|Origin||Godalming, Surrey, England|
|Years active||1967–1998, 2006–present
(Reunions: 1999, 2000)
|Labels||Virgin, Charisma, Decca, EMI, Virgin EMI/UMG, London, Atlantic, Atco, Vertigo|
|Associated acts||Garden Wall, The Anon|
|Past members||Peter Gabriel
Genesis are an English rock band formed in Godalming, Surrey in 1967. The band has had numerous line-ups throughout its history, of which eleven musicians became full time members. Its most recent formation comprised two founding members–keyboardist Tony Banks and bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford–and drummer/singer Phil Collins, who joined in 1970. Genesis are one of the best selling music artists of all time with approximately 130 million records sold worldwide. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.
Formed by five pupils at Charterhouse School, Genesis were initially regarded as a "pop experiment" as evident by their debut album, From Genesis to Revelation (1969). They evolved into a progressive rock band with Trespass (1970) and Nursery Cryme (1971), which showcased longer tracks, fantasy inspired lyrics, and complex song structures and instrumentation. Their success continued with Foxtrot (1972), which features the 23-minute track "Supper's Ready", and Selling England by the Pound (1973). Genesis concerts during this time became theatrical experiences with stage design, pyrotechnics, story telling, and singer Peter Gabriel wearing make-up and costumes. In 1975, after touring in support of their double concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974), Gabriel left the band. Collins would handle drums and lead vocals on their subsequent studio albums, of which three more were released in the 1970s: A Trick of the Tail (1976), Wind & Wuthering (1976), and ...And Then There Were Three... (1978). The single "Follow You Follow Me" from the latter was a major international success and represented a change in their musical direction, becoming more pop-oriented and commercially accessible.
In 1980, Genesis scored their first UK number one album with Duke (1980). Their commercial success grew with further UK number one albums Abacab (1981) and Genesis (1983), which coincided with Collins's increasing popularity as a solo artist. The band peaked with Invisible Touch (1986), their best-selling album, from which all five singles released entered the top five on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, with "Invisible Touch" reaching the number one spot. In 1991, after a five-year break, Genesis continued their mainstream success with We Can't Dance (1991) which contained the worldwide hit single "I Can't Dance". In 1996, Collins left the band, which led to Ray Wilson taking his place on vocals. Wilson, Banks, and Rutherford released Calling All Stations (1997) which sold well in Europe but peaked at number 53 in the US, their lowest charting album since 1974. Following a European tour in 1998, the band went on hiatus.
In 2006, Banks, Rutherford, and Collins reunited for their 2007 Turn It On Again Tour which included a free concert in Rome that was attended by 500,000 people. The future of the band remains uncertain; Collins stated that he was retiring from the music industry in 2011 but has since indicated he is considering a return, whilst Banks indicated that Genesis had come to an end during an interview in 2012. In 2014, Gabriel, Banks, Rutherford, Collins, and Hackett reunited for a BBC documentary, Genesis: Together and Apart.
The founding members of Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips all met at Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey. Gabriel and Banks had arrived at the school in September 1963, Rutherford in September 1964 and Phillips in April 1965. All four found the environment of Charterhouse restrictive, as it favoured activities such as team sports which they disliked. Banks had been taking piano lessons since he started prep school aged 7, while Rutherford had been playing guitar since he was 7 and Phillips had already played in a band, the Spiders, before arriving at the school. The group evolved from earlier school bands the Anon and the Garden Wall, and joined forces in Easter 1967, in order to record a demo tape. The first line-up consisted of Gabriel on vocals, Phillips on guitar, Banks on keyboards, Rutherford on bass and rhythm guitar and Chris Stewart (drums).
Having recorded a demo containing "Don't Want You Back", "Try A Little Sadness", "She's Beautiful", "That's me", "Listen on Five" and an instrumental "Patricia", the group wanted to get the songs professionally published and recorded. Charterhouse alumnus Jonathan King had left in 1965 and achieved immediate success in the pop world with "Everyone's Gone to the Moon", so he seemed a natural choice as a publisher and producer. The group got a friend to give the tape to King, who was immediately enthusiastic, later saying "I thought it was fabulous". Under King's advice, the group recorded another demo, which led to a recording contract with him.
The group recorded another session at Regent Sound Studio in Denmark Street, London, where they attempted a number of longer and more complex songs, but King was unhappy with these, and advised that the group should stick to straightforward pop. In response, Banks and Gabriel wrote "The Silent Sun", a pastiche of the Bee Gees, one of King's favourite bands. The song was chosen to be their first single and it was recorded at Regent in December 1967. The group suggested a number of names, including King's suggestion of Gabriel's Angels and Champagne Meadow from Phillips, before taking King's suggestion of Genesis, indicating the start of his production career. The single achieved airplay on BBC Radio One and Radio Caroline, but the record didn't sell. A further single, "A Winter's Tale" was recorded and released in 1968, but it also failed to chart. Shortly afterwards, Stewart left the group as he lacked the dedication and drive of the others, and had no input into songwriting. He was replaced by John Silver.
|1967||Gabriel, Banks, Phillips, Rutherford, Stewart|
|1968||Gabriel, Banks, Phillips, Rutherford, Silver|
|1969||Gabriel, Banks, Phillips, Rutherford, Mayhew|
|1970||Gabriel, Banks, Barnard, Rutherford, Collins|
|1971||Gabriel, Banks, Hackett, Rutherford, Collins|
|1975||Collins, Banks, Hackett, Rutherford 1|
|1977||Collins, Banks, Rutherford 2|
|1997||Wilson, Banks, Rutherford 3|
|1999||Band on hiatus|
|2006||Collins, Banks, Rutherford 2|
Though the singles didn't sell, King felt that the group's songwriting and sound might be better suited to an album. The result, From Genesis to Revelation, was recorded over a ten day period in August 1968 and released in March 1969 on Decca Records. King assembled the tracks as a concept album, which he produced, while Arther Greenslade added string arrangements. The band were unhappy with the presence of the strings, which they felt swamped the rest of the instruments. The album omitted the group's name as Decca noticed there was another group in the US called Genesis, and simply listed the title on a black cover. The album sold a minimal 649 copies and Genesis split with both Decca and King, who continues to hold the rights to the album, reissuing it several times under a variety of names. The band have since given a negative view of the album and have been embarrassed by its re-releases.
Following the recording of From Genesis to Revelation, the band went their separate ways. Gabriel and Phillips stayed at Charterhouse, while Banks started a maths, physics and philosophy degree at Sussex University and Rutherford moved to Farnborough College of Technology. They regrouped in the summer of 1969 to discuss what future the group held, given they had offers of further education that would have led to the group splitting up. Phillips and Rutherford decided they would turn professional and make music a full-time career, as they were starting to write music that was more complex and advanced than the earlier work with King. Silver decided to leave the group to study in the US, and was replaced by John Mayhew, who had been recruited by an advertisement in Melody Maker.
The group relocated to Dorking, Surrey and lived in a cottage owned by the parents of Richard MacPhail, a friend from Charterhouse. They played their first gig in September 1969, and continued to write and rehearse in the cottage until April 1970, by which time they had enough material for an album. The band developed a strong working ethic, playing together for as much as 11 hours a day. Banks later said they were "trying to do something adventurous musically". Gabriel managed to book the band for a gig at Brunel University, which won them several fans and allowed them to secure a six-week residency at Ronnie Scotts during March and April. The group were spotted by Charisma Records' producer John Anthony, who enjoyed the performance and persuaded his boss, label owner Tony Stratton-Smith to sign the group.  They would remain at Charisma until the label's demise in 1986.
Recording for the band's second album, Trespass, began in June 1970 at Trident Studios with Anthony producing. The album was produced from many of the songs the band had written in Dorking, and included folk influences and progressive rock elements, such as complex arrangements and time signature changes used in the closing song "The Knife". The album's cover was designed by Paul Whitehead, who would illustrate the covers for the band's next two albums.
Shortly after recording Trespass, Phillips decided to leave the group. He had felt that the increased workload of gigs had stopped the band from being creative as it had been previously, and that a number of acoustic pieces he wrote were dropped from the live set and not considered for recording. He had contracted bronchial pneumonia and became isolated from the rest of the band, feeling that it had too many songwriters in it. Phillips had been an important member of the band, being the most encouraging and instrumental in encouraging them to turn professional, and his departure has since been described by the rest of the band as the greatest threat to the band and the biggest to overcome. Driving home from Phillips' last gig, the rest of the band discussed their future. Gabriel and Rutherford decided they would continue, while Banks agreed on the condition that they also find a new drummer that was of equal stature to the rest of the group. Mayhew was therefore fired, though Phillips later thought Mayhew's working-class background clashed with the rest of the band and damaged his confidence at drumming. Trespass was released in October 1970, and though commercially unsuccessful in the UK, topped the charts in Belgium. Initial sales of the album, though far greater than those of From Genesis to Revelation were minimal at around 6,000 copies worldwide. It peaked at #98 in the UK when reissued by Virgin Records in 1985.
In August 1970, Stratton-Smith advertised in Melody Maker for a replacement guitarist and drummer. Gabriel, Banks and Rutherford auditioned 15 drummers, but were particularly keen on Phil Collins, partly due to his playing skill, but also because of his sense of humour. Collins had stage school experience, and had played in a number of bands, including Flaming Youth. Though he was friends with Stratton-Smith, he was still required to audition for Genesis.
The group didn't find a suitable replacement for Phillips, so Banks learned how to play two keyboard parts simultaneously to cover for the lack of lead guitar and they resumed gigging as a four-piece. Mick Barnard briefly joined the band in November 1970 as the new guitarist, but they quickly discovered his playing expertise and experience wasn't up to the same standard as the rest of the group. In December, Gabriel spotted an advert in Melody Maker from Steve Hackett, who was looking for a band of "receptive musicians, determined to drive beyond existing stagnant music forms". Gabriel phoned former Quiet World guitarist Steve Hackett, asking him to listen to Trespass and attend a gig at the Lyceum. Hackett realised his guitar playing style would improve the band's sound and formed an immediate rapport with them, joining the band in January 1971.
Following the addition of Hackett, the band went on the "Six Bob Tour" with two other Charisma acts, Lindisfarne and Van der Graaf Generator. Those groups had had commercial success, but Genesis had a positive reception, with Melody Maker 's Michael Watts saying they "emerged with the greatest honours and audience acclaim". With no commercial success and little interest in hit singles, Genesis began to commit themselves to regular touring to build a live following, feeling it was the only way they would become successful.
The band started recording their third album Nursery Cryme in August 1971. The album includes "The Musical Box", which had been worked on with Phillips and Mayhew, but Hackett created new lead guitar parts. "For Absent Friends", written by Collins and Hackett and produced by John Anthony, is the first track to feature Collins on lead vocals. On "Seven Stones" and "The Fountain of Salmacis", a song based on Hermaphroditus, Banks used the same Mellotron used on In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson. Nursery Cryme was released on 12 November 1971 and would belatedly peak at number 39 in the UK in the spring of 1974. It continued the band's success in Italy after it reached number 4. Genesis resumed touring to support Nursery Cryme in November 1971, including their first dates outside of the UK, including dates in Belgium and Italy. Their performance at the year's Reading Festival was well received by the music press.
In August 1972, the band recorded Foxtrot at Island Studios. During the album's production two producers were used before John Burns took over which began a successful three-album collaboration. The album features what music critic and author Chris Welch described as "one of the group's most accomplished works", the 23-minute track "Supper's Ready". It remains the band's longest track recorded to date. Songs such as the Arthur C. Clarke-inspired "Watcher of the Skies" solidified their reputation as songwriters and performers. Gabriel's flamboyant and theatrical stage presence, which involved numerous and elaborate costumes and surreal spoken song introductions, made the band a popular live act. Foxtrot was released in October 1972. It reached number one in Italy and number 12 in the UK and still failed to chart in the US. The Foxtrot Tour began in September 1972 and lasted for one year which included the band's first North American dates. The tour spawned the band's first live album, Genesis Live, which became the band's highest UK chart position since its formation at number 9. It is their first album to break into the US charts with a peak of 105.
During the summer of 1973, Collins, Rutherford and Phillips started work on Phillips' The Geese and the Ghost album with songs, "Only Your Love", Silver Song" and "Master of Time". With Collins on lead vocals, Rutherford on bass and rhythm guitars. The album would not be released until 1977.
Following the Foxtrot Tour, Genesis returned to the studio to record Selling England by the Pound. The album's title refers to a UK Labour Party slogan in an effort to counter the impression that Genesis were becoming too US-oriented. On the opening track, "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight", Hackett became an early user of tapping and sweep-picking, two guitar techniques later popularised by Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen, respectively. Selling England By the Pound was released in October 1973 to a positive critical reception. The album reached number 3 in the UK and number 70 in the US. The track "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" was released as a single in the UK that peaked at number 17 and Firth of Fifth was a staple of album oriented FM stations. By 1973, the band signed Tony Smith as their new manager who published all subsequent Genesis songs through his company, Hit & Run Music Publishing.
In mid-1974, the band recorded their double concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. In contrast to the lengthy tracks featured on earlier albums, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is a collection of shorter tracks connected by a number of segues. The story tells the spiritual journey of Rael, a Puerto Rican youth living in New York City and his quest to establish his freedom and identity. During his adventure, Rael encounters several bizarre characters including the "Slippermen" and a Lamia. Influences for the story include Greek mythology, works by Keats, and Alejandro Jodorowsky's film El Topo. Producing the album strained relations between band members, particularly Banks and Gabriel, who had been good friends since they were at Charterhouse. Gabriel was the album's lyricist, except for the track "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" (for which Banks and Rutherford wrote the lyrics as Gabriel was falling behind), while the other band members wrote the music, with the exception of "Counting Out Time" and "The Chamber of 32 Doors", which were written by Gabriel alone. The other-worldly, burbling, sequenced synthesizer sounds and shattering glass loops on "The Waiting Room", as well as the vocal effects on "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" were dubbed "enossifications", sounds produced by ambient musician Brian Eno. Gabriel was enthusiastic about Eno's contributions but Banks was not enthusiastic, later saying "I don’t just want to hear this wobble sound". Eno's work on the album was done in exchange for Collins' percussion work on "Mother Whale Eyeless" off Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) album.
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was released on 18 November 1974. It reached number 10 in the UK and number 41 in the US. The band embarked on a 102-date tour of Europe and North America to support the album which began in October 1974 to the media and members of their UK fan club, and ended in May 1975. The setlist included The Lamb performed in its entirety with an encore, a choice that the band regretted as it lacked variety and that it compelled them to play songs that failed to come off well on stage. The tour's stage design included a pioneering laser lighting display, the majority of which were built by the Dutch technician Theo Botschuijver. A customised handheld unit was used to channel laser light, which allowed Gabriel to sweep the audience with various light effects.
It was during The Lamb tour when Gabriel announced to the band of his decision to leave Genesis following its conclusion. He cited estrangement from his bandmates and the strains of his marriage and the difficult birth of his first child which he explains on "White Shadow" from his second studio album. In his letter sent to the British press in August 1975 titled "Out, Angels Out", Gabriel explained that the "...vehicle we had built as a co-op to serve our songwriting became our master and had cooped us up inside the success we had wanted. It affected the attitudes and the spirit of the whole band. The music had not dried up and I still respect the other musicians, but our roles had set in hard." Gabriel indirectly refers to his departure on "Solsbury Hill", a track from his first solo album. The band decided to carry on without Gabriel. Gabriel still performed "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" and "Back In NYC" as show encores in his 1977-79 tours.
Sample of A Trick of the Tail from the album A Trick of the Tail. It is the first album with Collins as lead vocalist.
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The group auditioned lead singers to find a replacement for Gabriel. Phil Collins, who had provided backing vocals, coached prospective replacements. When the band was about to record the vocals for the album the members came to the realisation that Gabriel's possible replacement just wasn't the voice they needed. Collins asked the other members if he could give it a try. As his voice fit the already-completed music, Collins quickly completed the vocals and the band was left with the decision about what to do for live shows. Even though he had successfully completed the singing for the album, he still was unsure about leaving his drum kit and coming out front to sing for concert performances for 1976's A Trick of the Tail. New producer David Hentschel, who engineered Nursery Cryme, gave the album a clearer-sounding production. One music historian later opined that Collins sounded "more like Gabriel than Gabriel did". Collins joined jazz fusion group Brand X on their debut album Unorthodox Behaviour, which would have an influence on Genesis songs "Los Endos" and "Wot Gorilla?".
Despite the success of the album, the group remained concerned with their live shows, which now lacked Gabriel's elaborate costume changes and dramatic behaviour. Since Collins required the assistance of a second drummer while he sang, Bill Bruford, drummer for Yes and King Crimson was hired for the 1976 tour. Their first live performance without Gabriel, and the first with Collins as lead singer, was on 26 March 1976, in London, Ontario, Canada. Concert footage of this tour is shown in their 1977 concert film, Genesis: In Concert.
Later that year, Genesis recorded Wind & Wuthering, the first of two albums recorded at the Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek in the Netherlands. Released in December 1976, the album took its title from Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights, whose last lines—"listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth"—inspired the titles of the seventh and eighth tracks.
For the 1977 Genesis tour, the jazz fusion-trained Chester Thompson—a veteran of Weather Report and Frank Zappa—took on live drumming duties. In a lengthy interview with Robin Tolleson, Collins described the selection of Thompson to partake in the role as drummer for the band:
The thing that clinched me with Chester was a song called "More Trouble Every Day" (by Zappa, on Roxy & Elsewhere), which he and Ralph Humphrey play, and I heard that drum fill, which we actually do at the end of "Afterglow". They did that fill on the Zappa song and it floored me completely. I saw what two drummers could do. It could be like a machine. I play flams quite a lot, and with my flams and another drummer you get this huge, sort of solid, thick, backbeat. So one of the first things we did when I met Chester was get him to teach me that lick, and we always put it in the show somewhere. But that was really just listening to him. I had never met him. I rang him up and said, "Hi Chester, I've heard your stuff, would you like to play with Genesis?" He came over as a member. He didn't even audition. He just came over and set up his drums and we started rehearsing.
Collins's approach to Genesis shows differed from the theatrical performances of Gabriel, and his interpretations of older songs were lighter and more subtle. At the 1982 Milton Keynes reunion show, Gabriel admitted that Collins sang the songs "better", though never "quite like" him.
Hackett had become increasingly disenchanted with the band by the time of Wind & Wuthering's release, and he felt confined. He was the first member of the band to record a solo album, 1975's Voyage of the Acolyte, (with the assistance of Collins and Rutherford) and greatly enjoyed the feelings of control over the recording process that working within a group could not provide. Hackett's album featured Collins on drums, who did the lead vocal on "Star of Sirius", Rutherford on bass, and a Hackett/Rutherford track "Shadow of the Hierophant"; a track that Genesis rehearsed in 1972. Banks' reaction to Hackett's album was not very enthusiastic. Hackett had asked that a quarter of Wind & Wuthering be allocated to his songs, which Collins described as "a dumb way to work in a band context". While Hackett was given songwriting credits on the instrumental track "Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers..."/"...In That Quiet Earth", "Eleventh Earl of Mar", and "Inside and Out"(which was omitted from the album) the Hackett and Collins co-written "Blood on the Rooftops" was never performed live, and his song "Please Don't Touch" (the title track to his 1978 solo album Please Don't Touch, featuring Thompson) was rejected by the rest of the band after rehearsing the track, whom then opted for the shorter and catchier instrumental "Wot Gorilla?". Hackett left the band in the summer of 1977, phoning in his resignation at the studio while the band were mixing the live album Seconds Out; recorded during the 1976 and 1977 tours. Hackett's last studio performance with Genesis would be on the Spot the Pigeon EP.
Following the departure of Hackett, Rutherford took on guitar duties in the studio and the band were getting closer to a balance of what each member provided from a creative standpoint. The group decided to continue as a trio, a fact they acknowledged in the title of the 1978 album ...And Then There Were Three.... The album was a further move away from lengthy progressive epics (as explained in the lyrics on the song "Down and Out"), and yielded their first American radio hit, "Follow You Follow Me", whose popularity led to …And Then There Were Three… being the band's first US Platinum-certified album.
For live performances that year, Rutherford alternated again between guitar and bass with American Daryl Stuermer, formerly guitarist with French born violinist Jean-Luc Ponty's instrumental jazz fusion/jazz rock band. Generally, Rutherford played the guitar pieces he composed during the most recent album, but stuck with bass for all of the material recorded prior to 1978. Their 1978 world tour took them across North America, over to Europe, back to North America, and, eventually, to their first performances in Japan at the end of 1978. As the headline act, Genesis performed their first concert at Knebworth in Hertfordshire on 24 June 1978. On 29 July 1978, the band made their second appearance at Madison Square Garden, New York. Gabriel and Genesis did an encore of "I Know What I Like" at the end of the show. Genesis would play this venue again on all subsequent US tours except for the 1992 We Can't Dance tour (where they played Giants Stadium).
As the band had been recording and touring constantly since the winter of 1977–78, it was decided by Banks, Collins, and Rutherford to take the majority of 1979 off. Collins had previously informed his bandmates that he needed to attempt to save his marriage by following his wife to her new home in Vancouver. If they planned to go back into the studio, they were going to have to count him out. Banks and Rutherford responded by proposing that the band go into hiatus while he sorted out his family issues and record solo material in the meantime.
After his attempt to save his marriage (which ended in divorce), Collins returned to the UK in August 1979, and on 26 August 1979, Gabriel and Collins at the Reading Festival performed "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" and "Mother of Violence" as encores on Gabriel's Scratch tour. Collins found himself in a holding pattern while Tony Banks worked on A Curious Feeling (with help from Chester Thompson), Mike Rutherford worked on Smallcreep's Day (with help from Anthony Phillips). While recording Smallcreep's Day, Rutherford finished writing a side-b single "Compression" that was originally rehearsed with Genesis in 1973. Banks and Rutherford also contributed track "From the Undertow" on The Shout movie soundtrack; a track that was the original intro to "Undertow", while Hackett released Spectral Mornings and Defector. With time to spare and new equipment in his home, Collins immersed himself in the recording of home demos that would become his first solo album Face Value (released in 1981) and provide songs "Please Don't Ask" and "Misunderstanding" for the upcoming Genesis project. In addition, he rejoined jazz fusion / jazz rock band Brand X for their 1979 tour, played drums, and did lead vocal on "Don't Make Waves" and "Soho" on their album Product. Along with Gabriel, Collins drummed on Robert Fripp's Exposure, and assisted Gabriel in the making of Peter Gabriel. At this point, with the release of Phillips' 1979 Sides album, all current and former members of Genesis were making solo albums or in other bands.
When the three bandmates came back together to begin recording their next album from October to December 1979, Duke (1980), the product was much more the result of all three working together equally as three solo acts than the cohesive band Genesis once was. Genesis were no longer a homogeneous band but a solo act conglomeration. As a result of this writing arrangement, Collins's Motown/R&B-influenced pop song writing was present; it had been absent from previous Genesis albums. Duke was the real transition from their 1970s progressive rock sound to the 1980s pop era. The use of a drum machine became a consistent element on subsequent Genesis albums, as well as on Collins's solo releases. The first Genesis song to feature a drum machine was the Duke track "Duchess". The more commercial Duke was well received by the mainstream media, and was the band's first UK number one album, while the tracks "Misunderstanding" and "Turn It On Again" became live performance favourites. The drum machine Roland CR-78 that Collins used to make the sound effects on Duke, Abacab, his first solo album Face Value, and the Brand X song "Wal to Wal" was also used on Phillips' album 1984 in 1981.
Duke was followed by Abacab (1981), which features a collaboration with the Earth, Wind & Fire horn section on the track "No Reply at All". Most of the album's rehearsals took place at The Farm, the band's newly built studio in Surrey, and the site where all of their subsequent albums were recorded. The album used a forceful drum sound that used an effect called gated reverb, which uses a live—or artificially reverberated—sound relayed through a noise gate set, which rapidly cuts off when a particular volume threshold is reached. This results in a powerful "live" sounding, yet controlled, drum ambiance. The distinctive sound was first developed by Gabriel, Collins, and their co-producer/engineer Hugh Padgham, when Collins was recording the backing track for "Intruder", the first track on Gabriel's 1980 album. The technique had been apparent on Collins's "In the Air Tonight" from Face Value. The 'gated' drum sound would become an audio trademark of future Genesis and Collins albums.
In 1982, the band released the live double album Three Sides Live. The US version LP contains three sides of live material and a side of studio material. The studio material includes the song "Paperlate", which again features an Earth, Wind and Fire horn section. In the UK and the rest of Europe, the studio material was replaced by a fourth side of live recordings from previous tours. 1982 closed with a one-off performance alongside Gabriel and Hackett at the Milton Keynes Bowl, under the name Six of the Best. The concert was hastily put together to help raise money for Gabriel's WOMAD project, which at the time was suffering from considerable financial hardship. Hackett, who arrived late from South America, performed the final two songs of the show ("I Know What I Like (in Your Wardrobe)" and "The Knife") with his former bandmates.
On 29 January 1983, at a Steve Hackett show encore, Hackett, Gabriel, and Rutherford performed "Here Comes the Flood", "Solsbury Hill", "Reach Out, I'll be There" and "I Know What I Like" at Civic Hall in Guildford.
1983's eponymous Genesis album became their third consecutive number one album in the UK. The album includes the radio-friendly tracks "Mama" and "That's All". The track "Just a Job to Do" was later used as the theme song for 1985's ABC detective drama The Insiders. The final cut to hit the airwaves was "Taking It All Too Hard", which in addition to being highly played on AOR radio, crossed over to soft rock radio stations and became a fixture for 20 years. The album became a worldwide success.
In 1983 at a Peter Gabriel concert in London, drummer Jerry Marotta had injured his back and Collins agreed to fill in for him to play "Lay Your Hands On Me".
In 1984 Gabriel, Rutherford, and Collins contributed solo material to the Against All Odds film soundtrack, while Banks began work on his Soundtracks album. In 1985, Rutherford co-founded Mike + The Mechanics, and Hackett co-founded GTR with Steve Howe.
Genesis's highest-selling album, Invisible Touch, was released in 1986, at the height of Collins's popularity as a solo artist. The album yielded five US Top 5 singles: "Throwing It All Away", "In Too Deep", "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight", "Land of Confusion" and "Invisible Touch". The title track reached No. 1 in the United States, the only Genesis song to do so; however, it stalled at No. 15 in the UK. In September 1986, Genesis performed "Throwing It All Away" at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. On the last leg of the Invisible Touch Tour in July 1987, Genesis became the first band to play four sold out consecutive nights at Wembley Stadium, London. Genesis was the first band to use Vari*Lite technology, and the Prism sound system, all of which are now standard features of arena rock concerts.
Earlier that year, Collins viewed a spoof of himself on Spitting Image, a satirical British television show which used puppets to lampoon politicians and celebrities. He was impressed with the representation, and commissioned the show's creators, Peter Fluck and Roger Law, to work on the video for the "Land of Confusion" single. The video was formed as an ironic commentary on the Cold War, and played on the perception that the coalition's leaders were "trigger happy" with the nuclear "button". In addition to puppet representations of Banks, Collins and Rutherford, the video showed Ronald Reagan dressed as Superman. At the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards it was nominated for the MTV Video of the Year, losing to Gabriel's "Sledgehammer". At the 1988 Grammy Awards it won the award for Best Concept Music Video.
"Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" was used in a Michelob commercial—as was Collins's "In the Air Tonight"—while "In Too Deep" was featured in the film Mona Lisa. The instrumental "The Brazilian" appeared in the animated movie When the Wind Blows, alongside a score written by Roger Waters. "The Brazilian" also appeared on Magnum P.I. in its entirety in the episode Unfinished Business. At the 1988 Prince's Trust concert held in the Royal Albert Hall, London, Collins and Gabriel performed together for the first time since 1982. Collins was drummer for the house band, while Gabriel performed his hit single "Sledgehammer". As of September 2007, the two Genesis frontmen have not publicly played together since, although they did play together at Gabriel's wedding in 2002.
In 1990, Hackett and Rutherford participated in a charity called Rock Against Repatriation that included other musicians such as Marillion, Fish, Howard Jones, Paul Carrack, Bonnie Tyler and many others in a remake of Rod Steward's "Sailing"
After a hiatus of five years, Genesis reconvened for the 1991 album release We Can't Dance, Collins' last studio album with the group. The album features the hit singles "Jesus He Knows Me", "I Can't Dance", "No Son of Mine", "Hold on My Heart", "Tell Me Why" and "Never a Time" (a US release only), as well as lengthy pieces such as "Driving the Last Spike" and "Fading Lights". The album, which was produced by Nick Davis who had previously produced Marillion, includes "Since I Lost You", which Collins wrote in memory of Eric Clapton's son Conor. In 1993 it was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Album. At the 1993 American Music Awards on 25 January, Genesis won the award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group.
Collins left the band in March 1996. He reasoned that he "felt it time to change direction in my musical life. For me now, it will be music for movies, some jazz projects, and of course my solo career. I wish the guys in Genesis all the very best in their future. We remain the best of friends."
Rutherford and Banks decided to continue as Genesis. However, they required more than one new member, because the band had lost not only Collins, but also live musicians such as guitarist Daryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson. Stuermer was approached, but was working with Collins on his Dance into the Light album and touring with Collins at the time, as shown in Collins's Live and Loose in Paris DVD. Stuermer's last studio performance with Banks would be on Banks' Strictly Inc album. Thompson enquired regarding the vacant drum stool, but after being refused full-band membership, he ended his 19-year association with the band; He did, however, work with Hackett on his Genesis Revisited album and the tour which is shown on Hackett's The Tokyo Tapes DVD. During the recording of Genesis Revisited, Hackett finished writing a 1973 Gabriel song "Déjà Vu" that Genesis had rehearsed.  Eventually drumming duties were shared between Nir Zidkyahu, an Israeli session drummer, who had played with Hidden Persuaders, and Nick D'Virgilio, from the American progressive rock band Spock's Beard. The difference in their playing styles was marked; D'Virgilio played softer, more subtle rhythms in comparison to Zidkyahu's bombastic technique.
Two singers made the final vocal auditions, ex-Stiltskin singer Ray Wilson and David Longdon. Wilson was appointed as the new lead singer of Genesis in June 1997. On the band's criteria in the search for a singer, Banks noted: "We needed someone who fits as many of the things you require as possible — being able to improvise with the kind of music we write and also someone capable of jumping in at the deep end and fronting a band." Wilson was immediately incorporated into the songwriting process, being given "half-a-dozen" songs to work on and ending up with three co-writing credits on the final album.
1997's album Calling All Stations sold well in Europe, while the track "Congo" reached No. 29 in the UK. The album was not as successful in America, where it failed to reach the Billboard Top 50. During 1997 and 1998, Genesis toured across Europe; Banks, Rutherford, and Wilson were joined live by Zidkyahu and the guitarist Anthony Drennan, who previously had worked with Paul Brady and The Corrs. A concert of this tour was featured in Genesis's Live in Poland DVD. However, a planned American tour was cancelled due to the album's poor sales performance. Following the truncation of the Calling All Stations tour, Genesis dismissed Wilson and went on an extended hiatus, although the members remained in regular contact. In an April 2007 interview, Wilson expressed his disgust at how his dismissal was handled, saying "it was like death by silence."
In 1998, Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett, Phillips, Rutherford, and Silver gathered for a photo session and dinner to celebrate the release of a new box set, Genesis Archive 1967–75. In 1999, the 1971–75 line-up of Banks, Collins, Gabriel, Hackett and Rutherford released a new version of "The Carpet Crawlers" for the Turn It On Again: The Hits compilation. On 21 September 2000, Collins, Banks, and Rutherford along with Daryl Stuermer performed acoustic renditions of "I Can't Dance", "Invisible Touch", "Follow You, Follow Me", and "Turn It On Again" at the Music Managers Forum, in honour of their manager Tony Smith. Gabriel attended but did not perform. Most of the original members were involved in compiling the two Archive boxed-sets. Acoustic versions of "Afterglow", "No Son of Mine" and "Follow You, Follow Me" were recorded for a documentary film about the band's history at this time.
After much speculation regarding a reunion, Banks, Collins and Rutherford announced Turn It On Again: The Tour on 7 November 2006; nearly 40 years after the band first formed. The tour took place during summer 2007, and played twelve countries across Europe, followed by a second leg in North America. The trio had wanted to reunite as a five-piece with Gabriel and Hackett for a live performance of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. While Gabriel reportedly agreed in principle to perform, he was unable to commit to a date. In an 22 October 2012 Rolling Stone interview with Steve Hackett on the 2004 Genesis meeting, Hackett stated that a person in Genesis vetoed the idea of The Lamb Lies down on Broadway being performed as a musical without anyone else's say, and that's where Peter Gabriel lost interest. Collins later observed that "Peter is a little over-cautious about going back to something which fundamentally is just fun". Hackett agreed to participation but decided not to without Peter. Collins, Banks, and Rutherford toured with Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer.
The band and the producer since 1991, Nick Davis, remixed their back catalogue (into 5.1 and new stereo mixes) for release in three batches over the course of 2007 and 2008, each comprising a third of the band's albums (from Trespass to Calling All Stations) in a boxset-style release. Each album is presented as a double-disc set containing a multi-channel hybrid Super Audio CD, as well as a DVD-Video with DTS 24bit/96K and Dolby Digital 24bit/48K 5.1 tracks. The DVDs also include extras such as promo videos, live performances, TV appearances, tour programmes and new interviews in which the band discuss the period surrounding each album. (For the US and Canada pressings, the audio discs are regular CDs and not SACD hybrids.) These remasters were released in three box sets: Genesis 1976–1982 in May 2007, Genesis 1983–1998 in October 2007, and Genesis 1970–1975 in November 2008, in addition to each album being released individually. Each box set contains the albums from its designated time period, as well as a bonus CD/DVD-A of non-album tracks.
On 12 May 2007, the band were honourees at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors, along with Ozzy Osbourne, Heart and ZZ Top. Genesis performed "Turn It On Again", "No Son of Mine" and "Los Endos", which later was broadcast on VH1 in the US on 25 May 2007. On 11 June 2007 Genesis officially kicked off their 2007 Turn It On Again World Tour in Helsinki, Finland. The band performed over 50 shows in several countries including Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Poland, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. The German show was broadcast live to several cinemas across the UK and Europe. On 7 July 2007, Genesis participated at Live Earth, a series of concerts to promote action to confront global climate change at the new Wembley Stadium in London, along with other artists including Madonna, Duran Duran and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In an August 2007 interview, Collins has stated that the recording of a new album is currently "very, I repeat, very unlikely" [emphasis in original], citing a lack of both time and inspiration. However, Banks, on 22 August, stated "The three of us would be quite keen to have a go and see what happens."
On 2 October, Starbucks released the CD Sampler Genesis: 14 From Our Past, containing one song from each studio album from Trespass on (except Nursery Cryme).
An album of the reunion tour, entitled Live over Europe 2007 was released in November of that year. The tracklist features a balanced set list covering most of their career. None of the songs recorded during Ray Wilson's time with the band were featured. In addition to the aforementioned album, sound deck recordings of each show were released by "The Music" A DVD of the concert on 14 July 2007 in Rome's Circo Massimo, When in Rome 2007 was released on 26 May.
In an interview to celebrate the release of the Genesis: 1970–1975 boxset, Tony Banks revealed that it is a possibility that the band may reunite with Gabriel and Hackett. He said: "We've never said 'never' about it, you know. I know Phil (Collins) would be quite happy with the idea of just playing the drums; it would be quite fun for him. Mike (Rutherford) and I are certainly happy to do it. I know Steve (Hackett) is keen as well. I think it'd be down to Peter (Gabriel) more than anyone else." However, Collins has stated in various interviews that he is unable to play the drums due to a medical ailment. "After playing drums for 50 years, I've had to stop. My vertebrae have been crushing my spinal cord because of the position I drum in. It comes from years of playing. I can't even hold the sticks properly without it being painful, I even used to tape the sticks to my hands to get through."
On 10 September 2009, Collins revealed in a post on the official Genesis website that during the 2007 Turn It On Again tour, he dislocated a vertebra in his neck which has required surgery to repair. The injury and resulting recovery has made it "impossible to play the drums or piano" according to the article. However, Collins states that in a year's time or more this situation could change. Future plans for any Genesis reunion could hinge on Collins's ability to recover and play the drums again.
On 21 September 2009, Genesis released Genesis Live 1973–2007, a box set containing remixed and remastered editions of the band's first four live albums. The box includes Genesis Live and Seconds Out in both stereo and 5.1 surround sound versions, and Three Sides Live and The Way We Walk in stereo-only editions. On 23 November 2009, the band released a DVD box set of live concert videos filmed between 1981 and 1992.
On 15 March 2010, Genesis were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band were inducted by Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio. Collins, Banks, Rutherford and Hackett appeared at the ceremony, but Gabriel did not appear due to rehearsals for his solo tour to support his new solo album Scratch My Back. Genesis did not perform at the ceremony. Phish paid tribute to them by opening the show with "Watcher of the Skies" and then followed Anastasio's speech with a version of "No Reply at All".
In a September 2010 interview with Billboard, Collins was less than optimistic about the future of Genesis, stating "I think Genesis are no longer. I don't foresee me doing any more Genesis shows. Not because I don't like it or don't want to. But it doesn't fit in with my life and wanting to be with the boys, and taking onboard [my other interests like] the Alamo and writing a book about that. And the other stuff that I'd like to do – and that includes doing nothing as well. But also, I can't physically play the drums. I don't want to sound like a spoiled kid, like I've had my stuff and I don't want to do it any more. But I have done it all my life, and now I'm enjoying another side of life."
Citing family commitments, Collins announced on 4 March 2011 that he had ended his music career.
In an interview with Rolling Stone on 27 September 2011, Peter Gabriel said that a reunion with the classic line-up is still a possibility, but hopes remain very slim, stating "I won't say never ever, but it's in the outside department of the betting shop... if you stick with the stuff that nourishes you the most then you'll probably be the happiest." Asked about the future of Genesis during an interview on BBC Breakfast on 4 May 2012, Tony Banks replied "I think we probably won't do it. Phil, particularly, has sort of moved on somewhat. We did do that last tour three or four years ago as a sort of goodbye. That was the idea of it." On the same show with Hackett on 24 October 2012, Hackett stated "It has been discussed and I'm always up for it."
Genesis won the "Lifetime Achievement" award at the inaugural Progressive Music Awards in September 2012, with Banks and Rutherford (with Hackett on hand) receiving the reward on behalf of the entire band at the presentation evening on 5 September 2012.
On 22 October 2012, Hackett released Genesis Revisited II, which featured 17 Genesis songs from the period of Hackett's time with Genesis. The album features Phil Collins' son Simon Collins of Sound of Contact singing the "Apocalypse in 9/8" section of Supper's Ready. In a Rolling Stone interview with Hackett about a Genesis reunion, Hackett stated "I would say it's possible, but highly improbable. I've always been open to it. I'm not the guy who says no."
In 2013, Phil Collins stated in German media that he is considering a comeback, declaring: "I have started thinking about doing new stuff". He even stated that he considers a comeback as a member of Genesis. "Maybe playing some shows again, even with Genesis. Everything is possible. We could tour in Australia and South America. We haven't been there yet."
In March 2013, Hackett embarked on an extended tour of his Genesis Revisited II album, eventually adding Genesis stage favourites such as "Lillywhite Lilith", "The Knife" and "Squonk" to the playlist.
In an 21 August 2013 Rolling Stone interview with Trey Anastasio, he was hoping that Peter Gabriel would perform The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway with Phish on Halloween at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Trey stated "Peter Gabriel, we're your band"
On 29 October 2013, Hackett released the album Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith, which features a show from the Genesis Revisited II tour. During the touring of the album in Glasgow, Ray Wilson and Hackett did live versions of "The Carpet Crawlers" and "Entangled", which would be released on Hackett's Genesis Revisited: Live at Royal Albert Hall.
In an interview with the magazine Rolling Stone in December 2013, Gabriel addressed the possibility of a Gabriel/Genesis reunion. "It's never been ruled out. I'm trying to picture a time when it would top my priorities list though."
Gabriel was inducted as a solo artist into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 12 April 2014. After the ceremony he was asked again about a possible Genesis reunion saying, "I never say never. It really didn't happen last time. I think there's a small chance, but I don't think it's very high." In October 2014 Phil Collins ruled out any future reunion citing "There’s this incessant desire for it to happen. But I often think, 'Have people thought it through?' It’s not as if you're going to get Peter as singer, me as drummer. I can’t play any more, so it’s never going to happen. But even if it could, you’re not going to get Peter singing 'I Can’t Dance' or 'Invisible Touch' or 'Mama'".
Gabriel received the ‘prog god’ award at the 2014 Progressive Music Awards on 11 September 2014. Presenter and editor of Prog Magazine Jerry Ewing called it an "honour" to be able to give Gabriel the award.
Fisher Lane Farm (often referred to as just "The Farm") has been the band's main recording studio since 1980. It is located in Chiddingfold, Surrey, England, and the band has recorded every studio album since Abacab there. Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Phil Collins have also recorded there as solo artists or on side projects such as Mike + The Mechanics.
The Farm was initially formed by a cowshed located beside a cottage, hence the full name "Fisher Lane Farm". It was remodelled into a studio in 1980, shortly before the band recorded Abacab. In 1984, a new control room was added to the building, leaving the original control room to be an editing room. The cottage was sold to Genesis in 2000, and was retained as the band's main recording studio.
Throughout their career, Genesis has primarily been a vehicle for songwriting, with individual instruments and styles merely serving the song in question. Though the group have been labelled as Progressive Rock and Arena Rock, Rutherford stated "we've never been worried about technique. We're much more concerned with feel." Band biographers Dave Bowler and Bryan Dray believe the emphasis on songs provides the common link between Trespass and We Can't Dance despite their apparent musical differences.
Genesis has taken influence from a wide range of music, ranging from classical music to mainstream rock and jazz. The group's public school background meant they took equal influence from classical and church music as well as the contemporary rock music of the 1960s. Classical music was an influence on Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips and Steve Hackett in particular. Gabriel and Banks were big fans of Simon and Garfunkel. Banks also drew influence from Alan Price of The Animals, whom he regarded as "[t]he first person who made me aware of the organ in a rock context". Collins has cited Buddy Rich and the jazz-rock outfits The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report. He was heavily influenced by The Beatles, the band he cited as the reason he started making music, The Action ("They were big heroes of mine, especially their drummer, who I copied all the time") and the soul music of Motown, Stax Records and Atlantic Records. Hackett's formative years were also influenced by The Beatles, and he has cited "I Feel Fine" as one of the records he learned to play guitar from. Gabriel's early career with Genesis took influence from Nina Simone and King Crimson.
As a group that influenced the growth of the progressive rock genre, Genesis has been cited as an influence on a number of bands including Rush, Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Iron Maiden, Sound of Contact, Spock's Beard, and Dream Theater. Simple Minds singer Jim Kerr's first concert was on the band's Foxtrot tour, which he described as "just the most terrific gig and in a way my life was never quite the same again." They have also been cited as an influence by alternative rock bands Elbow and Coheed and Cambria. Several Genesis tribute bands, including ReGenesis, The Musical Box and the Italian progressive rock band The Watch routinely perform material from the Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins eras.
Collins became the first artist to cover a Genesis song in a studio release, "Behind the Lines"', which he included on Face Value one year after its original release. Other former members previously and subsequently performed the band's material live during their solo shows—Gabriel played "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" and "Back in NYC", while Hackett has performed "In That Quiet Earth", "Los Endos", "Horizons", "Firth of Fifth" and "Blood on the Rooftops", among others. Hackett has performed "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" on his own solo tours, and on a 1986 tour with his short lived supergroup GTR. Rutherford has performed "I Can't Dance" during his tours with the Mechanics. Collins also later formed The Phil Collins Big Band, which played jazz arrangements of Genesis songs, which were "That's All", "Invisible Touch", "Hold on My Heart" and "Los Endos" (renamed "The Los Endos Suite"), during its 1998 world tour. Ray Wilson has covered the most Genesis songs during his solo concerts. His two solo live albums, Live and Life and Acoustic, feature the Genesis songs "The Carpet Crawlers", "Follow You Follow Me", "I Can't Dance", "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", "No Son of Mine", "Shipwrecked", and "Mama". He has interpreted two songs from the solo careers of his two predecessors – "In the Air Tonight" (Collins) and "Biko" (Gabriel).
Jeff Buckley reworked "Back in NYC" for the posthumously released 1998 Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk; And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead also covered "Back in NYC" as a B-side in 2005. The Brazilian power metal band Angra covered "Mama" in 2002. The Swedish melodic death metal band In Flames covered "Land of Confusion" on Trigger, as did Disturbed on their 2005 album Ten Thousand Fists. Disco-pop band Alcazar, also from Sweden, has covered parts of "Land of Confusion" on their song "This is the World We Live in". Dream Theater covered "Turn It On Again" as part of their song "The Big Medley". In 2007, Simon Collins recorded his own version of "Keep It Dark" with the assistance of sound designer and future bandmate Dave Kerzner as a tribute to the 40th anniversary of his father's band. Collins and Kerzner met at rehearsals for Genesis's 2007 Turn It On Again tour. The duo would later form their own progressive rock band, Sound of Contact, inspired by Collins' experiences on tour with Genesis in his youth as well as Kerzner's appreciation for the band. Collins and Kerzner also provided vocals and keyboards, respectively, on Steve Hackett's 2012 album, Genesis Revisited II.
Inducting the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, Trey Anastasio of Phish acclaimed Genesis as "rebellious, restless and constantly striving for something more … 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."
Beyond purely musical ventures, the theatrical style of Genesis's 1970s concerts with Gabriel and advanced lighting of their 1980s shows have provided inspiration for Cirque du Soleil's productions: the 2004 anniversary show Midnight Sun and the arena-based touring show Delirium trace their musical and multimedia elements back to these concerts. According to Victor Pilon, co-creator and co-director of both shows, "We're not inventing anything. Genesis did it years ago. We're just using new technology."
The band's album covers often incorporate complex and intricate art intended to reflect the themes explored in the music. The initial release of the band's first album, From Genesis to Revelation, used a plain black sleeve with Genesis written in a green gothic typeface. The three subsequent album covers were developed by the popular Charisma Records graphic artist Paul Whitehead. The Foxtrot sleeve depicts a feminine figure in a red dress with the head of a fox. Whitehead has said in an interview that Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" was an inspiration for the character.
The cover art for Selling England by the Pound was painted by Betty Swanwick. Peter Gabriel saw the original drawing, called The Dream, at an exhibition and asked Swanwick to modify it for use as the album cover. Most notably, Swanwick added a lawnmower to the image to tie the painting to the lyrics of "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)".
After Whitehead moved to Los Angeles, Genesis signed with the art collective Hipgnosis, whose artists had created high profile album covers for Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy. Hipgnosis's first Genesis album cover was for The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which featured a male model, credited simply as "Omar", portraying the album's protagonist "Rael". Peter Gabriel has said in an interview for the 2008 box-set release of The Lamb that he was not happy about the choice of model as he had vividly imagined Rael as being Puerto Rican.
Through the rest of the 1970s, various Hipgnosis artists designed Genesis' studio album covers. The Trick of the Tail cover depicts the characters from the album songs, including the robber from "Robbery, Assault and Battery", the beast from the title track, and a metaphoric image of old age reminiscing on youth from the song "Ripples..." and a squonk (from the song of the same name) is also featured on the rear of the cover. Beginning with Duke, Genesis albums have featured artwork designed by Bill Smith Studios. The band's highest-selling album Invisible Touch, features the artwork of Assorted Images, which had previously designed sleeves for Simple Minds, Duran Duran and Culture Club. The We Can't Dance cover art features the work of Felicity Roma Bowers, and is reminiscent of Wind & Wuthering, now presented in hazy watercolour. The Calling All Stations and the compilation Turn It On Again: The Hits sleeves were designed by Wherefore Art?.
Early incarnations of Genesis were often targets for criticism during the 1970s. An article in Q Magazine describes a 1977 Ray Lowry cartoon which depicted an arena of "either asleep, moribund, [or] comatose" fans watching a live Genesis performance, with the band's name emblazoned on a banner above the stage reading "GENESNOOZE".
More specifically, some in Britain – especially supporters of the punk movement – regarded Genesis in particular, but also the progressive rock genre more generally, as overtly middle class (paying particular attention to Gabriel, Banks and Rutherford's private education), and claimed that rock music was being taken away from the working class, whom they regarded as its core audience. Peter Gabriel claimed that their audience was a "mixture of social classes" and that such a suggestion was a fabrication of the critics. In 2013, Gabriel told Mojo: "To this day, we’ve never outgrown the snotty rich-kid thing. It used to piss me off seeing all these 'people's hero' musicians – like Joe Strummer – who’d come from a similar background to mine, but were keeping it quiet. In Genesis we were always very straight about where we came from, and we were middle-class, not aristocratic."
Gabriel's theatrics were unpalatable to some of the mainstream rock audience, resulting in a cult following rather than mainstream. This was exemplified during live performances of Gabriel's last Genesis album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, during which he appeared on stage as various characters in the album's lyrics. The elaborate storyline for The Lamb proved difficult to understand and accept, and caused a bit of friction within the band. Collins later recalled that Gabriel would "be in a Slipperman costume trying to get a mic anywhere near his throat, and be out of breath—all twisted up. Towards the end I felt the singing wasn't really being heard; the songs weren't really being heard".
BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel championed the band in their early years and they performed three sessions for him between 1970 and 1972, but "he grew disillusioned with their later excesses". Peel was quoted: "I used to go and see Genesis and after about three minutes I'd think, oh, I wish this would stop!"
Conversely, the band's transition from lengthy, complex songs to more compact, simplistic, radio-friendly material was not welcomed by critics; Rolling Stone''s review of ...And Then There Were Three... read: "...this contemptible opus is but the palest shadow of the group's earlier accomplishments." "I don't feel we've bastardised the way we were", Collins remarked in an interview with Music Express: "on a generous day I'll blame me for the change, but I just think it is us growing up, listening to different things".
In 1987, Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn stated: "There's something flabbergastingly insignificant about Genesis. Its themes touch on the usual subjects – various desires and disappointments in love and life – but there is scant discovery. That isn't music that documents our times or questions our assumptions, the way involving art does. Rather than bite, probe or surprise, Genesis' music just lulls. No wonder it fits so perfectly into beer commercials." Hilburn expressed more admiration for the earlier version of the band, describing it as "a promising, if often overly ambitious progressive-rock entry, highlighted by expert musicianship and the showmanship/imagination of lead singer Peter Gabriel."
Reviewing Genesis 1976–1982 in Q, Andy Fyfe wrote: "... in spite of 150 [sic] million album sales the bottom line is that little of the band’s output has aged well ... There are moments of impressive songwriting, such as the tender "Many Too Many", the darkly tragic "Duchess" and epic "One for the Vine", but little of Genesis's music transcends in the way real classics do, and that is why they will remain perennial whipping boys for decades to come."
Music critic J. D. Considine wrote of the band:
Genesis has had a hard time getting respect. In the early '70s, when the group specialised in ambitious, theatrical story-songs, it attracted an avid cult following but was largely ignored by the rock press and public at large. Later in the decade, lead singer Peter Gabriel was finally recognised as a major talent – but only after he'd left the band, who were at this point being derided as middlebrow throwbacks still in thrall to the pomposities of art rock. Even in the early '80s, when Genesis did finally shed its art-rock inclinations and move toward pop, becoming international stars in the process, the press was unimpressed, dismissing the group as easy-listening lightweights. By the '90s, even the solo success of members Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford was being held against the group, by then one of the best-known rock acts in the world. All of which, to be honest, has been grossly unfair to the group. Granted, Genesis has made its share of mediocre albums – perhaps even more than its share, considering how long the band has been around. But bad albums? None to speak of.
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