I Once Met… Gen­e­sis

The Oldie - - CONTENTS - Richard Macphail Richard Macphail is the au­thor of ‘My Book Of Gen­e­sis’ (Wymer Pub­lish­ing)

I was the road man­ager and live sound man for Gen­e­sis in the early 1970s. I was there for our first £100 gig at New­bury, and our first trip abroad, in early 1971, to Bel­gium. We’d been pro­vided with a sec­ond van, with seats for the band, and win­dows. Mike Ruther­ford or Peter Gabriel would drive it, while the equip­ment was in the box Tran­sit, driven by me or roadie Ger­ard.

We took the ferry from Dover to Os­tend. It was win­try. Hardly any­one else was on board. It was a four-hour cross­ing and we were bored stiff. I found a box of life jack­ets, and we all got them on and posed for what has be­come a fa­mous pic­ture of Gen­e­sis, Mike drink­ing from a small bot­tle of Ma­teus Rosé, be­cause that’s what we drank in those days.

I had no idea where we were head­ing. I didn’t even have a fold­out map. I did have one ad­van­tage: I had learned a bit of French. So I’d roll down the win­dow and ask for di­rec­tions. Phil Collins was gob­s­macked. He’d never met any­one who could speak a for­eign lan­guage.

We were all as­ton­ished when it dawned on us that we could go to a for­eign coun­try and not only was the venue packed, but the fans knew ev­ery note. In Brus­sels, we weren’t far from Lux­em­bourg, where the ra­dio sta­tion broad­cast from. It fell to me, Peter and Phil to drive there in the van with all the gear, in­stead of get­ting the ferry home with the others, through a snowy night. Noth­ing had been or­gan­ised. We showed up unan­nounced. The DJ Kid Jensen was there. It was the mid­dle of the night, he was broad­cast­ing and in we went. He started the in­ter­view and he was dis­tinctly un­der­whelmed to see us.

Re­turn­ing to the freez­ing van, we headed to Brus­sels and on to Os­tend. Crawl­ing up a hill in the wind and snow, I had the il­lu­sion we weren’t mov­ing. Some­how we made it to the ferry. The others had got hold of a ra­dio on the boat and had lis­tened to Lux­em­bourg.

At the end of sum­mer 1971, Gen­e­sis were re­hears­ing new ma­te­rial at a stu­dio in West Hamp­stead. I’d get there at 9am to set ev­ery­thing up. And I’d get back at the end of the day af­ter do­ing my rounds. One day, the band said they wanted to play me some­thing. They played me The Mu­si­cal Box – I would have been the first per­son out­side the band to hear it — and I was blown away. I was just grin­ning as the five guys looked to me for my re­ac­tion. Wow, I thought. I wouldn’t change my life for all the tea in China.

Sur­vivors: (from left) Mike Ruther­ford, Peter Gabriel, Richard Macphail and Phil Collins

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