I Once Met… Genesis
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