Genesis are an English rock band that formed in 1967. The band currently consists of its three longest-tenured members, Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar), who were founder members; and Phil Collins (vocals, drums), who first joined in 1970. Past members Peter Gabriel (vocals, flute), Steve Hackett (guitar) and Anthony Phillips (guitar), also played major roles in the band in its early years. Genesis are among the top 30 highest-selling recording artists of all time, with approximately 150 million albums sold worldwide.

In the late 1960s, with the release of their first album, Genesis's music was initially regarded by the band and the fans as a pop experiment, referring to then-popular melodic pop. Then, over the course of a year, (beginning with their second album in mid-1970) they quickly evolved into a progressive rock band with the incorporation of complex song structures and elaborate instrumentation. Their concerts became theatrical experiences with innovative stage design, pyrotechnics, extravagant costumes and on-stage stories. This second phase was characterised by lengthy performances such as the 23-minute "Supper's Ready" and the 1974 concept album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. In the late '70s and early '80s the band's musical direction changed once again, becoming more pop oriented and commercially accessible. This resulted in their first top 40 single in the US with "Follow You Follow Me", their first number one album in the United Kingdom, Duke, and their only number one single in the United States, "Invisible Touch".

Genesis has undergone several personnel changes throughout its history. Stage fright forced founding member Anthony Phillips to leave the band in 1970. In 1975, Collins, then the band's drummer, replaced Peter Gabriel as lead singer after a lengthy search for a replacement. To facilitate Collins's move to lead vocals during concerts, Bill Bruford and Chester Thompson played drums for the band as they toured, with Collins joining in briefly during lengthy instrumental passages. In 1977, guitarist Steve Hackett left the band. After Phil Collins left the band in 1996, Genesis recruited Ray Wilson (formerly of Stiltskin). Wilson appeared on the 1997 album Calling All Stations, after which the band announced an indefinite hiatus. In 2007, Banks, Collins and Rutherford reunited for a 20-city tour of Europe and North America, which included a free concert at Rome's Circo Massimo in front of 500,000 fans. Genesis were among five bands inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. The future of the band remains uncertain with Collins's retirement from the music business and the other members' solo work.

1967–1970: The beginning

Peter Gabriel
Tony Banks

Genesis formed in 1967 when Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks were students at Charterhouse School in Godalming. Formed out of school bands Garden Wall and The Anon, Genesis's original line-up consisted of Peter Gabriel (vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitar), Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass & guitar) and Chris Stewart (drums). The group (minus Stewart) originally formed as a songwriting partnership with no intention of performing, but with more and more bands writing their own songs, there was no demand for a team of young and inexperienced songwriters. Charterhouse School alumnus Jonathan King attended a concert at Charterhouse in 1968 while the band were still in school. Following the concert, another student gave King a tape of songs the band had recorded and King thought enough of them to sign them to a recording contract. King was a songwriter and record producer who had a hit single at the time, "Everyone's Gone to the Moon". King named the band Genesis (after previously suggesting the name Gabriel's Angels), recalling that he had "thought it was a good name... it suggested the beginning of a new sound and a new feeling." 

Anthony Phillips
The resulting album, From Genesis to Revelation, was released on Decca Records in March 1969. During the sessions, Stewart was replaced by John Silver on drums. The band recorded a series of songs influenced by the light pop style of the Bee Gees, one of King's favourite bands at the time. King assembled the tracks as a concept album, and added string arrangements during the production. Their first single, "The Silent Sun", was released in February 1968. The album sold poorly but the band, on advice from King, decided to pursue a career in music. King holds the rights to the songs on the From Genesis to Revelation album and has re-released it many times under a variety of names, including In the Beginning, Where the Sour Turns to Sweet, Rock Roots: Genesis, ...And the Word Was, and most recently, The Genesis of Genesis.

Silver was replaced by John Mayhew before the recording of Trespass. Genesis then secured a new recording contract with Charisma Records. The band had built a following through live performances which featured the band's hypnotic, dark and haunting melodies and Gabriel's numerous eye-catching costumes, and these performances also captured the interest of Charisma founder Tony Stratton-Smith. Trespass, which was made from many of the songs the band had written during their earliest live shows, was the template for the band's albums in the 1970s: lengthy, sometimes operatic pieces resembling the style of progressive rock bands such as King Crimson, Yes and Gentle Giant, along with the occasional shorter and more accessible, sometimes humorous, number. Trespass included progressive rock elements such as elaborate arrangements and time signature changes, as in the nine-minute song "The Knife".

The Knife

Steve Hackett
Phil Collins
Stage fright caused Anthony Phillips to leave the band in the summer of 1970. Phillips would later record many solo albums, sometimes in collaboration with other Genesis members. Phillips's departure traumatised Banks and Rutherford, causing the band to doubt whether it could continue. However, the remaining members decided to carry on, replacing Mayhew with Phil Collins on drums, and then Phillips with Steve Hackett, formerly of Quiet World, on guitar in January 1971. 

1971–1975: The classic era

Collins and Hackett made their studio debut in 1971 on Nursery Cryme, which features "The Musical Box" and Collins's first lead vocal performance in "For Absent Friends"; the song was also the first written by new members Collins and Hackett within the band. Two engineers were hired and then quit before John Burns took over during the recording of their next album, and this began a successful three-album collaboration between Burns and the group.

The Musical Box

The next album, Foxtrot, was released in October 1972 and contains what has been described as "one of the group's most accomplished works", the 23-minute multi-part epic "Supper's Ready". 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. A live album, Genesis Live, was recorded on the Foxtrot tour in 1973, shortly before the band's upcoming studio album was released.

Supper's Ready

Selling England by the Pound was released in November 1973 and was well received by critics and fans. Gabriel insisted on the title, a reference to a current Labour Party slogan, in an effort to counter the impression that Genesis were becoming too US-oriented. The album contains "Firth of Fifth" and "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)"; these songs became part of their live repertoire, with the latter becoming their first charting single, reaching No. 17 on the UK singles charts.

Firth of Fifth

During this period Hackett became an early user of the electric guitar "tapping" technique, which was later popularised by Eddie Van Halen, as well as "sweep-picking", which was popularised in the 1980s by Yngwie Malmsteen. These guitar techniques were incorporated in the song "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight". At the same time, the band signed with new manager Tony Smith, who published all subsequent Genesis songs through his company Hit & Run Music Publishing.

Dancing with the Moonlit Knight

In 1974, Genesis recorded a double disc concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway which was released on 18 November. 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 describes 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 The Lamia, the latter being borrowed from Greek mythology and influenced by a poem by Keats. The band embarked on a world tour to promote the album, performing it 102 times in its entirety, with Gabriel adding spoken narration. This choice of set was soon regretted by the band members, since it lacked the variety of playing material from throughout their career and compelled them to perform songs which didn't work well live. During their live performances, Genesis pioneered the use of lasers and other light effects, most 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. Creating the ambitious The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album strained relations between band members, particularly Banks and Gabriel, who were good friends. Gabriel was the album's lyricist, while the other band members (chiefly Banks and Rutherford) wrote the music, with the exception of "Counting Out Time" and "The Carpet Crawlers". "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" was co-authored by Banks and Rutherford. The other-worldly, burbling, sequenced synth sounds and shattering glass loops in the track "The Waiting Room", as well as the vocal effects in the track "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" coined "Enossifications", were produced by the ambient composer Brian Eno.

Cuckoo Cocoon

During the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour, Gabriel announced to his bandmates that he had decided to leave the band, citing estrangement from the other members, and the strains of his marriage and the difficult birth of his first child. Nonetheless, he saw his commitment through to the conclusion of the tour. In a letter to fans, delivered through the music press at the end of the tour, entitled 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." Collins later remarked that the other members "...were not stunned by Peter's departure because we had known about it for quite a while." The band decided to carry on without Gabriel. Gabriel's first solo album, Peter Gabriel 1977, features the hit single "Solsbury Hill", an allegory that refers to his departure from the band.

1976–1977: The four-man era

The group auditioned reportedly over 400 lead singers to find a replacement for Gabriel. Phil Collins, who had provided backing vocals, coached prospective replacements. Eventually, the band decided to use Phil Collins as the lead vocalist for 1976's A Trick of the Tail. The new producer David Hentschel, who had served as engineer on Nursery Cryme, gave the album a clearer-sounding production. Music historians later commented that Collins sounded "more like Gabriel than Gabriel did". 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 Peter Gabriel was on 26 March 1976, in London, Ontario, Canada.

Dance on a Volcano

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 the second part of its title from Emily Brontë's novel Wuthering Heights, whose last lines -"how anyone 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. 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. Wind and Wuthering is the last album made by the "old" prog rock Genesis

In that quiet Earth

Guitarist Steve Hackett had become increasingly disenchanted with the band by the time of Wind & Wuthering's release, he felt confined and left the band. The group decided to continue as a trio, a fact they acknowledged in the title of the 1978 album ...And Then There Were Three... and they began to move away from the dying embers of progressive rock. They established themselves as a more commercially-friendly band with the release of their 1978 album, scoring their first US hit with the single Follow You Follow Me.

1969-1976  DISCOGRAPHY
(studio albums)

From Genesis to Revelation (1969):
1. Where the Sour Turns to Sweet
2. In the Beginning
3. Fireside Song
4. The Serpent
5. Am I Very Wrong?
6. In the Wilderness
7. The Conqueror
8. In Hiding
9. One Day
10. Window
11. In Limbo
12. Silent Sun
13. A Place to Call My Own

Trespass (1970):
1. Looking for Someone
2. White Mountain
3. Visions of Angels
4. Stagnation
5. Dusk
6. The Knife

Nursery Cryme (1971):
1. The Musical Box
2. For Absent Friends
3. The Return of the Giant Hogweed
4. Seven Stones
5. Harold the Barrel
6. Harlequin
7. The Fountain of Salmacis

Foxtrot (1972):
1. Watcher of the Skies
2. Time Table
3. Get 'Em Out by Friday
4. Can-Utility and the Coastliners
5. Horizons'
6. Supper's Ready
I. Lover's Leap
II. The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man
III. Ikhnaton and Itsacon and Their Band of Merry Men
IV. How Dare I Be So Beautiful?
V. Willow Farm
VI. Apocalypse in 9/8 (Co-Starring the Delicious Talents of Gabble Ratchet)
VII. As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet)

Selling England by the Pound (1973):
1. Dancing with the Moonlit Knight
2. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)
3. Firth of Fifth
4. More Fool Me
5. The Battle of Epping Forest
6. After the Ordeal
7. The Cinema Show
8. Aisle of Plenty

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974):
Disc 1
1. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
2. Fly on a Windshield
3. Broadway Melody of 1974
4. Cuckoo Cocoon
5. In the Cage
6. The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
7. Back in N.Y.C.
8. Hairless Heart
9. Counting Out Time
10. The Carpet Crawlers
11. The Chamber of 32 Doors

Disc 2
1. Lilywhite Lilith
2. The Waiting Room
3. Anyway
4. Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist
5. The Lamia
6. Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats
7. The Colony of Slippermen
a. The Arrival
b. A Visit to the Doktor
c. Raven
8. Ravine
9. The Light Dies Down on Broadway
10. Riding the Scree
11. In the Rapids
12. It

A Trick of the Tail (1976):
1. Dance on a Volcano
2. Entangled
3. Squonk
4. Mad Man Moon
5. Robbery, Assault and Battery
6. Ripples...
7. A Trick of the Tail
8. Los Endos

Wind & Wuthering (1976):
1. Eleventh Earl of Mar
2. One for the Vine
3. Your Own Special Way
4. Wot Gorilla?
5. All in a Mouse's Night
6. Blood on the Rooftops
7. Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers…
8. …In That Quiet Earth
9. Afterglow

Watcher of the Skies