MIKE RUTHERFORD


... A Brief History ...

Part Two 1988-
2014
 

In 1988, following the massive commercial success of Genesis' Invisible Touch album and world tour, Mike Rutherford returned to the studio to record a follow-up album with Mike and The Mechanics, The Living Years. Like the first Mechanics album, it was more of a guise for Rutherford's solo career than a true band, with the majority of the music again written by Chris Neil, BA Robertson and Mike himself. One of the few exceptions to this was "Black and Blue" which was actually a left-over sample of a track demoed during the last Genesis studio sessions for Invisible Touch. The musicians assembled for this second Mechanics project included Paul Carrack, Paul Young, Peter Van Hooke, and Adrian Lee, all of which played a significant role in the success of the prior album and tour.
 
 
For the box set, Banks and Rutherford enlisted former members Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett to re-record a new version of the song "Carpet Crawlers" from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

While the newly revamped, Trevor Horn produced version of "Carpet Crawlers" did not end up making it to the final track listing of the first Archive box set, it did surface in October 1999 on the band's first sanctioned compilation, Turn It On Again: The Hits (despite guitarist Steve Hackett's very publicly expressed disappointment about the final mix and his minimalist guitar parts on the finished version).

A single disc collection, Turn It On Again reached the top five on the UK album chart but failed to crack the U.S. top 40 chart. The collection did, however, sell more than 500,000 copies in the U.S. earning yet another gold album for Genesis.
 
Although the album did not fare as well out of the box with the tepid commercial response to the debut single, "Nobody's Perfect" (a Paul Young sung tune that peaked at #63 on the Billboard charts), the follow up single would prove to become the biggest hit in the Mechanics' history. The song, which was penned by Mike Rutherford and BA Robertson over the recent loss of their fathers, and the regrets that they had over the way things were left at the time, struck a chord with Paul Carrack who lost his father at a young age. The end result was the title track "Living Years" which skyrocketed up the Billboard charts to #1 in the United States. Despite the level of success Mike Rutherford had achieved both with Genesis and the Mechanics, this was only his second #1 hit single following the equally successful title track from Invisible Touch.

The success of the "Living Years" single drove the album to #13 on the Billboard chart in the U.S. and eventually earned them a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year. While the third single from the album, "Seeing Is Believing" stalled at #62 on the U.S. charts, the momentum caused by the title track and the popularity of the group's prior self-titled effort fueled a very successful Mechanics world tour in 1989.
  1999 also saw the release of Mike Rutherford's sixth Mike and the Mechanics project.  The self-titled album (also known as M6) featured the return of Paul Carrack and Paul Young on vocals who, by this time, had both found a strong place in the Mechanics' songwriting collaborative process.

Sadly, despite the album being arguably the best of the band's career to date, the project was not released in North America. The band still toured extensively in Europe in support of the M6 album, including a number of sell-out concerts at larger venues, including Royal Albert Hall in London, England.

Unfortunately, the sixth Mike and the Mechanics album and tour would be eclipsed in tragedy. On July 15, 2000, shortly after the M6 tour had concluded, singer Paul Young died of a heart attack in his home in England.
As a result of Young's tragic passing, Mike Rutherford and Paul Carrack reunited shortly thereafter for a Paul Young tribute concert along with former members of Paul Young’s other noted band, Sad Café, in Young's home town of Manchester, England in front of a sold out crowd. 

On the latter part of that Living Years Tour, the band performed their cover version of The Beatles "Revolution" which surfaced months later on the soundtrack to the disastrous Cheech and Chong film Rude Awakening (the track would not be commercially available again until 2014 with the release of Mike and the Mechanics: The Singles 1985-2014 2-disc release in January 2014).

Following The Living Years album, the band released their first video anthology, A Closer Look, which featured behind-the-scenes footage and the music videos from their first two albums. The video surfaced on VHS and laserdisc, but sadly to date has not found its way to DVD.
 
  The impact of Young’s death initially led surviving Mechanics members Carrack and Rutherford to state that while the band would continue, they will not tour in support of future efforts. This decision would be one that the band would struggle with over the next few years. Eventually, Carrack and Rutherford decided that Young would have wanted them to carry on with the Mechanics without him. 
The Mechanics quickly returned to the studio to start working on a third Mechanics project. Using the same musicians augmented with some additional studio talent like Tim Renwick (who had toured with the Mechanics previously), Word of Mouth, started coming together. Despite this, the project was not without its share of difficulties and unforeseen delays. Band members Paul Young and Paul Carrack wanted more songwriting equality in the Mechanics. Both were gifted, established songsmiths in their own right and wanted more input into the creative process, which initially Rutherford struggled with. While some songwriting control was relinquished, Mike also brought in Producer Russ Titelman, which did not work out. Titelman left roughly four months into the sessions under mutual decision that his contributions were not what Mike was looking for.

To make things more complicated, sessions were delayed due to illnesses and other personal issues pushing back the completion of the project. Due to all of these unanticipated delays and the late completion of the third album, Mike Rutherford was reluctantly forced to leave the Mechanics following the recording of the Word of Mouth album to return to work on the next Genesis record. This caused serious unrest within the Mechanics, who had hoped to properly promote and tour in support of the Word of Mouth project. Ultimately, this situation resulted in the departure of keyboardist Adrian Lee and, later, drummer Peter Van Hooke. 

The Word of Mouth album failed to achieve the level of commercial success of its two predecessors, peaking at #107 on the Billboard charts in the United States. The title track, which was the debut single, shared a similar fate which was stagnant at #78 on the Billboard singles chart. Follow up singles like the catchy pop tune "Everybody Gets a Second Chance" and the soft ballad "Stop Baby" failed to chart. Whether it be because of the sudden popularity of much darker, Grunge rock music from the likes of Nirvana and Alice in Chains or the mere fact that the album never got the support it needed, in the end, the project was deemed a major disappointment on all fronts despite minor success with the title track in Europe.

 
 



In 2000, Genesis released Archive #2 1976-1992. Like the first Archive collection, this box set included rare and unreleased material. Also like the first Archive box set, its reception was brisk with only 21,031 copies sold in the United States.

On September 21st of that year, Genesis members Collins, Banks and Rutherford reunited with Daryl Stuermer at the Dorchester Hotel
in London, England for a private acoustic performance in honor of their long-time manager, Tony Smith, who was receiving the prestigious Peter Grant Award for his accomplishments in the music industry (Peter Gabriel was also in attendance, but did not perform).

After several months of recording sessions and remixing in the studio, in June 2004, the album Rewired was released in Europe and Asia (it was eventually released in North America in September 2005). This time out, Paul Carrack's name was also featured prominently in the band's name signifying the equality of Carrack's role in the Mechanics.

Despite the previous decision not to tour without the late Paul Young, Rutherford and Carrack decided to tour Europe briefly in support of the Rewired album, including a few European dates opening for Phil Collins in his First Final Farewell Tour. 

In March 2005, Live From Shepherds Bush, Mike and the Mechanics first DVD was released which captured the band on their 2004 Rewired European tour (it would eventually be released on high definition blu-ray disc in September 2013). Just over one year after the Rewired tour, Paul Carrack announced that he had formally quit Mike and the Mechanics, ending the successful 20 year on again off again partnership with Mike Rutherford. 

It had been four years since Genesis released their next studio album, 1991's We Can't Dance. The album was another record breaker for the group featuring five hit singles and eventually earning multi-platinum status, selling in excess of four million copies in the U.S. alone. Like their previous tour, the 1992 concert tour generated the highest average gross per venue of any act that year. At this point in the band's career, Genesis was a musical juggernaut and arguably had become one of the most successful acts in existence, if not music history.  

At the conclusion of the tour, the band released their fourth live album, The Way We Walk. The collection features two volumes sold individually. The first part, The Shorts, which went gold in the U.S. selling more than 500,000 copies, focused on the group's more pop-orientated songs. Believe it or not, The Shorts also marked the first time the band ever put their faces on the front of one of their albums. The second volume, The Longs, sold only 260,351 copies in the U.S., and included some of the band's more epic material (and a drum duet between Phil Collins and Chester Thompson).
  In September 2005, Genesis released their seemingly posthumous 3-CD anthology, The Platinum Collection, in North America. This new multi-disc 40-song collection spanned the band's studio efforts from 1970's Trespass through 1997's Calling All Stations. The release met with a weak response in America selling only 65,328 copies, primarily due to the fact that the European version was released almost a full year earlier in November 2004, and many copies had been imported for U.S. sales.

In late November 2005, former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett confirmed that the band was to have a private meeting in the U.K. to discuss the possibility of a Genesis reunion with the early 1970s line-up of Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and Hackett. The comments quickly circulated through out the media with everyone from Rolling Stone Magazine to CNN reporting the news.
 


In 1993, Genesis reunited to perform at a charity concert co-organized by Michael Rutherford in England. For this charity event, Genesis performed along side of the equally legendary rock group, Pink Floyd. Unbeknownst to the band or the audience, it would be the last time Phil Collins would be performing live with Genesis in front of a public audience. Shortly after the charity concert in 1993, Phil Collins informed Tony Banks and Michael Rutherford that his personal life, solo career, and other outside projects had become to difficult to manage around the band's schedule and tendered his resignation as drummer and front-man. This news would remain a well-guarded secret only shared with the closest members of the Genesis camp. Tony Banks informed Phil Collins that the band would carry on without him. Both Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford decided to take time off from Genesis to work on outside projects before potentially looking for a new lead singer and drummer for Genesis.
 

 

The news was quickly squashed by Peter Gabriel in December of that year, and Genesis' management released an official statement that there were no plans for a Genesis reunion in 2006 - however, there was no denial that talks had or were still taking place. 

Many fans had speculated that 2007, the band's 40th anniversary, seemed like an obvious time for a potential reunion.

In 1994, Mike Rutherford returned to the studio for the fourth Mike and The Mechanics album, Beggar On A Beach of Gold. With the many changes that transpired after the Word of Mouth album, Paul Carrack and Paul Young both were given a little more creative input in the making of the latest project. The Mechanics were a true band in every sense of the word now. Unfortunately, despite the minor commercial success of single "Over My Shoulder" in Europe, the album lacked any commercial recognition in North America, much like its predecessor.
 
  On November 7, 2006 in London and on March 7, 2007 in New York City, Genesis held press conferences announce an official 2007 reunion Turn It On Again Tour with members Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford accompanied by long-time touring members Chester Thompson and Daryl Stuermer, bringing back the vastly popular late '70s to early '90s line up of Genesis.


The tour included 48 shows (23 European shows and 25 North American shows), climaxed with a free concert at the Circus Maximus in Rome, Italy, in front of an estimated crowd of 500,000 people. The 48-date Genesis tour earned $129 million worldwide, making it the second highest grossing tour of 2007.
 
After a European tour in support of the Beggar album, The Mechanics returned with Hits, a collection spanning their first four studio efforts and one new track, a remake of their hit “All I Need Is A Miracle” sung by fellow Mechanic Paul Young. Atlantic Records, the band’s U.S. record company, opted not to release the compilation due to the weak album sales of Word of Mouth and Beggar On A Beach of Gold and consequently dropped the band from the label (Hits eventually saw a North American release in 2005 on the Rhino label).  

The Mechanics once again hit the road to tour in support of the Hits album in Europe. Following the Hits tour, Rutherford, Carrack and Young went their separate ways to work on outside projects. Rutherford used the time away from the Mechanics to return to Tony Banks in the hopes of identifying a new lead singer to replace Phil Collins in Genesis.
  In conjunction with the tour, in April 2007, the band released a 10-CD + DVD box set called 1976-1982, featuring newly remixed and remastered stereo and surround sound versions of the studio albums from that era along with rare video, period music videos, and new interviews with the band on each album.

In September 2007, Genesis released Turn It On Again: The Hits - Tour Edition, an expanded double disc limited edition version of the album, which surfaced at the start of the North American tour (it was released in Europe in June at the start of the European leg of the tour).

No announcement of Phil Collins' departure from Genesis was made public until March 26, 2006 when Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks announced the news for the first time.
Banks and Rutherford confirmed that the search was on to replace Collins who, like Peter Gabriel before him, left very "big shoes" to fill.

When he heard of Phil's departure, Chester Thompson contacted Mike Rutherford about permanently taking over the drummer's chair. Much to Chester's disappointment, the band opted not to add any additional permanent members of the group, splitting drumming chores between two session players, Nick D'Virgilo and Nir Zidkyahu. Rumors began to spread wildly about Phil Collins resignation and who would replace him. Fans and magazine writers speculated everyone from fellow Mechanic Paul Carrack to Fish (formerly from the progressive Genesis influenced band, Marillion) to the return of Peter Gabriel... Obviously, none of which were true.
 
  The second Genesis box in the series, 1983-1998, included comparable material from the studio albums from this period, and was released in November 2007. A third such collection is anticipated for release in September 2008 featuring the studio albums recorded between 1970-1975.

November 2007 also saw the release of Genesis' sixth live album, Live Over Europe, which featured recordings from various nights of the European leg of the tour. Live Over Europe peaked at #44 in Europe, but did not fare as well in the North American charts. This release will be accompanied by When In Rome, a video release recorded at the Circus Maximus concert in Italy. The video was recorded in high definition and was released in 2008 on DVD (despite being filmed in high definition, the video has yet to receive a high definition release).
On June 6, 1997, Banks and Rutherford officially announced that Collins would be replaced by ex-Stiltskin vocalist Ray Wilson.  Wilson had already earned success in his own right with the Stiltskin single "Inside" which had climbed to the top of the charts across Europe. 

In September 1997, Genesis released what would be their final studio album, Calling All Stations. Rutherford touted that the new album would be "darker" than that of more recent projects, leaving fans to believe that the project would be reminiscent of Genesis' sound in the 1970s. 
                                             
 

GENESIS In 1997: Rutherford, Wilson and Banks

       November 2008 saw the release of the 13-disc CD + DVD set, 1970-1975, spanning "the Peter Gabriel era" of Genesis. In 2010, for his work on the project, long-time Genesis Engineer/Producer Nick Davis received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Surround Sound. The string of archive releases continued in September 2009 with the 11-disc CD + DVD set, Live 1973-2007, and November 2009's 5-DVD set, The Movie Box, featuring the band's commercially released concert videos along with an updated version of VH-1's Behind The Music documentary on the band going up through the 2007 Genesis world tour.

     In March 2010, Genesis was inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.  While Genesis did not perform that night, it was the last time the group appeared on stage together as Genesis.
   
As it turned out, the release was not an extremely dark album, but rather slightly less commercial than what fans had come to expect in recent years. Calling All Stations met with a cold response, selling only 109,583 copies in the United States. The weak U.S. album sales later resulted in the scaling back and eventual canceling of the band's North American tour.

Genesis chose to carry on with a European tour using backing guitarist and bass player Anthony Drennon along with Calling All Stations session drummer Nir Z to support the new line-up in late 1997 and early 1998, but the response from fans was significantly less than that of their previous several tours. Shortly after the conclusion of the tour, Banks and Rutherford notified Wilson that the decision had been made not to record another studio album. Again, this decision would remain secret for some time.

On May 11, 1998, former Genesis members Steve Hackett, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, and John Silver reunited with Tony Banks and Michael Rutherford for a press conference at Heathrow Airport in England to promote the Genesis' first box set, Archive 1967-1975.  The box set was released in June of that year, and included rare and previously unreleased recordings. The collection sold a mere 35,237 copies in the United States.
  In April 2011, Mike and The Mechanics released their eighth studio album, The Road, a new collaboration featuring lead vocalists Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar. The album met with a relatively cold commercial response in Europe (it was not released in North America). Despite this, the project was followed by 2011's 'Hit The Road' Tour of Europe which received rave reviews. Following the 2011 tour, Howar and Roachford pursued other projects, leaving the door ajar to work with Mike Rutherford again in the future.


In September 2012, Genesis was honored again with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the first Progressive Music Awards in England. Members Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks were on hand to accept the honor.


In January 2014, Mike and the Mechanics will release The Singles 1985-2014, a new anthology featuring the new song "When My Feet Don't Touch The Ground." Released in Europe as a single disc hits package and as a double disc set with hits, rare tracks and b-sides, the set marks the band's second retrospective. The release will be followed with a European tour scheduled to kick off in February 2014 in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Living Years album. A deluxe, double disc remastered and expanded version of the Living Years album is also planned for 2014.

Andrew Roachford has commented that a future Mechanics studio album is likely in the works. So, the story continues. Along with Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford remains one of the most commercially successful solo artists in the world of Genesis. 

David Negrin,  
November 2013



Special thanks to Mike Rutherford, Tony Smith, Paul Carrack, WEA, Billboard, the Recording Industry Association of America, Armando Gallo, and anyone else who in some way contributed to this brief biography. This biography on Mike Rutherford is © 2013 by David Negrin. All rights reserved. 

 

Click here to read part one of the Mike Rutherford biography: 1950-1987

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