Introduction to one of successful rock bands in history
Genesis are a British classic rock and pop band formed in Surrey, England. It also launched the careers of eventual superstars Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins. It all started in 1967 with Gabriel and Tony Banks, and others – Gabriel, Banks, Anthony Philips, Mike Rutherford and Christ Stewart, all from Charterhouse School in Surrey. In 1970, personnel changes followed, with Philips leaving the band because of stage fright with Steve Hackett replacing him. Phil Collins also came in to replace the band’s second drummer John Mayhew; Collins would also contribute occasional lead vocals.
The band’s sound changed by the 1970s, evolving into a progressive rock band. The most notable album during their prog-rock days was their 1973 concept albumThe Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Gabriel quit Genesis in May 1975, just as the band were experiencing their commercial breakthrough. After a long search for Gabriel’s replacement, in the end Genesis preferred Collins to take the lead vocal duties.
The band, by then, were slowly inching their way into the American market, with their follow-up LP A Trick Of The Tail making it into the Top 40 album chart. In 1977 Hackett left the band. In 1978 remaining members of Genesis – Collins, Rutherford (who had taken on all guitar duties since Hackett left), and Banks – released an album appropriately titled And Then There Were Three, which marked their departure from their earlier progressive rock into a more accessible pop sound. Since then Genesis have mostly adapted this style, which brought them their greatest commercial successes in the 80s music era. Invisible Touch became their most successful album on their Billboard 200 history, peaking at #3 there, and going multi-platinum in 1983. Their 1991 album We Can’t Dance was also a huge success; at this point the members of the band were also doing solo projects, with Phil Collins having already attained superstar status in his own right. Collins left the band in 1996. Ray Wilson stood in as the new vocalist, but only for a short time. After a decade of relative inactivity, Collins, Banks and Rutherford reunited for a 20-city Genesis tour covering North America and Europe, performing for crowds of oldies music fans and newer generation of music enthusiasts. Genesis is on indefinite hiatus as of this writing.
Formation and brief “melodic pop” era
Genesis has undergone through many phases over the years: first it started out as a melodic pop band, then from the 1970s onwards as a progressive rock group, and by the 1980s as a more accessible pop act.
The genesis of well, Genesis — stemmed from two rival groups The Garden Wall and The Anon, during the mid-1960s. These groups were formed by pupils at Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey, England — singer Peter Gabriel, guitarist Anthony Philips, keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford, and drummer Chris Stewart. The boys would form the first lineup of Genesis, the name given to them by producer Jonathan King who was also a Charterhouse alum.
In 1967-1968 Genesis released their first singles, which attracted little notice. Likewise non-reaction for their very first LP, From Genesis To Revelation, released in 1969. The band were playing melodic pop and psychedelic music that were popular during that time. Their early work was highly reminiscent of the Bee Gees.
Progressive rock era
Personnel shifts were occurring early in the band’s career as they were trying to find their own sound as well as their audience. In 1969 John Mayhew came as the new drummer. Genesis later signed to a fledgling label Charisma and released their second album Trespass in 1970 — it marked a departure from their early sound and into progressive rock.
Trespass was to be their last album with Philips, who quit because of growing stage fright. Steve Hackett came to take over Philips’ guitar chores. Mayhew left the band as well, and was later replaced by new drummer Phil Collins who would also provide additional lead vocals. The newly-reformed Genesis released their third LP Nursery Cryme in 1971, which also featured the 10-minute “The Musical Box”, based on a Victorian-style fairy story/murder tale penned by Gabriel
Genesis’ next album Foxtrot was released in 1972; it became their first major hit album in England, peaking at #12 on the national album chart.
At this point Genesis were emerging themselves as a progressive rock band known for their complex song structures and their fantastic live performances in particular. Genesis’ concerts had become theatrical experiences, complete with elaborate sets and props. Peter Gabriel had begun to extensively use a variety of masks, make-up and costumes to accompany their onstage story telling. As moments passed, Genesis’ concerts had become virtually legendary.
Meanwhile in America, Genesis still remained cult favorites, but thanks to a lot more radio play, the band found new fans especially among the collegiate circuit.
Genesis’ fifth studio album Selling England By The Pound (1973) became their first Top 10 hit album in the UK, peaking at #3. It was also Genesis’ first album to break into the top 100 US Billboard pop album chart at #70.
1974’s The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was the band’s double concept album with a very involved storyline. It was a herculean creative effort by the band, especially by Gabriel. At this point, his creative difference with his bandmates soon grew worse during their tour in their support of the album. Gabriel left Genesis in 1975, at a time when the band were poised to achieve commercial breakthrough (Gabriel went on to have a successful solo career, with his 1986 hit “Sledgehammer” solidified his superstar status.)
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway went to #10 on the UK album chart, while it just missed the Top 40 albums list in the US.
Genesis were searching long and hard for Gabriel’s replacement but they found one right in their own yard, and that was drummer/vocalist Phil Collins. Collins took over as their new frontman, and required a second drummer to assist him. Bill Bruford, who had pummeled skins with Yes and King Crimsonm, filled such responsibility.
Genesis released A Trick Of The Tail (1976), their first outing with Collins as lead vocalist. The album went to #3 in the UK, and #31 in the US. The following year, they released Wind & Wuthering which featured an appealing pop single “Your Own Special Way”; it broke into the US Billboard Hot 100 for the first time at #62. The album went to #7 in the UK, #26 in the US.
Transformation into a more accessible pop act
Soon after, Hackett left Genesis, reducing the band into a threesome. They released another album which was appropriately titled …And Then There Were Three… in 1978. The album spawned the band’s first US Top 40 hit “Follow You Follow Me” (#23). Because of the success of the album, it netted Genesis their first US gold record award at the time following its release.
By this period, Genesis gradually moved away from their earlier progressive rock style and made their sound more accessible and pop-oriented.
Their plan worked for them, as it led Genesis into their breakout mainstream success in the 1980s. It started with their 1980 album Duke, which became their first #1 hit album in the UK, as well as went to #11 in the US pop album chart. Duke’s follow-up, Abacab (1981), was another UK chart-topper. Abacab also became their first album to break into the US Top 10, on the strength of four Billboard Top 40 hit singles “Misunderstanding” (at #14), “No Reply At All” (#29), “Man On The Corner” (#40) and the title track (#26). The success of Abacab got Genesis their first (double) platinum certification.
In 1983, the band released their self-titled twelth album Genesis, which only added into their stable of #1 UK albums. It also peaked at #7 on the US Billboard 200.
Huge successes with “Invisible Touch” and “We Can’t Dance”
In 1985, Genesis reached the pinnacle of commercial triumph with Invisible Touch. The album spawned an incredible five top 10 hits on the US Billboard Hot 100: “Throwing It All Away” (at #4), “Land Of Confusion” (#4), “In Too Deep” (#3), “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” (#3) and “Invisible Touch”, which is Genesis sole #1 hit to date. Invisible Touch sold over six million units in the US alone; it also went quadruple platinum in the UK.
Genesis were still riding on the crest of commercial peak when they went on a five-year hiatus. They returned in 1991 with We Can’t Dance, which also became as successful as Invisible Touch in terms of album sales. In the US, the album spawned the only top 10 hit “I Can’t Dance” (at #7); two top 20 hits “No Son Of Mine” (at #12) and “Hold On My Heart” (at #12); and two top 40 smashes “Jesus He Knows Me” (at #23) and “Never A Time” (at #21).
Later career and indefinite hiatus
We Can’t Dance sold over five million copies in the US alone, and went four times platinum in the UK. It was also to be the last album with Phil Collins, who had already become a superstar in his own right. Collins left in 1996, and Ray Wilson (formerly of Stiltskin) was hired as the group’s new lead vocalist. With Wilson, Genesis released the album Calling All Stations in 1997. It did well in Europe, but in America it failed to crack at the Top 40. Wilson left (or was dismissed) after the accompanying tour.
Genesis spent the next decade mostly on indefinite hiatus. In 2007 Collins, Banks and Rutherford reunited for a one-off European and North American tour. The tour included a massive free concert in Rome, which was attended by half a million fans. The European leg of the tour was recorded and released as a live albumLive Over Europe 2007, released later that year.
Genesis were inducted into the Rock and Hall Of Fame in 2010. In 2011, Collins announced that he was retiring in order to turn his focus to his family, as well for health reasons. His retirement made the future of Genesis vague and uncertain. However, in 2013 (as of this writing) some indications have been given out that Collins is considering a return to making music.