Reviews Zone

My Book Of Genesis: Richard Macphail with Chris Charlesworth (Argyll & Bute Publishing) 20th November 2017


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)



Peter Gabriel writes the foreword here. Genesis fans will love this. But it’s a pretty decent read as a rock and roll, anecdotal journal even if that band and their output didn’t ever float you boat. I have bought one Genesis album in my life, but I enjoyed this very much.

Richard was a Chaterhouse school friend of both Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips, in a band with them called Anon. He got to know and be mates with Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks, and they joined forces with Rutherford and Phillips to form what was the nucleus of Genesis.

Richard left Charterhouse in 1996 for a public school in Somerset. He kept in touch with his old chums by letter and meeting up in the summer holidays. In the summer of 1968, Richard went to Israel where he on a kibbutz for six months.. He heard “A Winter’s Tale”, Genesis’ second single, on the radio, was amazed that these were his former band mates coming out of the speakers. Genesis had gone professional by then.

Richard returned to England and his keenness to be with his friends again, turned into a passion for the music Genesis made, so he wanted to help the band without being involved in the actual music making. He became their aide-de-camp, tour manager and best mate for five years, and is described as “the glue that held the band together”. Rutherford writes on the back cover of the book, “I think we would have killed each other without Rich.”

Richard has written the book with Chris Charlesworth, a former Melody Maker scribe, and it is a lovely AAA (Access All Areas) snapshot of those five years with his mates, who became one of the  biggest bands in the World. There’s a real love and affection for the guys and their music within these pages.

Peter Gabriel’s two-and-a-quarter-page Foreword, includes mention of the first Genesis live album in 1973, and its dedication to: “Richard Macphail, who has left us”. Many assumed this mystery man must have pegged it, and began to ask who this little known “sixth member” of the band was.

Richard didn’t ever see himself as a part of Genesis, but his mates disagreed. Their “Foxtrot” album, credits Richard as a member, and his picture appears on the foldout cover with Tony, Steve, Phil, Mike and Peter. He was on the cover of the “Watcher Of The Skies” single, with the others.

Peter Gabriel goes on to say that Richard contributed to the band in almost every other way possible, aside from the song writing which he was not part of. “He was the band’s official chameleon, tour manager, cheerleader, driver, agent, roadie, chef, procurer, repairman, general hustler and counsellor. Always helping to smooth over all the predictable ‘creative differences’ between clashing testosterone-packed young egos…..”

Richard is given much praise by Gabriel, who says he was “our unsung hero”. Peter Gabriel turned to Richard after leaving Genesis to go solo and asked him to be his tour manager, for another two years of travelling adventures.

When Genesis’ lighting engineer was taken ill in 1974, Richard stepped in and handled the band’s stage lighting for a month-long North American tour. Richard stayed in touch with the band, and so when Genesis set out on their first tour following Gabriel’s exit from the band, Richard became their road manager for the European dates in the summer of 1976 – his final days working with them.

Richard was there when the band auditioned Phil Collins and when Steve Hackett replaced Anthony Philips. Gabriel. He blagged a van for the band from his Dad when their old black cab packed up. He commandeered his parent’s cottage for rehearsals.

There are contributions from all the members of Genesis, and the final chapters describe his ongoing relationship with Peter, Mike, Tony, Phil and Steve; a friendship that has endured for more than 50 years.

The 234 pages are illustrated by 30 photographs. There is, as you would expect, a starry cast list of names who pop up in mentions or more in depth coverage in the pages. It is an affectionate and fascinating insight into the band’s early years and their roots. Richard is now 67-years-old and went on to become a successful businessman in the environmental field.


By Simon Redley 




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