“The fact that I cannot remember too much of it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t there. The fact that I can remember some of it doesn’t mean that I was…”
Nearly 40 years ago I was sitting in a pub in Hampstead boring my flatmate to death with my troubles – tedious job, love life in a mess blah blah blah – when the man sitting across the table leaned forward.
“Can you drive?” he asked.
“Do you know anything about rock groups?”
“Well, er… a bit”
“Do you fancy a job as a roadie?”
And there it was – that magic word “Roadie”. The ‘open sesame’ to hot babes, “wacky woodbines” and wild parties. I could handle some of that. “How much?” I asked. “£25 a week all found,” the man replied. Now £25 wasn’t a fortune but in 1973 £25 all found and all those associated hot babes was good enough for me. There was really only one question left… “Who are the band?”
I had never heard of “Genesis”. According to my flatmate they were a burgeoning “Prog Rock” band into long pretentious songs, weird costumes and tunes you couldn’t sing in the bath…and they were about to go on tour to promote their fourth and latest album “Foxtrot”.
NOTE FOR GENESIS FANS
Apparently the “Foxtrot” album takes its name from a rhythm setting on the Mellotron Mark 2 keyboard played by Tony Banks, a member of the band. A fox appears on the album cover and a fox’s head was one of earliest costumes adopted by lead singer Peter Gabriel.
So I became a ‘roadie’ with Genesis as part of their lighting crew – setting up the stage backdrop, rigging the lights, driving a lorry full of gear and operating a ‘follow spot’ during the show. It was stunningly hard work. Lots of miles, long hours, little sleep and certainly no time for hot babes, “wacky woodbines” or wild parties. The only stimulant that Genesis ran on was Earl Grey tea. In fact the first job for the road crew on arrival at any venue was to plug in the electric kettle.
My first gig with the band was on February 2nd 1973 up the M6 at the University of Lancaster. All I remember is being shouted at by the stage manager and told not to use my spotlight to check out ‘hot babes’ in the audience.
Although I wasn’t into ‘Prog Rock’ I was rather impressed by Genesis. Their performance, which followed the same set of songs each night, was unusual and dramatic – helped by a modest but effective light show, and some weird and way-out costumes worn by the lead singer Peter Gabriel.
NOTE FOR GENESIS FANS
During the “Foxtrot” tour of 1973 Genesis were Peter Gabriel (lead vocals), Tony Banks (keyboards), Mike Rutherford (bass guitar), and Steve Hackett (guitar). At the time Phil Collins was doing what he does best – playing drums at the back.
The “Foxtrot” Tour was scheduled for 16 dates in February 1973 – from Green’s Playhouse in Glasgow to the Guildhall in Plymouth. On 9th February at the Rainbow in Finsbury Park a lamp fell from a stand and sliced off the palm of my hand. Being a true ‘roadie’ I stuck it back on again with “Gaffer” tape. The scars are still visible. On 24th February 1973 the show at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester was recorded, as was the gig the following night at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester. This material became the band’s first live album, “Genesis Live”, which was released on 27th July. It was very positively received and became the band’s first top 10 hit in the UK. It remained on the charts for 10 weeks… “This is about the best LP representation of what this band could do on stage, and to the surprise of a lot of people, it actually won them lots of new fans.” BRUCE EDER
NOTE FOR GENESIS FANS
Although the photograph on the “Genesis Live” album cover shows Peter Gabriel wearing the geometric “Magog” mask which he used during the 23 minutes long “Supper’s Ready” the song was left off the album because of its length.
The “Foxtrot” tour finished up at the Civic Hall in Dunstable on 26th February and so did the road crew. All the equipment went back to where it first came from and the band disappeared for 2 months to Canada and the USA.
After it was all over the Genesis manager, Tony Stratton-Smith, invited the road crew to his office. As a way of saying thank you he gave each of us a personalised and boxed Easter Egg. Even though it was the Easter season it did seem a strange and rather paltry gift after so much hard work. One member of the crew felt so insulted that he threw his egg, box and all, into a litter bin in Old Compton Street. It wasn’t until we got home and broke open our eggs that we each discovered £25 tucked inside. We also found our names printed on the back of the “Genesis Live” album. It wasn’t the same as having our picture on the front of ‘Sergeant Pepper’ but in the annals of Prog Rock it was a small and appreciated recognition.
Years later I was reading through the lyrics of the songs on “Foxtrot” when I came across this from “Supper’s Ready” – the track left off the “Genesis Live” album
VII. AS SURE AS EGGS IS EGGS (ACHING MEN'S FEET) Can't you feel our souls ignite Shedding ever changing colours, in the darkness of the fading night, Like the river joins the ocean, as the germ in a seed grows We have finally been freed to get back home.
… and freed we had been to get back home, with aching feet and a loaded Easter Egg in our hands…which was, as we said on those days, “Far Out!”
— from Martyn Day