“In The Living Years” - Mike Rutherford’s autobiography reviewed by Alan Hewitt.
It has been a long time, hasn’t it but at last a member of Genesis has put fingers to PC and written his own memoirs.
The fact that it is Mike Rutherford makes this all the more fascinating. Mike’s role has always been perceived as that of anchorman and peacemaker to some extent among the more volatile members past (and present) of the band.
As autobiographies go, this one is remarkably free of controversy and embarrassing moments but such as these are, the subject of the embarrassment is invariably Mike himself and it is his honesty which shines through the pages of this delightful but far too short book.
As someone who has recently lost their own father, I admire the fact that Mike has laid bare his emotions with regard to the loss of his father back in 1986 when Genesis were at the height of their powers and by combining his own story with extracts from his father’s as-yet unpublished ones, you gradually begin to realise that Mike and his father were not dissimilar in so many ways.
For fans of Genesis and Mike’s other band: Mike + The Mechanics, there are some gems of information but sadly these are too few to really whet the appetite which is a shame. There are also some glaring errors which cannot all be attributed to Mike’s notoriously poor memory for dates etc. Where we do get a genuinely amusing incident such as the one Mike relates in which he was beaten up by Hells Angels for less than politely telling them to “cease and desist” their behaviour at an early Genesis gig (Leicester Polytechnic 23rd February 1972 for your information, Mike) we are given a tantalising glimpse behind the scenes of a hard working band and what they had to put up with!
However, there is a greater story to tell here and Mike’s evident reticence means that a great deal of the band’s story and his part in it are effectively glossed over with Steve’s departure barely mentioned, the situation at the time of the Calling All Stations album/tour similarly barely mentioned etc and the book effectively comes to an end in 2007 which means there is no real detail behind the Turn It On Again tour and the recent reformation of The Mechanics. Even Mike’s contribution to the 2012 Olympics does not merit a mention! There is little or no attempt to explain the development of the band or its music throughout its history which is something fans - at whom such a project is squarely aimed - would relish.
All of which makes for a very frustrating book all round. I thoroughly enjoyed it such as it was but the end result is rather like having a starter and no main course, leaving you hungry for more - maybe a second, more detailed volume sometime soon please, Mike?