|To Genesis fans, Jonathan King
is best known as the man who "discovered" the band, gave them
their original elongated name, and produced their debut album, the then
self-titled, From Genesis To Revelation.
Whether revered by some fans for being a visionary producer and mentor or
jeered by others for being seen as someone who has capitalized on his
brief stint with the band, Genesis fans are passionate about King's role
in the group's incredible history.
On April 29, 2005, in his first formal interview since being released from
prison in March, World of Genesis.com's own Dave Negrin talked with King
about his tenure with Genesis, some of his other past projects, and what
lies ahead for the legendary producer.
I wasn’t that impressed until “Follow You Follow Me,” which was fabulous
and brought me back into the fan base.
WOG: I had heard that you commented in a prior interview that you
had, in some way, influenced The Beatles’ Sgt.
Pepper album. Can you explain?
That was simply because I’d bought an old drummer boy type jacket in
with shiny buttons and red
tunic and wore it for a laugh in one of the clubs and John Lennon was
there, and loved it… I still own it! [John] asked where I’d bought it
and then, months later… BINGO! The Sgt.
Pepper look was born!
Of Genesis: What are your earliest recollections of the boys who would
Jonathan King: I remember the boy who gave me the tape, although I
can’t remember his name or anything about him. He told me
it was the school group, and they didn’t have a name. I listened [to the
tape] in the car going home and really liked the sound of the lead singer
When I spoke to them, and met them, my first impression was of Peter’s
extreme shyness. And, I couldn’t remember them from my time there. Then
again, we tended not to mix with or notice boys younger or older than our
It’s now well documented that the guys in Genesis have had more than
their share of artistic disagreements in the studio over the years. Were
those disagreements apparent even during the recording of the first
JK: Oh yes. Tony Banks always wanted to do long solos which I used
to trim or cut! Anthony Phillips was more volatile and outspoken. Peter
remained very quiet and shy, but when he spoke it made sense.
WOG: At that point, was any one member, or members, of the band the
apparent "leader" of the group or was the band more democratic?
JK: It always seemed pretty democratic. Though Peter was quiet, he
was always listened to. We worked as a team… I was one of the band. It
was intentional that
I used Tom Allom, now a top producer (known for his work with Judas
Priest), who was then a young engineer but also an old Carthusian… I
wanted the Charterhouse connection to continue. We all understood each
other having lived through a similar five years.
After leaving Genesis behind, what other projects did you work on? Did you
ever resume your own solo career?
JK: I ran DECCA. My experience with From
Genesis To Revelation had shown me they REALLY needed help and I made
lots of other records… Indeed, I had many more solo hits, like “Una
Paloma Blanca;” started my own label, UK Records, with acts
like 10cc and Rocky Horror Show; I did TV work such as Entertainment USA;
and I invented the name The Brits
and presented the show in 1987 - At which, The Best Male Singer Award was
won by… Peter Gabriel!
Did you ever attempt to rekindle your working relationship with Genesis
again after they signed with Charisma in
WOG: It’s been said by Peter Gabriel,
among others, that they attempted to write the "Silent Sun" in
the vein of the Bee Gees to keep your interest. Were there any creative
aspects of the album that they would not compromise on with you as their
JK: Actually, it was more Crosby, Stills and Nash that
influenced their acoustic sound, but my real motive was to encourage them
not to depend on electric equipment since they could not afford really
good stuff, and the volume concealed the mistakes. By making them go
acoustic, I made sure they heard their errors and corrected them.
If you could go back in time and redo that first album with the
band, what would you do differently?
With the release of the first Genesis Archive
box set, fans finally heard the From
Genesis To Revelation album without the addition of the string
arrangements. In retrospect, do you still prefer the album version with
the strings? Are any songs that you are especially proud to have been
involved with on that album or any songs that you feel were below par?
Nothing; it’s exactly as I wanted it. I would just have liked DECCA to
have promoted and exposed it properly. I had to do that myself, and I
wasn’t very good at it then - I became far better later!
WOG: Now that you are released, are you working on any new projects
at the present time, or do you have anything in the works for the near
JK: Yes, loads of new and future projects, but sadly must keep them
secret at present.
JK: I like it with all the strings and links between the tracks. It
was at a time when "concept" albums had not really been invented,
so it was one of the first. I think the added sweetness, and
professionalism, makes it truly unusual and covers up any amateurism.
still believe it was, and remains, a hugely underappreciated album; one of
the ground breaking ones of the decade. I just relistened to it… One of
the prison officers had an uncle who sent it in to be signed and enclosed
a note saying it was his favorite album of all time! I think it sounds
superb… really different from anything else around, bursting with youth,
energy and latent creativity.
WOG: Were you at all involved with the Archive
box set chronicling the band’s early years? If so, to what extent were
JK: No not at all. In fact, they should not have included those
early non-string tracks. I think there’s a better and more accurate
collection to be compiled.
WOG: Many incarnations of the first album have surfaced over the
years under various names, track listings and album covers. Do you own the
rights to that album and, if so, do you ever have any reservations
the licensing the album again and again for die-hard fans to repurchase?
Yes, my company does own the rights, and we only license it when there’s
a demand for it. Sadly, since I took no over-ride royalty for discovering
or naming or nurturing them, we make nothing from the subsequent Genesis
years or product. That’s fine by me, though it flies against industry
wisdom and morality.
My position was, and remains… If I’d broken them, I’d have deserved on-going
payment, but since I didn’t manage to, the future depended on their own
endeavors. But we do try to make as much from the few tracks we
own as we can.
My greatest reward is knowing for certain, as I do with many other acts and
artistes, that without Jonathan King being alive and involved, Genesis would
not exist, and the guys would have had careers as intended - as accountants
and lawyers! I well remember the meeting with their parents, when I
persuaded them that the band had a future in this erratic world of
What, if anything, about
the musical direction of the guys who played on that first album has
surprised you over the past 35 years or so?
I’m delighted they have been successful… always knew Peter would do
Mike’s career has been a pleasant surprise. Likewise, the emergence of
Phil Collins… Who, obviously, I only met after their success. They were
always decent kids and seem to have grown into decent elderly gentlemen!
WOG: According to an e-mail I received from a fellow fan, Tony
Banks has stated he was frustrated because you didn't let him use organ on
that first record. If that is true, why were you against it?
JK: Excuse me… I’ve never stopped anyone from using their
organ! No, the answer
was already discussed… I restricted self indulgence even though, at the
time, they wrongly felt it was artistic and creative. These days, more
experienced and skilled, I’d totally allow him the full rein.
Did you write the Blue Swede hit single “Hooked On A Feeling?” If not,
what was your involvement with the song?
JK: I didn’t write “Hooked,” but it was totally my
arrangement, copied note for note… with permission, since by then my
version had peaked.
I felt theirs added nothing to my original. I’d have
liked to have made some money out of my "ooga chagga" concept, but
that’s life and copyright laws. You can’t copyright an arrangement!
WOG: With the past behind you, are you at all concerned that your
recent legal situation will impede your ability
to work within the industry as a producer or recording artist?
When was the last time you talked to any of the guys in Genesis, and what,
if anything, is your relationship with them at this point? Is there any ill will over
the fact that they do not own that first record?
JK: I’ve spoken every now and then over the years, and I don’t
think either party has any reservations… They remain grateful to me for
my early input as exemplified by Peter’s opening remarks at his recent
Man of the Year Award dinner. I think of them with totally positive and
WOG: Has Genesis ever attempted to buy it back?
JK: No, they have never asked to buy From
Genesis To Revelation back.
KING ON FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION:
I still believe it was, and remains, a hugely underappreciated album; one of
the ground breaking ones of the decade.
In recent years, newer versions of the From
Genesis To Revelation CD have included bonus tracks that were not
on the LP reissues from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Were those extra tracks, like "The Image Blown Out" and
"Patricia," lost and then rediscovered years later? Are there
any more tracks in your possession that have not been officially released
from that period of time?
JK: I’m not at all sure about
these. My company that signed them was the publishing company. They may
have been early demos, but I’ll have to check these out.
Genesis is currently remixing their catalog in 5.1 surround sound using
the original multi-track master tapes. It has been said that they do not
have the multi-track tapes for the first album. Do you have them? If so,
would you ever loan the original multi-track masters to the band so that a
surround sound reissue could be licensed and see the light of day?
JK: No, my profile has leaped over recent years, so has my life
experience, and I look forward to the next 30 years being even more
rewarding and satisfying than the previous 60!
WOG: If you were to write an autobiography, what would you call it?
JK: I have and keep changing the title. It was going to be King and I,
but someone else got there with that!
TITLES FEATURING JONATHAN KING
My greatest reward is knowing for certain, as I
do with many other acts and artistes, that without Jonathan King being alive and involved, Genesis would not exist, and the guys would have had careers as intended - as accountants and lawyers!
GENESIS - FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION
Genesis' debut album! This is the 2005 2-CD, 26-track European pressing
with a 13-track version of the album with a bonus 13-track second disc of
demos and b-sides. Includes "One Eyed Hound", "The Silent Sun", "That's Me",
"The Image Blown Out" and much more!
I fear they no longer exist. If they did, I’d be happy for that.
WOG: At what point did you start to lose interest in the band, and
what were your thoughts at the time?
JK: I’ve always liked finding, starting, developing, encouraging
and breaking new talent. After that I find it a bore. People start whining
trivial problems, and it starts to become a machine… "We have a
problem with the lighting rig in
That’s why, when they decided they wanted to continue as a professional
outfit, I handed them onto someone I could trust, Tony Stratton Smith…
though I had to persuade him to take them on!
Anthony Phillips mentioned that the longer songs the band was starting to
write at the time kind of bewildered you a bit, because you were trying to
develop them as more of a pop singles band. Is that a fair assessment?
JK: Yes, they did have a tendency for self indulgence, and their
ambitions were inferior to their very young talent at the time. There’s
nothing worse than a
16 year old guitarist who thinks he’s [Jimi] Hendrix. So, I trimmed and
cut and tried to keep the basic essentials whilst losing the dross.
WOG: What were some of the songs that they had been working on
before you left? Had they written anything to your knowledge that later
surfaced on albums like Trespass
or Nursery Cryme?
JK: No, I don’t think so… I’m afraid I really lost interest
except for their personal well being and went off to other projects.
WOG: What did you think when you first heard Genesis next few
albums, like Trespass, Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot?
FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION (LIMITED EDITION)
Japanese only 21-track mini LP style CD! Out of print and getting hard to
find! Includes "One Eyed Hound", "The Silent Sun", "That's Me",
"Patricia" and much more!
KING - HEDGEHOPPERS ANONYMOUS
Out of print
24-track anthology with 10 tracks by King's former group plus his entire Or
Then Again solo album with two bonus tracks! Hard to find!
BLUE SWEDE - GOLDEN CLASSICS
12-track anthology including King's "Ooga Chagga" influenced
version of "Hooked On A Feeling."
|\Special thanks to Jonathan King and Giovanni di Stefano for
granting this interview. This interview © 2005-2007 David Negrin and may
not be used in whole or in part without permission. All rights reserved. For
more on Jonathan King, please visit
his official site.
to return to the Interview Index.