“The Genesis Story" Part Four - From Trespass to Nursery Cryme. By Peter Morton. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
After the success of Genesis’ free charity concerts at London’s Lyceum Ballroom on December 28th and 29th 1970, Genesis entered 1971 with a new guitarist in Steve Hackett. Steve’s first gig with the band was at City University in London. For a guitarist who had never performed live in front of a large number of people before, Steve was very nervous at this gig quite obviously! However at the next gig which was in Wales, the band were to perform to a much smaller audience of around twenty people and Steve felt much more at ease on stage. Although Steve had already joined the group, in an article in the 23rd January 1971 edition of Melody Maker, Mick Barnard was still being credited as the group’s lead guitarist.
During the first month of 1971, Genesis’ record company; Charisma Records had the idea of putting three of their most promising artists; Lindisfarne, Van Der Graaf Generator and Genesis all on tour together. To organise the tour, Tony Stratton- Smith fetched in one of England’s top promoters; Tony Smith. It was decided to peg the ticket price at six shillings causing a quick sell-out of ever ticket on the tour. The tour opened at London’s Lyceum Theatre on 24th January and for the next few weeks continue dup and down the country at some of the major venues in England finishing off on 13th February at Bournemouth’s Winter Gardens.
Genesis were the opening act at each show. The band had favourable reviews from the press and a good general response from the audiences. Peter Gabriel had started to include some of what would become his famous between-song stories; which were to become even more bizarre in the years to come! On days off during the tour, Genesis still found time and energy to support one or two other artists who happened to be on tour in the UK at the time.
During the following months of 1971 Genesis played a number of gigs up and down the country to promote their music to their growing number of fans. However, in the April 24th edition of Melody Maker, Chris Welch wrote an excellent piece on the band which stated: “Genesis are going to cause outrage and chaos in the coming year. Already they are breaking through with a blend of showmanship and original music that has not moved the public so much since the inauguration of the Woolwich Ferry” Chris Welch was just one of several writers who promoted Genesis well in their early years.
On the whole, the Trespass album had not been a commercial success for the group. Charisma decided to release the first official single from the album; The Knife. The track had to be split into two halves: Side One and Side Two. Like the album, the single had little effect on the record buying public and it was soon deleted.
David Stopps who had helped to promote the band had been gaining interest from a number of loyal fans in his home town of Aylesbury, so during June 1971, Genesis performed at the Friars Club there. The group got a rapturous response from the audience and it was during the final number; The Knife that Peter got so involved with the concert that he threw himself into the audience and broke his ankle. Because of this, Genesis performed only a few times over the next few weeks to allow Peter’s ankle to mend although when they did perform, Peter would be onstage either on crutches or in a wheelchair.
During their time off the road, Tony Stratton-Smith let the band rehearse at his house in Crowborough and it was while there that the band began to write and arrange music which would become the basis for their next album.
Genesis entered Trident Studios during the autumn of 1971 to begin recording their next album. The album was eventually titled Nursery Cryme and the producer was once again, was John Anthony. Paul Whitehead did the artwork and this was as ingenious as the music itself and incorporated many of the ideas from the album itself. Nursery Cryme also marked the singing debut of Phil Collins where as well as performing backing vocals, he also sang lead vocals on For Absent Friends.
Nursery Cryme was released in November 1971 but little promotion was given to the album and like its predecessor, it broke no new ground for the band. Jerry Gilbert however, gave the album an excellent review in Sounds ending his article with the following comments… “An extremely fine and absorbing album” . Keith Emerson formerly of the Nice also gave the album a good review but realising that they hadn’t progressed as far as they would have liked with Nursery Cryme, and that the two strongest tracks; Musical Box and The Fountain Of Salmacis were hangovers from the days of Anthony Phillips, Genesis decided that it was just one of those things and that they should continue developing their music in order to make the next album give them the breakthrough they were after.
With the success of the Six Bob Tour the previous January, Tony Stratton-Smith decided to repeat this winning formula by arranging a sixteen date tour of the UK during October 1971. Even though Genesis were once again the opening act, the tour was an unqualified success for them and it managed to bring their music to many more fans.
The latter part of 1971 saw Genesis promoting the new album by performing as many gigs as they could in and around London and the Home Counties. However, just as the old year was being replaced by the new, surprising news came from Europe: the Trespass album had reached number one in Belgium!