• British rock/prog rock band formed in 1967 in Goldalming, Surrey, England. The founding members were Peter Gabriel (lead vocals, flute, oboe, percussion), Anthony Phillips (guitars, backing vocals), Tony Banks (keyboards, backing vocals), Mike Rutherford (bass guitar, guitars, backing vocals) and Chris Stewart (drums). Phil Collins joined as drummer in 1970 and he took over lead vocals when Gabriel left in 1975. Genesis operated as a trio of Collins, Banks and Rutherford during their most successful years in the 80s. All members contributed to songwriting.
  • The original members all attended the same school together as teenagers. There were two bands at the school – Phillips and Rutherford played for a band called Anon, while Gabriel, Banks and Stewart played for a band called Garden Wall. By early 1967, both bands split up. Phillips and Rutherford continued to write songs together, and they had enough material to record a demo tape. They invited Gabriel, Banks and Stewart to contribute to the demo. Another alumnus of the school had had some success in the music business, so they gave the tape to him. He liked it, and the teens soon were signed to a recording contract, with the alumnus agreeing to produce for them. They considered several names for their group, including Gabriel’s Angels, until choosing Genesis – the start of their musical careers.
  • While they wanted to explore longer, complex songs, their producer preferred simple pop songs, so Gabriel and Banks wrote a folksy pop song titled The Silent Sun, which was released as their first single in 1968. It got limited airplay and did not chart. A second single released that year, A Winter’s Tale, also failed, and Stewart opted to leave the band. He was replaced by another schoolmate, John Silver.
  • The debut album for Genesis was released in 1969. Titled From Genesis to Revelation, it was produced as a concept album. To avoid confusion with an American band also named Genesis, the album was released without the name of the group on the cover. It failed to sell – many record stores filed it in the “Religious Music” section of their stores, based on the name of the album. After this, they were dropped by their label, and the group took a year off to ponder their future.
  • By mid-1969, they decided to make a career in music, and they recorded another demo tape. It was rejected by every record label, and Silver decided to leave – he was replaced by John Mayhew. They spent several months rehearsing to develop a stage presence, and in late 1969 they began to perform at various venues. An executive at a record label heard them perform and was sure that they had potential. They were signed to a new label.
  • Their second album, Trespass, was released in 1970. It was a progressive rock album which barely charted in the UK. Phillips decided to leave, and the group was at a crossroads. Gabriel, Banks and Rutherford decided to continue, but they wanted a new drummer, and Collins was chosen because of his confident playing and his strong backing vocals. Still looking for a guitarist, Mick Barnard was chosen, but after two months of performances, they dropped Barnard and brought in Steve Hackett. This lineup released four albums between 1971 and 1974. They began to be successful – 1973’s Selling England By the Pound album reached #3 in the UK and was their first to chart in the U.S., and 1974’s The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway also sold well – though singles from these albums generally did not chart due to their complexity.
  • While supporting these albums, their shows became elaborate, with Gabriel as a theatrical frontman wearing multiple costumes. As the media focused on Gabriel’s leadership, the rest of the band grew resentful. Ultimately, Gabriel decided to leave after their tour in 1975 to start a solo career (for more on Gabriel’s solo career, see my post from August 20, 2017). While working on a new album, the band advertised for a new vocalist, receiving 400 replies. They auditioned several but they were not satified. Collins then sang the vocal for one of the songs on the new album, and his bandmates decided that Collins should take lead vocal duties.
  • In 1976, they released two albums – A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering. Both sold well, but again, successful singles were hard to come by. Hackett decided to leave to start a solo career. Banks, Rutherford and Collins decided to operate as a trio, and they released …And Then Their Were Three… in 1978. It was the beginning of the most successful period for the band. Their first top 40 hit was from the album – Follow You Follow Me reached #7 in the UK and #23 on the Hot 100.
  • Still a progressive rock band, their songs became more radio friendly. Four albums released in the 80s – Duke, Abacab, Genesis and Invisible Touch – reached #1 in the UK and all were platinum in the U.S., with the latter two reaching 4x and 6x platimum respectively. Eleven singles reached the top 40 in the U.S. Their biggest hits were Misunderstanding (peaking at #14), That’s All (#6), Invisible Touch (#1), Throwing It All Away (#4), In Too Deep (#3), Land of Confusion (#4) and Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (#3). At the same time, Phil Collins launched a solo career, while still performing with Genesis – Collins released four solo albums in the 80s, all of which were multi-platium (for more on Collins’ solo career, see my post from September 19, 2020). Rutherford also launched a side project in 1985, called Mike and the Mechanics, releasing nine studio albums between 1985 and 2020. Banks also released six solo studio albums between 1979 and 2018.
  • In 1991, the band released the We Can’t Dance album. It was 4x platinum in sales, with five singles reaching the top 40, and the title track peaking at #7 on the Hot 100. It was their final successful album. After the tour to support the album, the members of the band took a break. In 1996, Collins announced that he was leaving the band. Banks and Rutherford opted to continue as Genesis, hiring Ray Wilson to replace Collins on vocals and using session drummers. Their 1997 album Calling All Stations was successful in the UK but not in the U.S. In 2000, Banks and Rutherford announced that Genesis was no more.
  • In 2006, Banks, Rutherford and Collins announced a reunion tour. After the tour, they went on hiatus again. Collins announced that he was no longer able to perform for health reasons. He ended his retirement in 2015, stating that he was open for a reunion. In 2020, a new tour was announced, then delayed by COVID. In September 2021, the tour began, with Collins’ son on drums. Collins performed most of the time sitting down – his poor health made it difficult to stand while singing.
  • Genesis only won one Grammy award – Best Concept Music Video for Land of Confusion. In 2010, they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. While I am a huge fan of Peter Gabriel as a solo artist, I much prefer Genesis with Collins on lead vocals, and their albums from the 80s are all classics. Here’s their Grammy winning video, with caricature puppets of the band members as well as other celebrities (Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Mr. Spock, Michael Jackson, and dozens more). Alas, it did not win the MTV Video of the Year award – Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer won it that year (yes, the same Gabriel who left Genesis eleven years earlier).

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