 tour. That’s how I knew Collins was from that band, but still never heard any of their songs. The following year I would finally discover Genesis.
In the summer of 1986, Genesis came out with a new album, Invisible Touch. Songs were soon pumped out on the radio and videos were being played on TV. I then realized that Genesis never went away and being a Collins fan all ready, I gave Genesis a listen. I remember really liking the song, Land of Confusion and couldn’t wait to hear it on the radio again and again. I also liked the song Tonight, Tonight, Tonight, which was being played on a Michelob beer commercial that Genesis had done. (There was also a Michelob commercial with In the Air Tonight.) One of my best friends, Craig, was also into Genesis. He got me into another singer who had an album out that summer and it was Peter Gabriel. At the time I had no idea he use to sing with Genesis, but Craig filled me in on that.
On Christmas 1986, I got a cassette of Invisible Touch, which was my first Genesis album I got. It was great to hear the songs from the radio anytime I want now and I discovered some other good tunes on the album. Once the New Year rang in, the city finally got a ton of cable channels, one being MTV. 1987 was a great time and I was excited about finally getting MTV. That same Christmas, we got our first VCR and I went crazy taping video after video. MTV showed all of Genesis’ new videos and some old ones. This is the year I truly discovered the band and learned a lot about them. I remember watching a documentary on the band on MTV and in that one night summed up the group. I saw footage of Gabriel with the band for the first time and saw some old Collins performances from the late 70’s. They also showed a Genesis concert from their Abacab tour, which was called Three Sides Live. This is when I saw how good they were live. Some bands can’t pull off playing live because most of the magic is created in the studio, but Genesis upped their game in concerts and made their songs even better when they played them live.
I slowly started my Genesis album collection that year picking up as many cassettes I could find. The next album I wanted to get was from the early Collins years and I picked up A Trick of the Tail, which became my favorite Genesis album of all time. I finally got to hear the non-commercial/non-pop rock Genesis and I loved it. Although I still liked their newer stuff the older music is always my favorite. It wasn’t like anything I heard before and it seemed deeper than any other artist I had listened to during that time. I went through my Uncle’s collection to see what tape I wanted to get next. He had only collected them up until Duke. I got a few more Collins Genesis albums including their live album, Three Sides Live, and then I wanted to get a Gabriel one. My first Gabriel Genesis album was Foxtrot and once I heard that I was blown away. There’s some great music on that album and the epic Super’s Ready is a classic piece of music. Soon after that, I got Selling England by the Pound and I was very impressed with that album. At that moment Genesis became my all time favorite band. Here’s a group that has three stages to them, two in Progressive rock with Gabriel and Collins in the 70’s and the other a commercially successful pop-rock band in the 80’s and I liked all entities of them.
By Christmas ’87, I had every single Genesis album (including their live ones) in my collection accept one. The one album I wanted to get was The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and it was very hard to find. Finally in early 1988, I found the album that would become my favorite Genesis album next to Trick of the Tail. The Lamb is a masterpiece. I’ve always enjoyed looking at my Uncle’s record of Lamb. Inside the album cover had the story of Rael and it was very weird, but cool at the same time. Genesis’ music always felt that it would go good in a movie. It was very epic and descriptive. I would listen to the music and would imagine the visuals that they sung about. It was very inspiring and during that time it helped me creatively come up with short stories ideas. That year I started writing short horror stories and Genesis’ music inspired me greatly.
Some of their live albums were my favorites like Three Sides Live, as I mentioned before, Seconds Out which was them live from 1976-77 and Genesis Live from their 1973 tour. One of my favorite songs live is Turn it on Again from Three Sides Live. The song originally appeared on Duke and is much better done live. I actually heard the live version before I heard the studio version. Phil also did a great job of singing Peter’s songs. Collins always seemed to give a little extra to each of the songs live. I also got my hands on a bootleg cassette of a live recording of The Lamb tour. Gabriel was a great live performer as well. He would often tell stories during each song that were amusing.
After getting every single Genesis album at the time, I had to feed my Genesis need. I started to collect Peter Gabriel’s solo albums. I enjoyed them very much and saw how much he made an impact with his solo career. Some of my favorite albums are Gabriel’s. Years had pasted and my interest in music grew and I followed many different bands from classic rock, to hair bands, to metal. I still enjoyed listening to Genesis and they still remained my favorite. I was waiting for their next album to come out and finally in 1991, the trio released their fourteenth album, We Can’t Dance. I couldn’t wait to get their new album and it didn’t disappoint. The album had some radio friendly tunes and some classic extended instrumental songs.
GENESIS FANDOM AND THE FUTURE OF THE BAND
In 1992, Genesis was one of the biggest bands in the world and set out for a huge world tour. In June of that year they were headed to Syracuse, which is an hour from where I lived. I didn’t have to think twice about getting tickets to that event. The concert was a great experience. It is something special seeing your favorite band play live and after all these years they still knew how to put on a good show. It was also good to hear some old songs as well. I’m very happy to say I got to see Genesis play live in my lifetime.
That year was banner year for me with Genesis. Not only did I see them live I discovered some music of theirs I never heard before. My Uncle had a 45 record of Genesis that was recorded in 1977 called Spot the Pigeon. It had three songs that were never released on any albums. I believe I made a cassette recording of that. I also soon graduated to CDs and had to get all their albums on CD format. Also, I discovered a bunch of bootleg CDs that a record store was selling. They had almost every single band and they had tons of live Genesis concerts. I think I tried to find every single live tour they did and I came very close. I also found a CD with unreleased recordings of songs from the Gabriel years. This was a whole new addiction. Through 1992 and ’93 I had a good collection of CDs and I even bought a box set bootleg that was a three-disc set of The Lamb live and some unreleased songs called From One Fan to All the Others. In the fall of ’92, I caught a Genesis tribute band at a bar, which played old Genesis songs (Gabriel and Collins era). It was a great show and it was a great time to be a Genesis fan.
Then in 1996, Phil Collins announced he was leaving the band. Many thought this was the end of Genesis, but Banks and Rutherford wanted to continue on. They hired singer Ray Wilson for lead vocal and recorded Calling All Stations in 1997. Genesis fans didn’t accept the new singer and a world tour that was schedule was canceled because of lack of interest. This is the only studio album I never bought. I did listen to most of it and didn’t care much for it. One day I’ll get the album just to have it in my collection. A year later, Banks and Rutherford declared that Genesis was over.
Throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s a few best of… and compilation CDs were released. In 2003 I picked up Genesis Archive 2: 1976-1992. This was like getting a brand new album from the band. There were tons of unreleased songs between those years that I never heard. For a band that was over 35 years old at the time and was finished, there were still some new discoveries. I never got Genesis Archive 1967-75, because most of it I had all ready from my box set From One Fan to All the Others.
During the mid-2000’s, re-releases of Genesis albums in CD box sets came out and there was talk of Genesis doing a reunion with key players Banks, Rutherford, Collins, Hackett, and Gabriel. The Lamb was going to live again, but then Gabriel backed out of it. The trio (Collins, Banks, Rutherford) decided to give it a go and went on a world tour in 2007. I felt bad for Hackett, who probably wanted to still tour with them even though Gabriel didn’t. It would have been cool if they let him join in. In my opinion, he’s one of the best guitarists ever. Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer joined the three on the live tour. I’ve always considered them a true part of the group and not just back up players. Their musical ability added to the live performances. It’s too bad they didn’t do a show close to the Tampa Bay during that tour, because I would love to see them perform live again. Soon after the tour ended, they released a live album titled, Live Over Europe, which was a great album that had a mix of old and new songs.
As soon as they reformed, Collins dislocated a vertebrae in his neck which required surgery. This injury prevented him from playing the drums or piano and even with the surgery he still was advised to never play again. So, it is very doubtful that Genesis would tour again. Then in early 2010, some good news for Genesis fans and for the band itself, when the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was a great honor for the band and I was very happy to see them finally get into the Hall of Fame.
Genesis will always be my favorite band. Their music has been a big part of my life since I was a kid and up until now. I never tire of hearing their albums and I try to listen to them as often as I can. Where over bands or albums have become boring, Genesis still stay fresh even after listening to them for the first time almost twenty-five years ago. To a magnificent group that has inspired me creatively and whose music has been there for me through the good times and the bad. Genesis will always be a big part of my life.