| Books |

Mike Rutherford's Living Years in Genesis Had Many Revelations

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

The Living Years: The First Genesis Memoir By Mike Rutherford Thomas Dunne Books, 256 pp., $25.99.

While best known as the guitarist (and sometimes bassist/guitarist) for prog rockers-turned-pop-sensations Genesis, Rutherford takes the title of his autobiography from the 1988 hit of his offshoot group, Mike + the Mechanics.

Guaranteed to make grown men weep, the song and its familiar chorus is about the often stiff emotional relationship between fathers and sons (which, it seems, transcends national borders), and the importance of actually expressing love "before it's too late."

REWIND: In the Beginning There Was Genesis, and It Was Good

It's fitting. For while the book of course covers Rutherford's life growing up and his decades with Genesis, there are also excerpts from his father's own unpublished memoir, discovered after the often distant, career British navy man passed away. His picture is visible in the video for the song, as is Mike Rutherford's own son as they visit a cemetery to the sound of Mechanics vocalist Paul Carrack's soaring voice.

And while Capt. William Rutherford may have not quite "gotten" his long-haired son's choice of career -- when he first sees Genesis live, the button-downed sailor is greeted with the site of Peter Gabriel crawling through a 30-ft. inflatable penis onstage -- he was nonetheless proud of the success it afforded his son and his family.

Rutherford tells plenty of great stories of the early years of Genesis, from the early stirrings of the band while several members attended the English boarding school Charterhouse and the first U.S. gig in the cafeteria of Brandeis Univeristy in 1972, to the growing album sales and more elaborate concert tours.

Observations of his bandmates are of great interest. Tony Banks is prickly, sometimes jealous, and the first to disappear at the sign of any trouble. Peter Gabriel a interesting seeker whose favoring of bizarre masks and costumes on stage to allowed him to dissolve into character. Steve Hackett is private and aloof, but an incredible guitar player.

And Phil Collins, a good-time guy with (at least early on) a seemingly bottomless stomach for booze who nonetheless lived for music and to play, and was as meticulous with his personal life as he was with band business and artifacts. When Collins' solo career takes off to stratospheric heights, Rutherford is happy for his friend, but knows it spells some trouble for the band as a unit; forming Mike + the Mechanics proves a more than worthy offshoot, though.

REWIND: Phil Collins' No Jacket Required Is Still a Masterpiece

Story continues on the next page.

Oddly, the bulk of the book takes readers just up to the band's greatest commercial success in the mid/late '80s, and then doesn't delve into too much. In terms of pages, the ensuing times speed through more rapidly than perhaps necessary.

Thus, you'll read more about albums and the band's circumstances around albums like Selling England By the Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway than Invisible Touch and We Can't Dance. This should more than please those who prefer the "Peter Gabriel Years" to the "Phil Collins Years."

The Living Years certainly could have benefited from a heftier page length and more details on the actual making of the music. But -- until Pete or Phil come out with their own books -- it's a boon for Genesis fans, right on the heels of the career-spanning documentary Sum of the Parts.

Like what you read? Or are we missing something? We'd love for you to join our team.


The Ask Willie D Archives 25 Ways to Know You Spend Too Much Time in Montrose Houston's 10 Coolest Bar Names 10 More Houston Acts You Should Be Listening To Houston's Top 10 Hip-Hop Clubs

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.