GENESIS - The evolution of a cult band

16. March 2020


GENESIS - Die Evolution einer Kultband

Shortly after each other Steve Hackett (12.2.), Peter Gabriel (13.2.) and Tony Banks (27.3.) celebrate their 70th birthday in these days, in October follows Mike Rutherford (2.10.). Together with Phil Collins, just turned 69, they form the classic 70s line-up of Genesis. While Hackett and Collins only joined the group later, the other three met at an elite boarding school, where music offered them a free space in the midst of conservative structures. eclipsed traces the band's early years, from their first musical steps to the release of "Trespass", their first prog album. Peter Gabriel in the "historical interview" of 1971, former road manager Richard Macphail and Steve Hackett about his birthday and his work with Genesis.

There is hardly a place that can be imagined less well as a breeding ground for a big rock band: The Charterhouse School, a private school in Godalming in the county of Surrey, is a traditional, elitist educational establishment with boarding school, which is characterised by conservative values and where only boys were admitted until the 1970s. Those who attend the school usually come from wealthy parents. The huge school building and its teachers exude a repressive atmosphere in 1963/1964, when Gabriel, Banks, Rutherford and Anthony Phillips meet here. Radios are forbidden in many houses, more important than music is sport and the preparation for the A-Levels. Gabriel and Banks, like Phillips, are accommodated in the Girdlestoneites house. Mike Rutherford from the Lockites house, whom his tutor quickly gets on his nerves because he is considered a "revolutionary", makes friends with Phillips early on - the only one at the school with an electric guitar and an amplifier. With their band, which they call Anon, they play songs by the Rolling Stones. The part of the singer is played by Richard Macphail, who later is to become road manager of Genesis (see interview on page xx). At the same time Banks and Gabriel are also making music together. The initial "competition" between the friends as to who gets to play the piano is decided by Banks - a good coincidence, because both quickly realize that Tony is the more talented pianist and Peter has the better voice.

Unlike the rougher Anon, Banks and Gabriel try their hand at their own songs and experiment a lot. In no way do they want to sound like the majority of the bands of that time. Gabriel's influences are Otis Redding and Nina Simone, Banks loves the Beach Boys. In the strict everyday life at school the two bands are no rivals but fellow sufferers. When Phillips and Rutherford want to record a demo tape with Anon, they ask Banks if he plays organ for them. Banks agrees and asks for Gabriel to come along to record their piece "She Is Beautiful". During the recordings Gabriel spontaneously takes over all vocal parts. Rutherford will later say: "Fortunately Ant realized that Peter was the better singer of both. Had that not happened, we might have missed the defining moment. " That moment that should lead to the foundation of Genesis! But it has not yet happened. First there is the band Anon, which also includes bassist Rivers Job and drummer Rob Tyrrell, and the formation of Banks, Gabriel and drummer Chris Stewart, which is called The Garden Wall for a school concert. When Jonathan King, producer at Decca Records, comes to a school meeting at Charterhouse School, they send him their demo tape. "Jonathan was the only person from the music business we knew," Phillips remembers in the band biography "Chapter & Verse". After weeks of waiting, King finally invites the boys to London. "I was absolutely enchanted by Peter's voice," he says years later. He especially likes "She Is Beautiful", which of course flatters Banks and Gabriel.

King takes the newly formed band - Gabriel, Banks, Phillips, Rutherford and Stewart - under his wing, gives them some money for more demos and gets them their first record deal. "Recording a record seemed a spectacular and exciting thing to do," Gabriel recalls in a biography written by Daryl Easlea. It was King who gave the band the name Genesis after his first suggestion "Gabriel's Angels" didn't appeal to her. "We thought we'd better go for it, after all, it was him who paid for the studio," says Gabriel. But the new demo recordings don't exactly trigger euphoric reactions at King. Nevertheless, he does not lose his patience and advises the musicians to focus on short pieces. So Banks and Gabriel sing "The Silent Sun" at the top of their voices, with Gabriel quite unabashedly imitating Robin Gibb. The producer likes it, and Genesis are allowed to record their first two songs at Regent Sound Studios. "The Silent Sun" becomes the first single (B-side: "That's Me"), a few months later the second follows with "A Winter's Tale" (B-side: "One-Eyed Hound"). Both are not successful.

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