... A Brief
The origins of Genesis date
back to the late 1960s. It all began when two groups of school boys from
England's prestigious Charterhouse school joined forces to form one of the
most successful acts in music history.
This unlikely bunch would go on to sell in excess
of one hundred million albums world-wide, sell out football stadiums
across the globe, become one of the top grossing concert acts of the 1980s
and 1990s, and launch the massively successful solo careers of several of
That year also saw the brief return of
Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett for a one-off reunion concert in England.
The now legendary concert was not officially recorded, but the now
infamous and widely circulated audience recorded bootleg of the show is
probably one of the most sought after unsanctioned recordings ever made
from a Genesis concert.
1983's self-titled album, which went quadruple platinum
in the U.S., gave the band their first top ten American single, "That's
All." The album also spawned several other hit singles, reaffirming Genesis'
superstar status. At the end of the 1984 world tour, the band went on
hiatus, and all members pursued solo projects.
It all began in 1967 when Charterhouse students Michael
Rutherford and Anthony Phillips formed a band, known as The Anon, who
performed mostly cover tunes by popular British acts like The Rolling
Stones and The Beatles at small parties in their spare time.
It wasn't long before Phillips, a guitarist, and Rutherford, a bass
player, formed a songwriters collective with two other Charterhouse
school-mates, drummer/singer Peter Gabriel and keyboardist Tony Banks.
Banks and Gabriel had just done a one-off gig as The Garden Wall and,
while they were not a full-fledged band, the two shared Phillips and
Rutherford's passion for music. Later, drummer Chris Stewart was added,
and the initial line-up for the group was complete.
Perhaps surprisingly, the yet unnamed band did
not have aspirations of touring the world and selling millions of records.
The group's initial intention was to write music for other artists.
When Collins, Banks, and Rutherford reunited in
1986 to release their sixteenth album, Invisible Touch, most
members had prominent careers as solo artists in their own right.
Later that year, Billboard Magazine honored the band and its
members for having the most singles by one group (and as solo artists
originating from one group) on the publication's Hot 100 Chart (Steve
Hackett with GTR, Peter Gabriel, Michael Rutherford with Mike & The
Mechanics, Phil Collins, and Genesis all had singles near the top of the
chart). In addition, the Invisible Touch album went to number three on the Billboard album chart, and went on to
sell more than six million copies in the United States alone. This unprecedented achievement
made U.S. pop history, with Genesis becoming the first group (and foreign
act) to earn five top five singles from an album.
By late 1967,
Chris Stewart had left the band due to his parents' unwillingness to allow
him to drop out of Charterhouse like the rest of the band had done to
pursue their musical careers. Stewart was quickly replaced by percussionist John Silver. It was during that year that Gabriel and Banks managed to attract the attention of Jonathan King,
a young Charterhouse alumni, who had enjoyed some musical success of
his own with the 1965 pop song
"Everyone's Gone To The Moon" which peaked at #4 on the U.K.
King took the fledgling group under
his wing and, in the summer of 1967, offered the boys a publishing deal.
By 1968, King helped secure a recording contract with
Decca Records under the name From Genesis To Revelation, a moniker
assigned by the former one-hit wonder himself.
The 1986/87 world tour in support of the Invisible
Touch album was massive. The ten month tour took the band to 111
shows, 59 cities, 16 countries, and a total of more than three million
After completing the tour, the band went their separate ways to recuperate
and, once again, work on outside projects. Genesis was paid further
tribute that year when Rolling Stone magazine named the group
"Band of The Year" in their annual reader's
It would be another four years before the band
would release their next studio album, 1991's We Can't Dance. The
album was another record breaker for the group featuring five hit
singles and eventually earning multi-platinum status, selling in excess of
four million copies in the U.S. alone.
King served as producer for the group's first
album, From Genesis To Revelation, released in March 1969.
Much to DECCA Records and the band's disappointment, like the
two singles that proceeded the project's release, the self-titled debut failed
to make a commercial impact. Just months later, in the summer of 1969, Silver quit the band to pursue other endeavors.
Once again, the drummer's seat was left vacant. This time, the band filled
the spot with John Mayhew.
King, who was disappointed in the lack luster
response of the band's debut album, drifted from the group. At this point,
To Revelation had no contract with King as their producer or with Decca
Records, so they continued playing small gigs and writing
material for a potential follow-up album.
Like their previous tour, the 1992 concert tour generated the
highest average gross per venue of any act that year. At this point in the
band's career, Genesis was a musical juggernaut and arguably had become
one of the most successful acts in existence, if not music history.
the conclusion of the tour, the band released their fourth live album, The
Way We Walk. The collection features two volumes sold individually.
The first part, The Shorts, which went gold in the U.S. selling more
than 500,000 copies, focused on the group's more pop-orientated songs.
Believe it or not, The Shorts also marked the first time the band
ever put their faces on the front of one of their albums. The second
volume, The Longs,
sold only 260,351 copies in the U.S., and included some of the band's more epic
material (and a drum duet between Phil Collins and Chester Thompson).
While on tour, the band found
that they needed to get away from some of the softer acoustic qualities of
their earlier material to capture their audiences. As Phillips recalled in
a 2001 World of Genesis.com interview,
"There wasn’t the amplification there is now for acoustic
instruments, therefore, things had to be more electric. You couldn’t
dominate an audience in a way that you would need to." As a result,
the group's sound became louder and more aggressive. This musical
adaptation would start lead the band to an edgier style of performing and
approximately a year of local touring, the group signed with Tony
Stratton-Smith and his label, Charisma Records, in April 1970. By that time, the group
had shortened their name to simply Genesis.
In 1993, Genesis reunited to perform at a charity
concert co-organized by Michael Rutherford in England. For this charity
event, Genesis performed along side of the equally legendary rock group, Pink Floyd. Unbeknownst to the band or the
audience, it would be the last time Phil Collins would be performing live
with Genesis in front of a public audience.
Shortly after the charity concert in 1993, Phil Collins informed Tony Banks and
Michael Rutherford that his personal life, solo career, and other outside
projects had become to difficult to manage around the band's schedule and
tendered his resignation as drummer and front-man. This news would remain
a well-guarded secret only shared with the closest members of the Genesis
camp. Tony Banks informed Phil Collins that the band would carry on
without him. Collins departure was announced to the public on March 29,
Genesis circa 1967
(Clockwise from Left):
Phillips, Banks, Gabriel, Rutherford, and Stewart
When he heard of Phil's departure, Chester
Thompson contacted Michael Rutherford about permanently taking over the
drummer's chair. However, the band opted not to
add any additional permanent members of the group, splitting drumming chores between two session players, Nick D'Virgilo and Nir
Rumors began to spread wildly about Phil Collins
and who would replace him. Fans and magazine writers speculated everyone
from Paul Carrack to Fish (formerly from the
progressive Genesis influenced band, Marillion) to the return of Peter
Gabriel... Obviously, none of which were true.
On June 6, 1997, Banks and Rutherford officially announced that Collins would be
replaced by ex-Stiltskin vocalist Ray Wilson. Wilson had already
earned modest success in his own right with the Stiltskin single
"Inside" which had climbed the charts across Europe.
Genesis circa 1997 (left
Rutherford, Wilson, and Banks
In the summer of 1970, shortly after the
recording Genesis' second album, Trespass, John Mayhew and Anthony
Phillips quit the band. Once again, the band sought to fill their
ever-vacant drummer's chair and add a new guitarist. A flurry of auditions
uncovered child actor and drummer Phil Collins, who joined the group in
August 1970. By the autumn of 1970, the Trespass album was released
and, by the year's end, Genesis met their new guitarist, Steve Hackett.
This newly revamped line-up would remain intact for five years.
During this period, Genesis released four studio albums (Nursery Cryme,
Foxtrot, Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb Lies
Down On Broadway), one live album, and toured almost
In September 1997, Genesis released what would be their final studio
album, Calling All Stations. Rutherford touted that the new album
would be "darker" than that of more recent projects, leaving
fans to believe that the project would be reminiscent of Genesis' sound in
As it turned out, the release was not an extremely dark album,
but slightly less commercial than what fans had come to expect in recent
years. Calling All Stations met with a cold response,
selling only 109,583 copies in the United States. The weak U.S. album
sales later resulted in the scaling back
and eventual canceling of the band's
North American tour.
It was also during this period that the band began experimenting in art
rock. The group gained a major cult following in Europe and parts of North
America with their powerful progressive music and elaborate stage shows.
Lead singer Peter Gabriel's stage presence and flair of ornate costumes,
along with the band's dedication to musical perfection in the live
setting, quickly gained Genesis some much needed attention and acclaim,
but the band continued to fail, commercially speaking. Despite this,
the band's momentum continued to rise.
In November 1974, Genesis released what would be their final album with
this line-up, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. The conceptual double
album remains one of the group's most critically heralded projects to
date. The Lamb eventually earned gold certification in the U.S. for
sales in excess of 500,000 copies and peaked at #41 on the U.S. albums
Genesis chose to carry on with a European tour
using backing guitarist and bass player Anthony Drennon along with Calling
All Stations session drummer Nir Z to support the new line-up in
late 1997 and early 1998, but the response from fans was significantly
less than that of their previous several tours. Shortly after the
conclusion of the tour, Banks and Rutherford notified Wilson that the
decision had been made not to record another studio album. Again, this
decision would remain secret for some time.
On May 11, 1998, former Genesis members Steve Hackett,
Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, and John Silver reunited
with Tony Banks and Michael Rutherford for a press conference at Heathrow
Airport in England to promote the Genesis' first box set, Archive 1967-1975.
The box set was released in June of that year, and included rare and
previously unreleased recordings. The collection sold a mere 35,237 copies
in the United States.
Genesis in 1974 (from
Collins, Rutherford, Banks, Gabriel, and Hackett
Light Dies Down On Broadway...
In May 1975, at the end of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour, the
band received their most devastating loss yet. Vocalist Peter Gabriel had
decided the leave the band for personal reasons.
Genesis Reunited in 1998
(Clockwise From Left):
Hackett, Banks, Gabriel, Phillips, Silver, Collins,
the box set, Banks and Rutherford enlisted former members Phil Collins,
Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett to re-record a new version of the song
"Carpet Crawlers" from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.
While the track did not make the first Archive box set, it did
surface in October 1999 on the band's first sanctioned compilation, Turn
It On Again: The Hits. Turn It On Again reached the top five on
the UK album chart but failed to crack the U.S. top 40 chart. The
collection did, however, sell more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. earning yet another
gold album for Genesis.
Despite rumors to the
contrary, Genesis chose to carry on. The band returned without a lead
singer to the studio to begin work on a new album. After auditioning a number of
potential singers, Genesis bandmate Phil Collins decided to take the job
while maintaining his role as drummer.
Collins had sung lead on a few
tracks previously and supported Gabriel on backing vocals since joining
the group, so he seemed like an obvious choice to some. Others thought
Collins would lack the ability to successfully carry off signature Gabriel
sung tunes like "The Musical Box" which were staples of Genesis
live shows at the time.
Your Own Special
In 2000, Genesis released Archive #2 1976-1992. Like the first Archive
collection, this box set included rare and unreleased material. Also
like the first Archive box set, its reception was brisk with only
21,031 copies sold in the United States.
On September 21st of that year, Genesis members
Collins, Banks and Rutherford reunited with Daryl Stuermer at the Dorchester
in London, England for a private acoustic performance in honor of their
long-time manager, Tony Smith, who was receiving the prestigious Peter
Grant Award for his accomplishments in the music industry (Peter Gabriel
was also in attendance, but did not perform).
At this point, Genesis was still not without
conflict. As democratic as Genesis was in selecting each other's songs for
album inclusion, Steve Hackett started to feel that some of his
compositions were being unfairly overlooked. Hackett had used the gap of
time the band needed to locate a new lead singer to record his first solo
album, Voyage of The Acolyte. But the artistic freedom of one solo
album did not permanently relieve his dissatisfaction with Genesis. In
fact, the creative control Hackett experienced during the making of that
solo album only intensified his desire as a songwriter and musician.
Genesis' next album, 1976's A Trick of The Tail, restored
their underground following's faith in the group, but started to take the band in another direction musically.
While the art rock style of Gabriel-era Genesis disappeared, Collins
proved to be a suitable replacement as lead singer and a consummate showman. On
the 1976 Genesis tour, the need for Collins to get in-front of the
audience as lead vocalist, forced the band to add a second drummer.
Genesis enlisted progressive-rock drummer Bill Bruford, best known for his
work with bands like Yes and King Crimson.
In September 2005, Genesis released their posthumous 3-CD anthology, The
Platinum Collection, in North America. This new multi-disc 40-song
collection spanned the band's studio efforts from 1970's Trespass
through 1997's Calling All Stations. The release met with a weak
response in America selling only 65,328 copies, primarily due to the fact that the European
version was released almost a full year earlier in November 2004, and many
copies had been imported for U.S. sales.
There Must Be Some Other Way...
In late November 2005, former Genesis guitarist
Steve Hackett confirmed that the band was to have a private meeting to
discuss the possibility of a Genesis
reunion with the early 1970s line-up of Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Peter
Gabriel, Phil Collins and Hackett. The comments quickly circulated through out the media with everyone from Rolling
Stone Magazine to CNN reporting the news. The news was quickly
squashed by Peter Gabriel in December of that year, and
While Bruford provided adequate support while Collins took center stage,
he was not satisfied simply supporting the band on the road and left at the conclusion
of the tour. For the next album, 1977's Wind and Wuthering, Genesis
once again found themselves seeking a touring drummer. This time, the band
hired Chester Thompson, best known for his work with Frank Zappa and The
Mothers and the jazz super group Weather Report.
After completing the 1977 world tour, Genesis was mixing their second live
album, Seconds Out, when Steve Hackett announced his departure from
the band. Rather than replace Hackett, bassist Michael Rutherford decided to
take on the task of guitars and bass, making Genesis a trio. Unbeknownst to
the band at the time, this new line-up would remain intact for more than 15
three remaining members, Collins, Banks, and Rutherford, returned to the
studio to record their eleventh (and aptly named) album, 1978's ...And
Then There Were Three... Although beyond their comprehension at the
time, this album served as the catalyst for Genesis' explosion into the
Genesis' management released an
statement that there were no plans for a Genesis reunion in 2006 -
however, there was no denial that talks had or were still taking
place. Many fans have speculated that 2007, the band's 40th anniversary,
seemed like an obvious time for a potential reunion.
Turn It On Again...
On November 7, 2006 in London and on March 7, 2007 in New York City, Genesis
conferences announce an official
2007 reunion tour with members Tony
Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford accompanied by long-time touring
members Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer, bringing back the vastly popular
late '70s to early '90s line up of Genesis. The tour included 48 shows (23 European
shows and 25 North American shows), climaxed with a free concert at the
Circus Maximus in Rome, Italy, in front of an estimated crowd of 500,000
people. The Genesis tour earned $129 million worldwide, making it the
second highest grossing tour of 2007.
The album effectively bridged the transition from progressive
rock to radio-orientated pop, earning the band's first RIAA-certified gold
record for 500,000 plus copies sold in the States and yielded their first
big U.S. hit, "Follow You Follow Me," which reached #23 on the
singles chart. Years later, ...And Then There Were Three...
would go on to earn platinum certification for more than one million
copies sold and peak at #14 on the albums chart in the United States.
the departure of Steve Hackett, another guitarist was needed for touring
purposes. For this reason, the band chose Daryl Stuermer who was best known for his
work with jazz greats like George Duke and Jean-Luc Ponty.
In conjunction with the tour, in April 2007, the band released a 10 CD +
DVD box set called 1976-1982, featuring newly remixed and
remastered stereo and surround sound versions of the studio albums from
that era along with rare video, period music videos, and new interviews
with the band on each album. In September 2007, Genesis released Turn
It On Again: The Hits - Tour Edition, an expanded double disc
'limited edition' version of the album, which surfaced at the start of the
North American tour (it was released in Europe in June at the
start of the European leg of the tour).
Genesis in 1978 (from
Thompson, Rutherford, Collins, Stuermer, and Banks
The second box, 1983-1998, included comparable material from the
studio albums from this period. The 10-disc CD + DVD set and was released
in November 2007. That month also saw the release of Genesis' sixth live album, Live
Over Europe. The double live disc set featured recordings from various nights of the
European leg of the tour. Live Over Europe peaked at #44 in Europe,
but did not fare as well in the North American charts. This release was accompanied by When In
Rome, a video release recorded at the Circus Maximus concert in Italy.
The video was
Genesis - November 4, 2006 at the European Press
Conference For the 2007 Tour
As Genesis began to evolve musically, some fans felt that the group's
departure from the progressive sound of the early to mid 1970s was a form
of selling out, commercially speaking. Despite this, the band continued to
follow their artistic vision and eventually gained public acclaim
(although, critical acclaim typically alluded the band throughout most of
Following the 1978 world tour, the band took time off to work on a variety
of outside projects and to deal with personal matters. By the time Genesis
regrouped to release Duke in April 1980, the trio found that they
had produced their most successful album to date. Duke featured two
popular hit singles "Misunderstanding" and "Turn It On
Again." It was during this period that Genesis swept Melody Maker Magazine's
poll in Europe, ranking #1 in a total of six categories.
first U.S. top ten and RIAA-certified platinum selling album, Abacab,
was released in September 1981 and
peaked at #9 on the U.S. albums chart. By this point, each album seemed to follow the
pattern of more commercial success than its predecessors. Abacab
featured three U.S. hit singles, "No Reply At All", "Man On
The Corner" and "Abacab."
Following Abacab, which had by this point sold more than two
million copies in the U.S. (earning double-platinum status), the band released their third live album,
1982's Three Sides Live, which peaked at #10 on
tour circa 1981/82 (from left): the U.S. albums
Rutherford, Collins, Stuermer, Thompson,
In North America, Three Sides Live
was a double LP set with three sides of material recorded live in concert
and one side of non-LP studio recordings, including the U.S. hit
"Paperlate." The version currently available is identical to the
European issue, which is completely live (The majority of the non-LP
studio recording from the original U.S. version of Three Sides Live
would later resurface in 2000 on the second Archive box set). Three
Sides Live went on to sell
more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. earning yet another RIAA gold album
certification for Genesis.
recorded in high definition and was released in 2008 on DVD (despite being
filmed in high definition, the video has yet to receive a high definition
November 2008 saw the release of the 13-disc CD + DVD
set, 1970-1975, spanning "the Peter Gabriel era" of Genesis. In
2010, for his work on the project, long-time Genesis Engineer/Producer
Nick Davis received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Surround Sound. The
string of archive releases continued in September 2009 with the 11-disc CD
+ DVD set, Live 1973-2007, and November 2009's 5-DVD set, The
Movie Box, featuring the band's commercially released concert videos
along with an updated version of VH-1's Behind The Music documentary on
the band going up through the 2007 Genesis world tour.
In March 2010, Genesis was inducted into the Rock
N' Roll Hall of Fame at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.
Trey Anastasio, the lead singer from the
band Phish, inducted the band saying: "Every musical rule and
boundary was questioned and broken. It's impossible to overstate what
impact this band and musical philosophy had on me as a young musician. I'm
forever in their debt." On hand that night were members Tony Banks, Phil
Collins, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, and long-time touring members
Daryl Stuermer and Chester Thompson. Mysteriously absent that night was
Peter Gabriel who allegedly missed the event due to preparation for the
European leg of his 2010 tour. While Genesis did not perform that night,
it was the last time the group appeared on stage together as Genesis. In
September 2012, Genesis was honored again with the Lifetime Achievement
Award at the first Progressive Music Awards in England. Members Tony Banks
and Mike Rutherford were on hand to accept the honor.
To date, Genesis has sold more than 150 million albums
worldwide. Phil Collins retired from music in 2010, making the odds of any
type of a reunion even more unlikely in the future. While Genesis remains
inactive as a band, they continue to keep their legacy alive through the
release of reissued and archive type product, and through the creation of
new exclusive official Genesis merchandise.
Special thanks to Atlantic Records, Hit & Run, Billboard, "Metal Bob", the
Recording Industry Association of America, the official Genesis site, Bill MacCormick, Phillip Kamin, and
anyone else who in some way contributed to this brief biography.
Note: RIAA Gold and Platinum Certifications can be verified by clicking here.
Other sales figured taken from U.S. Sound Scan figures collected on
September 17, 2003 and January 17, 2006.