Genesis Biography

This leading UK rock band first came together at the public school Charterhouse. Peter Gabriel (13 February 1950, Cobham, Surrey, England; vocals), Tony Banks (b. 27 March 1951, East Heathly, Sussex, England; keyboards) and Chris Stewart (drums) were in an ensemble named the Garden Wall, and joined forces with Anthony Philips (guitar/vocals) and Mike Rutherford (b. 2 October 1950, Guildford, Surrey, England; bass/guitar/vocals), who were in a rival group, the Anon. In January 1967, the student musicians sent a demonstration tape to another Charterhouse alumnus, Jonathan King, then at Decca Records. King financed further recordings and christened the band Genesis. They recorded one single, ‘The Silent Sun’ in 1968, but it was not until the following year that their debut album From Genesis To Revelation was issued. Its lack of success left them without a label until the enterprising Tony Stratton-Smith signed them to his recently formed Charisma Records in 1970. The band had already lost three drummers from their line-up before finding the perfect candidate that August. Phil Collins (b. Philip David Charles Collins, 30 January 1951, Chiswick, London, England) had already worked with a professional group, Flaming Youth, and his involvement would later prove crucial in helping Genesis achieve international success.

The already recorded Trespass was issued in October 1970, but sold poorly. Further line-up changes ensued with the arrival of new guitarist Steve Hackett (b. Stephen Richard Hackett, 12 February 1950, Pimlico, London, England). The band was known for their highly theatrical stage act and costumes, but this did not help record sales. When the 1971 album Nursery Cryme also failed commercially, the band was again in danger of being dropped from their label. Success on the continent brought renewed faith, which was vindicated with the release of Foxtrot. The album reached the UK Top 20 and included the epic live favourite ‘Supper’s Ready’. Over the next two-and-a-half years, Genesis increased their profile with the bestselling albums Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

Having reached a new peak, however, their prospects were completely undermined by the shock departure of singer Gabriel in May 1975. Many commentators understandably wrote Genesis off at this point, particularly when it was announced that the new singer was to be their drummer Collins. The streamlined quartet proved remarkably resilient, however, and the succeeding albums A Trick Of The Tail and Wind And Wuthering were well received. In the summer of 1977, Hackett left to pursue a solo career, after which Genesis carried on as a trio, backed by various short-term employees. Amazingly, the band appeared to grow in popularity with the successive departure of each key member. During 1978, they received their first gold disc for the appropriately titled And Then There Were Three and two years later enjoyed a chart-topping album with Duke. With various solo excursions underway, Genesis still managed to sustain its identity as a working group and reached new levels of popularity with hits in the USA. By late 1981, they were in the US Top 10 with Abacab and could rightly claim to be one of the most popular rock acts in the world. Helped by Collins’ high profile as a soloist, they enjoyed their biggest UK singles hit with ‘Mama’ and followed with ‘Thats All’ and ‘Illegal Alien’. In America, they scored a number 1 single in 1986 with ‘Invisible Touch’, while the following four singles all made the US Top 5. Both Genesis and Invisible Touch topped the UK charts, while the latter also reached number 1 in the USA.

By the mid-80s, the group format was not sufficient to contain all their various projects and Collins pursued a parallel solo career, while Rutherford formed the hit act Mike And The Mechanics. In 1991, the trio reconvened to record and issue We Can’t Dance. Although this was their first album in over five years, it immediately topped the charts throughout the world confirming their status as one of the world’s leading dinosaur bands. Collins decided that his solo career and relocation to Switzerland had put too much pressure on trying to maintain his role in the band and he officially resigned. Although either of Mike’s Mechanics, Paul Carrack or Paul Young would have fitted the bill perfectly, his replacement was Ray Wilson, the former lead singer of Stiltskin. He was heard on Calling All Stations released in August 1997, which proved to be the final Genesis recording as Rutherford and Banks also elected to call it a day. Collins, Rutherford and Banks announced a reunion tour in November 2006.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.