Ex-Genesis guitarist Speaks Up on How He Was Treated While Making Landmark Album, Recalls Why Peter Gabriel Left

You’ll hardly ever find a band that changed so many styles while achieving major mainstream success. But Genesis certainly managed to do that, going from psychedelic-infused folk rock to progressive rock, and then mainstream pop that still had its prog elements in there. While Phil Collins, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford are who we remember Genesis for, there have been plenty of great musicians in the lineup. Including Steve Hackett, an incredible guitar player and songwriter who marked the band’s progressive era.

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Official Audio)

But when there are changes, there are also tensions and problems. Be it pressure from labels or just creative disagreements, things can get heated up, causing members to leave. For Genesis, the main priority was always releasing great music, everything else – including lineups and a musician’s individual preferences – came second. In the end, that’s why Peter Gabriel left after touring in support of “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.”

This concept album was, for many, the pinnacle of their prog era, along with its predecessor “Selling England by the Pound.” Released in 1974, it also marks some of Steve Hackett’s most important guitar works and creative inputs. But as Hackett reveals in a recent interview over at DrumTalkTVChannel, tensions between Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks over the record’s creative process were off the charts. Recalling this process, Hackett offered (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“There were the set pieces that Pete brought in, and the pieces that Tony had [brought in] had some keyboard parts that sounded like complete songs in themselves. And so, you had very detailed keyboard stuff, but then you had very detailed vocal stuff. So I think they were often at loggerheads with each other and just sang and played across each other.”

“And the rest of us were trying to, you know, hang on to the coattails really, fitting around that. So I think it was Pete’s last album with Genesis. He wanted to do other stuff, he was heading towards a solo career, so I think he was maybe less concerned with pleasing the band – and I totally respected that he wanted to please himself with his own material. He wanted to write the entire story, write all the lyrics; up to then, we shared it with everybody. So, you know, there were certain conditions that weren’t being met.”

“And there was also the improvised stuff. There were other tunes that we all brought in. And so it was a group effort, but you have some very strong individuals in Genesis at that time. So the sparks are flying, believe me, a lot of the time, but that’s just the nature of guys being good at what they do.”

Nonetheless, Hackett adds that these are “happy memories” although the album “had its challenges.” The guitarist explains:

“There were lots of things going on in people’s lives at that time. We were growing up, there were kids, it was all going on around us. It’s different for young guys in their 20s; we were heading towards our mid-20s at that point, so these other pressures started to happen, and Pete certainly had his at that time. But I love Pete, of course, his extraordinary ideas.”

“And I am often thinking wistfully about the best of what the guys were capable of. We didn’t complement each other that much [back] in the day, but every now and again, someone will surprise us and say something [like], ‘Oh, I really liked what you played on that, what an interesting little gem that one was.’ I’m sorry I didn’t respond to it much at the time. But, you know, there’s a lot that’s left unsaid, and we’ve got eternity to ponder that.”

Photo: Mikemertes (Steve Hackett at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona), Jeff Wurstner (Steve Hackett 18 Dec 1974 Buffalo, New York)