Steve Hackett

Stephen Richard Hackett is a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. He gained prominence as a member of the British progressive rock group Genesis, which he joined in 1970 and left in 1977 to pursue a solo career. Hackett contributed to six Genesis studio albums, three live albums and seven singles. In 1986, Hackett co-founded the supergroup GTR with another progressive guitarist, Steve Howe of Yes and Asia. The group released a self-titled album that year, which peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200 in the United States and spawned the Top 20 single "When the Heart Rules the Mind". When Hackett left GTR in 1987, the group disbanded. After leaving GTR, Hackett resumed his solo career and has released albums and toured on a regular basis since. His body of work has encompassed many styles, such as progressive rock, world musicclassical and pop. His playing has influenced guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen, Alex Lifeson of Rush and Brian May. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010.

Early career

Steve Hackett never received any formal instruction. His earliest musical influences were classical (Johann Sebastian Bach) and opera (Mario Lanza) and his earliest professional playing experience came with two bands -Canterbury Glass and Sarabande- both of whom performed rock with progressive elements. His first recording work came in 1970, as a member of Quiet World, a band that included his younger brother John Hackett on flute. The group released one album, The Road, but he departed the group soon after.


Seeking a new band, Hackett placed an advertisement in Melody Maker magazine. The advertisement, in which he stated he was seeking musicians "determined to strive beyond existing stagnant music forms," was spotted by Genesis vocalist Peter Gabriel, who contacted Hackett. After seeing Genesis perform, Hackett auditioned for the group and joined in December 1970. Hackett replaced founding guitarist Anthony Phillips and stayed with Genesis during their successful mid-70s progressive rock period. He had little on-stage playing experience, when he joined the band, and some initial difficulty performing with the group. But he soon settled into his role, and his unique stage image (wearing glasses and seated in a hunched position over his guitar) served as a counter to Gabriel's extravagant costumes and theatrics. His first recording with Genesis was Nursery Cryme, released in November 1971. Hackett made an immediate impact on the group's sound, becoming one of the first guitarists to experiment with the tapping technique normally attributed to Eddie Van Halen. Hackett has often claimed Eddie Van Halen told him that he learned the technique after attending a Genesis concert in the early 1970s. Included on 1972's album Foxtrot was Hackett's classical guitar solo composition "Horizons", which quickly became one of his signature pieces. In the group's 1973 effort, Selling England by the Pound, Hackett showed continued and perfected use of the tapping technique, as well as sweep picking, which was popularised in 1984 by Yngwie Malmsteen. The track "Firth of Fifth" contains one of Hackett's most well-known guitar solos. During the recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in 1974, Hackett's contribution shrank from what he had originally contributed on Selling England by the Pound. He attributed his lack of contribution to be that of not being able to come to grips with the material presented, and his failing marriage. Additionally, Hackett injured his hand after accidentally crushing a wine glass, which led to the delay of the Lamb tour. This additionally reflected the tension within the band. In 1975, Hackett became the first member of Genesis to release a solo album, when he issued Voyage of the Acolyte. Assisting with the recording were Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford. 

Ace of wands

A tower struck down

Hackett enjoyed the freedom he had, when writing and recording his own album, and thus began to become frustrated after returning to the group's more democratic approach to songwriting. The band reconvened after Peter Gabriel's departure to record the album A Trick Of The Tail (1976), with Collins performing lead vocals after no other singer could be found. Hackett had writing credits on a number of the songs, but felt constricted by his lack of freedom and level of input. His frustration increased as Genesis prepared to release in December 1976 Wind & Wuthering. Hackett was insistent that more of his material be included on the album, but was rebuffed. "Blood on the Rooftops", which Hackett wrote with Phil Collins, made the album but was never played live, and his composition "Please Don't Touch" was rejected completely. Another song, "Inside and Out", was relegated to the Spot the Pigeon EP. Hackett remained with Genesis through the conclusion of the Wind & Wuthering tour, but announced his departure on 8 October 1977, one week before the release of the group's second live album Seconds Out. Since Hackett's departure, the early 1970s lineup of Genesis has reunited on a handful of occasions. On 2 October 1982, the group gathered for a one-off performance entitled "Six of the Best", held to raise money for Peter Gabriel's WOMAD festival. This was the only time this lineup had performed since 1975.

Solo career

Hackett created in his solo albums his own style, dominated by his guitars, sometimes very classical or at times furious. For the most part, all of the compositions on Hackett's first five solo albums are well-thought-out and impeccably well crafted. His tracks go from a symphonic progressive style to a more energetic rock. Hackett's first post-Genesis album was Please Don't Touch, released in 1978. As with Voyage of the Acolyte (1975), much of the material on the album was in the style of progressive rock. It did contain, however, much more vocal work. Hackett, who had never sung lead on a Genesis song, turned over most of the vocals to a number of singers, including folk singer Richie Havens, R&B singer Randy Crawford, and Steve Walsh of American progressive rock group Kansas. He did provide lead vocals for "Carry on Up the Vicarage", but they were processed using a "laughing gnome" vocal effect. The album peaked at #38 on the UK chart and #103 on the Billboard pop Albums chart in the United States.

Please don't touch

A pair of progressive rock albums followed: 1979's Spectral Mornings (#22 UK Albums Chart) and 1980's Defector (#9 UK Albums Chart, they charted #138 and #144 in the United States, respectively). Hackett toured Europe for the first time as a solo act in 1979, and in August performed at the Reading Festival. The Defector-tour brought him to the United States for the first time since his final tour with Genesis.

Clocks (The Angel Of Mons)



Hackett's first major shift in musical style came with 1981's Cured. Although the album contained some of the progressive and classical pieces for which Hackett was known, it also showcased a much more pop approach. The album was recorded without most of the musicians who had been on Hackett's solo albums since Spectral Mornings. Hackett himself handled all lead vocal duties. Only longtime collaborators Nick Magnus and his brother John Hackett remained. While Cured did not chart highly in the U.S., it peaked at #15 in the UK.

The air-conditioned nightmare

In the 1980s, Hackett released his first classical guitar albums, Bay of Kings (1983, #70 UK Albums Chart) and Momentum (1988). The tour for Momentum drew large crowds in Europe, considered unusual for a classical guitarist. In 1983 Hackett participated on the British-Brazilian singer Ritchie's LP Voo de Coração. Hackett played guitar on various tracks, and most songs on the LP were hits on the Brazilian radio. On the rock production side, Hackett's work in the 1980s involved the LPs Highly Strung (1982, #16 UK Albums Chart) and Till We Have Faces (1984, #54 UK Albums Chart). Till We Have Faces merged Hackett style sounds with Brazilian percussion.

In 1986, Hackett formed the supergroup GTR with veteran Yes and Asia guitarist Steve Howe. The group released a gold-selling album, GTR (1986), produced by Yes/Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes. Hackett soon left GTR over financial and management squabbles. In addition to Howe and Downes, Hackett has also worked with Yes drummer Bill Bruford in Genesis, Yes bassist Chris Squire (Chris Squire's Swiss Choir, 2007) and briefly Yes vocalist Trevor Horn (who produced the 1999 reunion version of "The Carpet Crawlers"). He also performed alongside former Yes keyboard player Rick Wakeman on the latter's TV Show Gastank in the mid 1980s. Hackett's long-time keyboardist, Julian Colbeck, played live with Yes spin-off Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe.

Hackett's solo career continued, releasing a plethora of both electric and acoustic based and mostly pop-oriented albums throughout the 1990s: Guitar Noir (1993), Blues with a Feeling (1994), Genesis Revisited (1996), Darktown (1999). In April 1997 he released the neo-classical influenced A Midsummer Night's Dream, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the album spent several weeks in the Top 10 of the UK classical charts. In the 2000s Hackett released Sketches of Satie (2000) with John Hackett, Feedback 86 (2000), To Watch The Storms (2003), Metamorpheus (2005), Wild Orchids (2006) and Tribute (2008). In June 2009, he announced a new solo album featuring contributions of many artists, including former Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips and Chris Squire of Yes. The album, which was due for release mid October 2009 and called Out of the Tunnel's Mouth, was delayed due to legal reasons, but was eventually on sale in November 2009, and some songs were performed on the European tour. In 2011 Hackett released his 24th studio album Beyond the Shrouded Horizon and in 2012 he went on tour to promote the album in the UK. In 2012, Hackett and Chris Squire collaborated to produce the Squackett album  A Life Within a Day. Steve Hackett released Genesis Revisited II in late October 2012.

Solo career studio albums

Voyage of the Acolyte (1975)
Please Don't Touch (1978)
Spectral Mornings (1979)
Defector (1980)
Cured (1981)
Highly Strung (1982)
Bay of Kings (1983)
Till We Have Faces (1984)
Momentum (1988)
Guitar Noir (1993)
Blues With A Feeling (1994)
Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited (1996)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1997)
Darktown (1999)
Sketches of Satie (2000, with John Hackett)
Feedback 86 (2000)
To Watch the Storms (2003)
Metamorpheus (2005)
Wild Orchids (2006)
Tribute (2008)
Out of the Tunnel's Mouth (2009)
Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (2011)
Genesis Revisited II (2012)