Interviewed in a new Genesis biography, Genesis 1975 - 2021: The Phil Collins Years, to be published on July 15, the band’s former guitarist says that, following the release of 1976’s Wind & Wuthering album, he increasingly felt that there was no longer space for him as a creative force within the unit, as keyboard player Tony Banks began to emerge as the group’s dominant songwriter, backed up by bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford.
“I don’t think group’s members should be competitive with each other, you should try to bring out the best in everyone,” says Hackett, talking to writer/biographer Mario Giammetti. “If I work on a solo album for someone else, whoever they are, I do what they want. If Tchaikovsky asks me to do a guitar solo, well, he’s the boss… But in a group it shouldn’t be like that. But one person always wants to be the Führer.”
“I was starting to write more and more material and it was harder and harder to incorporate that into a band format,” Hackett says. “Plus, I wanted to work with other people. Brilliant though the members of Genesis were, I felt I had to take the risk in order to find out just how good I was on my own. There’s a voice that tells you that you’ve got to see whether you’re up to scratch or not.”
Buoyed by the success of his well-received debut solo album, 1975’s Voyage Of The Acolyte, Hackett feels he was gaining confidence as a songwriter, but, in his opinion, his bandmates were becoming increasingly reluctant to accept his ideas. In addition, he says that concerns were voiced about his commitment to the band.
“Tony said I couldn’t do more solo albums and be a member of Genesis,” he says bluntly. “Tony was assuming leadership at that point and Mike was backing him up, so there was no guarantee of a proportion of the songwriting being divided up equally. Tony said: ‘If you don’t like it, you know what you can do’.”
“I was providing a lot of material for the band at this point, but in terms of writing credits I wasn’t really getting what I thought I should,” Hackett adds. “I had already managed to get a hit album on my own, so I needed to be respected as a writer, and I don’t think I was getting that from Mike and Tony. I think their agenda was always to run the band. Pete [Gabriel], who had been an enormously important part of the band, had always wanted a democracy, as had [early Genesis guitarist] Anthony Phillips. Democracy in bands is a great ideal, but rarely works in practice because to achieve it you need to recognise everyone as being equally talented as yourself, and I think that’s difficult for certain people to take on board.”
“Forty years ago I had something to prove,” says Hackett, “and I still do.”
You can read more about the fall-out from Steve Hackett’s exit from Genesis in the new issue of Classic Rock magazine, which is running an extract from Mario Giammetti’s biography.