The Hippo


Jun 17, 2019








Steve Hackett. Courtesy photo.

Steve Hackett: Genesis Extended

When:  Sunday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. 
Where: Capitol Center for the Arts, 40 S. Main St., Concord
Tickets: $45-$65 at

Prog pioneer
Rock Hall of Famer brings Genesis Revisited to Concord

By Michael Witthaus

Steve Hackett spent seven years as lead guitarist of Genesis, a period many fans consider the most important in the band’s history. Beginning with 1971’s Nursery Cryme, Hackett played with the art rock lineup led by Peter Gabriel, and the more pop-leaning unit that emerged in 1976 after Gabriel’s departure. He’s currently touring Genesis Extended, playing selections from his time in the group.

Hackett made Voyage of the Acolyte in the midst of the transition, with assistance from Genesis mates Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford. The solo effort both hinted at the band’s new sound with Collins as lead vocalist and tore at its fabric, a situation that ended with Hackett’s departure in 1977. Genesis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.
In a phone interview from his home in London, Hackett, who’s coming to the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord on Sunday, Nov. 16, discussed the Genesis legacy, his influence as a guitarist on Eddie Van Halen, and why he believes a new BBC documentary does a poor job of telling his story.
On why the music of Genesis endured all these years: You had five guys all writing together and learning from each other, but more importantly … so many of the songs were stories. I feel we were creating soundtracks to imaginary films, for the ear rather than the eye. It is storytelling that has its parallel in classical music, [but] it was such a pan-genre approach; we were borrowing from everywhere.
Why it’s unlikely the 1970s-era band will ever reunite: I think that Genesis won’t reconvene as a band unless we can have some No. 1 success somewhere. That, unfortunately, turns it over to the level of sport, the idea of winners and losers. I think that music is the joy of exploring all of the various things that come under that umbrella. I’ve got my own approach to it — music is its own reward. So I’m noncompetitive. If people like what I do, great; if they don’t I don’t mind it. Sometimes I’ll be doing a rock album and other times a blues album and I made forays into classical stuff. Once, I recorded six pieces of Bach … there is a choice that comes to you. I know what I’d rather be.  
On playing Genesis with progressive rock heroes and Phil Collins’ son Simon: I played on [Simon Collins] album … Sound of Contact. He returned the favor, so we’ve done it on each other’s records. On the last Cruise to the Edge [he] sang “Supper’s Ready” and I joined him onstage for his show. That same night we had John Wetton and Chris Squire together on stage for the first time, and Simon, of course. It was a marvelous meeting place. We were literally all at sea, going port to port.  It worked out tremendously well; I felt very at home doing that. 
What he knows about his influence on Eddie Van Halen: I have never actually spoken with Eddie. He cites me as an influence, which is very nice. The guitar is a marvelously adaptable instrument. I was trying to make it sound like a keyboard when I was doing it, using a technique that he named as tapping, but I didn’t call it that. I think I was the first to do it. … You can play very, very fast and it’s a very useful tool to have in the box. It’s another rabbit to bring out of the hat; obviously, Eddie is a very fine player.  
Acrimony in the band caused by his solo record: I had a gold album, and I think the success of it didn’t go down well. ... You’d think it would not be possible for someone to play on the album and then criticize me for not giving everything to the band down the line, but that is in fact what happened. I think what happened is that Mike and Tony [Banks, Genesis founding member and keyboardist] rounded on me for this. Although Mike was happy to do it at the time, the two of them were mighty pissed off that the thing became a hit, frankly. So, hey, shoot me.  It was a hit, and I was quite happy.
Complaints about the BBC documentary Genesis: Sum of the Parts
I was shafted. I wasn’t happy with that. I was the sacrificial lamb in that one. Ray didn’t get a mention [Wilson, lead vocalist on 1997’s Collins-less album Calling All Stations]. There is a little bit of Soviet-style historical rewriting going on there, like Phil never left. It’s not entirely comprehensive; there is an agenda at work, I feel. I did not have editorial input; I was refused editorial input, as Mike and Tony had editorial input. You can draw your own conclusion on that. I have a lot of support; I’ve had thousands of fans that have been up in arms about this, either writing to me personally or the press. It’s been surprising, believe me. 
As seen in the November 13, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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