Mike Rutherford, The Living Years. Book Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Genesis could well be one of those very unique bands that splits opinion in the wider music world and in amongst their own very loyal fans, the before and after brigade. The question always being, are you a Genesis/Gabriel fan or Genesis/Phil Collins acolyte? Unless you are one of those satisfied with all areas of the bands work from the very daring and dark Genesis To Revelation to We Can’t Dance, then the question can be utterly perplexing.  

Throughout the entire time Genesis were in the public conscious stood two people, keyboard and piano player Tony Banks and guitar/bass player Mike Rutherford. The question of are you a Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel era fan should be moot, a non starter in respects, for after all without Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks the sound, the tracks and early song writing would not have been the Genesis all fans have enjoyed.

In his autobiography, The Living Years, Mike Rutherford lifts, not just a lid on some of the stories behind the great British rock band but also the relationship between the musician and his father. It is a surprising, yet utterly enjoyable memoir. One written with a certain amount of love but with that great British reserve in which the bass player acknowledges he is susceptible to. With any band that you grew up with, especially before the advent of the internet and the 24 hour need to keep the aura of mysticism firmly in the grip of the P.R. machine, you either gleaned your news of the band from the various music papers or you kept your distance; happy to revel in the music that thrilled you. To any Genesis fan who didn’t realise that Mike Rutherford, the seemingly quiet man of the Progressive Rock band that had Charterhouse at its core, took the occasional drug, took Tony Banks to task in a very violent way for refusing play an encore in the early days and his adoration of Anthony Philips and Phil Collins, it all comes with a great smile that will find its way onto your face.

All the stories though pale into significance when he writes without fear or favour about his father. A man who fought in World War Two, whose own father had a distinguished military career, who stood by his son despite not understanding the world he was inhabiting, who must have felt the huge pang of regret that he didn’t follow in the family tradition but who supported him throughout.

Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins may have been the outward face of Genesis, Steve Hackett the extraordinary musician who still keeps the flame alive, but once you finish the book you realise that Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks were the vibe, the men who defined a sound that today is still just out of this world.  An autobiography well worth delving into.                     

Ian D. Hall