When Genesis decided to chronicle their triumphant 1992 We Can't Dance tour with a live recording, the group needed to release it in two volumes, The Way We Walk: The Shorts, and The Way We Walk: The Longs, to spotlight their later pop classics and also the lengthier progressive pieces that defined the group's early sound. One of the most successful acts of the 70s, 80s and 90s, Genesis also launched the superstar solo careers of Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel.
Genesis was formed in January 1967 at upper crust Charterhouse Public School, England, as a combination of leading members of the local school band and the fledgling (and very local) rock band The Anon. Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (bass) teamed up with Peter Gabriel (flute, vocals), Anthony Phillips (guitar) and Chris Stewart (drums). In early 1968 they signed to Decca, which agreed to finance the group's first album, From Genesis to Revelation (1969), despite a few early unsuccessful singles. By this time, Chris Stewart had been replaced on drums by John Silver, who in turn gave way to John Mayhew.
Still searching for mainstream success, in 1970 the band began to work on what was to become the first real Genesis album, Trespass. After having replaced Phillips and Mayhew with ex-child actor and Flaming Youth drummer Phil Collins, and ex-Quiet World guitarist Steve Hackett, the classic Genesis line-up was in place and the band went on their now legendary 1971 tour, which featured a new level of rock theatricality.
Nursery Cryme, Genesis' third album, was released in November 1971, but it wasn't until Foxtrot (1972) that Genesis scored their first major critical success. A highly ambitious album musically as well as lyrically, the collection included the 22 minute "Supper's Ready." Selling England by the Pound is long regarded as an early masterpiece and also ensured their presence Stateside for the first time. In 1974, Genesis released the concept double album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - a somewhat tragic story about a New York street hustler character called Rael.
In May 1975 Peter Gabriel announced his departure from the group and almost exactly two years later, guitarist Steve Hackett also left to embark upon a solo career, leaving the line-up - Phil Collins, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford - that remained for the next two decades.
The trio soon moved from their progressive rock origins towards a more light rock sound of the type that would dominate the worldwide charts in the 1980s. In 1978, they received their first gold disc for the appropriately titled And Then There Were Three, and later enjoyed a chart-topping album with Duke, and a Top Ten hit with Abacab. Helped by Collins' high profile as a soloist, they enjoyed their biggest UK singles hit with "Mama" and followed with "That's All" and "Illegal Alien". In America, they scored a number 1 single in 1986 with "Invisible Touch," while the next four singles all made the US Top 5.
By the mid-80s, Collins was a popular solo artist and Rutherford formed the hit act Mike and the Mechanics. In 1991, the trio got back together for We Can't Dance, another instant smash. Collins decided that his solo career and relocation to Switzerland had put too much pressure on attempts to maintain his role in the band and he officially resigned. Rutherford kept the band going with singer Ray Wilson (of Stiltskin), who recorded on 1997's Calling All Stations. Banks and Rutherford decided to call it quits not long after, ending one of rock's most multi-dimensional ensembles ever.