THE LIVING YEARS by Mike Rutherford


The First Genesis Memoir
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A genial, gentlemanly memoir about a band that has weathered plenty of upheaval without apparently suffering much strife.

Though it borrows its title from the biggest hit from Rutherford’s offshoot band, Mike and the Mechanics, the focus and justification for the book lies with its subtitle. Many readers would likely prefer a book by or about that band’s higher-profile frontmen—Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins—but founding guitarist Rutherford proves well-positioned to tell the tale, as one of only two members to remain throughout the band’s extended tenure. If you’re looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, this isn’t your book, and Genesis isn’t your band. Formed by schoolboy friends, later adding drummer Collins and guitarist Steve Hackett, Genesis had a unique musical evolution from seated musicians updating British folk to progressive conceptualists with a high-tech stage show. They were never a band of virtuosos, but they were more creatively ambitious than folky. They were also a band that valued the song rather than seeing it as a vehicle for instrumental showboating, and it was one in which most of them contributed to the material. During their popular ascent, it was thought at the time that they were dealt a devastating blow with the departure of Gabriel, yet Rutherford explains, “[t]here’s only so long you can carry on productively without shaking things up and now that he had gone we felt like a new band.” Collins took over vocals and then raised his own profile with a successful solo career (while remaining part of the band). “Our small cult audience had become a big cult audience,” writes the author, who doesn’t seem to have let any of it go to his head. Aside from the occasional marijuana mishap with the law, the author has seemingly lived a very stable life as a band mate and family man.

The death of Rutherford’s father frames the narrative, establishing a reflective tone that the memoir sustains.

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-250-06068-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2014


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