In 2022 rock and blues singer Deborah Bonham told Prog how a schooldays encounter with two Genesis albums changed the direction of her life – and her brother, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, couldn’t overcome the impression Peter Gabriel’s band had left on her.
“When I was 15, I was at the convent school in Kidderminster and my friend Neville Farmer was at the boys’ school around the corner. We’d meet up at lunchtime, go for coffee, talk about music and swap albums.
I was listening to a lot of Gong – I thought I was Shakti Yoni for years – and I had Camembert Electrique and Flying Teapot in my bag. Neville gave me Selling England By The Pound and Foxtrot. I went home, put on Selling England, and from the first track I was blown away.
I loved all of Genesis as writers but particularly Peter Gabriel. On albums like The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway he created this fantasy world, but there was always some sort of message or reality about it too, and it could get quite political.
As a teenager I’d been thinking about going into performance but John said that rock and blues wasn’t a good place for girls. He wanted me to be a vet or a lawyer! For a while I went down the opera route. I think Genesis influenced that.
It’s not just the lyrics that drew me in – Carpet Crawlers always gets me, following the character as he’s trying to get down this corridor, and what’s behind that door – the music itself was so adventurous.
They had beautiful melodies that they stretched out, and their chord sequences went all over the shop. Sometimes our band, Bonham-Bullick, will go off on a tangent. That’s us channelling Genesis; exploring, going somewhere different.
I never got to see them play, nor Peter solo, yet. But I hoped he’d be at Real World when we mixed our album there. I was like, ‘I might meet him!’ as I’ve been such a fan, right up to now. He wasn’t, but our paths might yet cross.
Selling England By The Pound is one of my desert island discs. It still gets played on a Friday night, with a glass of wine in hand and the band sat around.”