The Genesis Story - Part Nine: A Trick of The Tail. By Peter Morton. Photographs by Alan Perry. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
In May 1975 after 102 live performances of The Lamb…plus eight years with Genesis, Peter Gabriel left the band which he had helped make into one of the UK’s top performing acts to spend more time with his wife and new born baby and to consider his future.
During August Gabriel sent a press statement to all the major music papers on his decision to leave Genesis. Part of it stated: “The vehicle we had built up as a co-op to serve our song writing became our master and had cooped us up inside the success we wanted. It affected the attitude and spirit of the whole band.. To get an idea through ‘Genesis the big’ meant shifting a lot more concrete than before. Much of my psyche’s ambition as ‘Gabriel archetypal rock star’ has been fulfilled. My future within music, if it still exists, will be in as many situations as possible. There is no animosity between myself and the band or management. The decision had been made some time ago and we have talked about our new direction. The reason why my leaving was not announced earlier was because I had been asked to delay until they had found a replacement to plug up the hole. It is not impossible that some of them might work with me on other projects…”
Gabriel’s departure from Genesis was surrounded by controversy: why did he leave? Was he pushed out by the other members of the band? Was all the popularity becoming too much for him? The questions by the fans and the media during the summer of 1975 were many but the answers were all made clear on December 6th when the headline of Britain’s biggest selling music paper: Melody Maker ran… “Gabriel tells All…”
While Peter’s departure from Genesis was hot on the tongues of both the fans and the media; Steve Hackett was busy in the studio putting the finishing touches to his first solo LP: Voyage Of The Acolyte. This became a surprising success for Steve, achieving silver LP status for sales. Phil Collins meanwhile spent some time with Jazz-Fusion outfit, Brand X and Tony and Mike took a well-earned break.
By August 1975 the remaining four members of the band having decided to continue without Peter, got back together in the studio and began working on new song ideas; ideas that would become part of Genesis’ next LP: A Trick Of The Tail. The melodies to Squonk, Dance On A Volcano were soon written in demo form and the band soon realised that there was still something strong creatively that they had to offer. Meanwhile, the music papers were constantly announcing Peter’s departure and writing eulogies for the death of the band. Genesis, however, knew differently and the critics were soon to be proven wrong as A Trick Of The Tail upon its release in February 1976, sold more copies in Europe and America than any preceding Genesis album.
With Peter gone, the remaining members of the band knew the hard task they had in front of them in finding a replacement singer and front man. While the group were auditioning for a new singer, Phil was already recording the vocals to many of the songs on A Trick Of The Tail. So, after fifty or so unsuccessful auditions, Phil became the obvious choice to sing. Initially the idea was that he would only sing a couple of songs for the new LP, one of which being Ripples, but once he began putting the vocals down to the first: Squonk, which in itself was a very difficult track to sing, it became obvious to all concerned that Phil was the right man to take over from where Peter Gabriel had left off.
During the autumn of 1975 the final touches to the demos of A Trick of The Tail were finally put in place. Phil took over on lead vocals as well as drumming. One song omitted from the LP which was written at this time was Beloved Summer, this emerged in 1977 under its new title of It’s Yourself, on the B side of Your Own Special Way (Italians were lucky enough to hear this track a year earlier than this as it was released as the B side to Ripples). Other singles released were: in France, Entangled/A Trick Of The Tail and in the USA: Ripples/Entangled.
To coincide with the new LP’s release in the UK, Charisma released the title track of the new album on 7” single with the B side Ripples and a promotional video for this was filmed during March 1976.
For Phil to sing and play drums during the mixing of the album was fine, but to go out on the road and do both at the same time would prove rather difficult. So another drummer was required, his name was: Bill Bruford. Phil felt comfortable playing drums on stage with Bill as he was someone whom he had admired for a long time.
Genesis, with their new drummer, spent the first couple of weeks in March 1976 rehearsing in Dallas for the upcoming tour. The band and Bill soon gelled together and they were ready for their first concert with Phil as the lead singer in London Ontario Canada in late March 1976. Phil was obviously nervous at the show but after the second number he realised that his communication with the audience was fine and any nerves he had had initially were put to one side. The rest is history.
The tour proved to be a success wherever they played. It took the band across America and into Europe arriving in England in June 1976 to perform five sell-out shows at the Hammersmith Odeon. The songs performed during this tour were usually as follows: Dance On A Volcano/The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway/Fly On A Windshield/Carpet Crawlers/Robbery, Assault & Battery/Cinema Show/White Mountain/Firth of Fifth/Supper’s Ready/Entangled/Squonk/I Know What I Like/Los Endos/It-Watcher of The Skies.
The concerts at Bingley Hall Stafford and the Apollo Theatre in Glasgow were filmed for a cinematic release. A rather disappointing film technique was used in which a number of songs were inter spliced with old silent movie footage. The problem here is that Genesis live and silent films don’t really work together and so, although it is great to see the band captured live on this tour, the finished result is rather poor. The film went on general release in 1976 as a double bill with the film White Rock, the film of the seventh winter Olympiad. Recent information has it that Channel 4 TV here in the UK bought it a couple of years ago for screening but haven’t done so thus far.
Throughout the tour, the band escaped many of the electrical problems that they had experienced on previous tours except that is for the show at the Loreley Festival on 3rd July when halfway through the set one of the security towers went on fire and the show had to be stopped for half an hour while the fire was extinguished (Editor’s note: according to Steve Hackett, the fire had been caused by disgruntled drug dealers who had had their operation at the event busted) By the time the tour finished in July 1976 it was obvious to everyone that this was the most successful tour by the band and proved that Genesis could continue without Peter and gain many new fans as well as keeping the majority of the old.