To Genesis fans, Jonathan King is best known as the man who "discovered" the band, gave them their original elongated name, and produced their debut album, the then self-titled, From Genesis To Revelation.  

Whether revered by some fans for being a visionary producer and mentor or jeered by others for being seen as someone who has capitalized on his brief stint with the band, Genesis fans are passionate about King's role in the group's incredible history.  

On April 29, 2005, in his first formal interview since being released from prison in March, World of's own Dave Negrin talked with King about his tenure with Genesis, some of his other past projects, and what lies ahead for the legendary producer.

  JK: I wasn’t that impressed until “Follow You Follow Me,” which was fabulous and brought me back into the fan base.

WOG: I had heard that you commented in a prior interview that you had, in some way, influenced The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album. Can you explain?

JK: That was simply because I’d bought an old drummer boy type jacket in
Portobello Road with shiny buttons and red tunic and wore it for a laugh in one of the clubs and John Lennon was there, and loved it… I still own it! [John] asked where I’d bought it and then, months later… BINGO! The Sgt. Pepper look was born!
World Of Genesis: What are your earliest recollections of the boys who would be Genesis?

Jonathan King: I remember the boy who gave me the tape, although I can’t remember his name or anything
about him. He told me it was the school group, and they didn’t have a name. I listened [to the tape] in the car going home and really liked the sound of the lead singer (Peter Gab
riel). When I spoke to them, and met them, my first impression was of Peter’s extreme shyness. And, I couldn’t remember them from my time there. Then again, we tended not to mix with or notice boys younger or older than our year.

WOG: It’s now well documented that the guys in Genesis have had more than their share of artistic disagreements in the studio over the years. Were those disagreements apparent even during the recording of the first Genesis album?

JK: Oh yes. Tony Banks always wanted to do long solos which I used to trim or cut! Anthony Phillips was more volatile and outspoken. Peter remained very quiet and shy, but when he spoke it made sense.

WOG: At that point, was any one member, or members, of the band the apparent "leader" of the group or was the band more democratic?

JK: It always seemed pretty democratic. Though Peter was quiet, he was always listened to. We worked as a team… I was one of the band. It was intentional that I used Tom Allom, now a top producer (known for his work with Judas Priest), who was then a young engineer but also an old Carthusian… I wanted the Charterhouse connection to continue. We all understood each other having lived through a similar five years.
  WOG: After leaving Genesis behind, what other projects did you work on? Did you ever resume your own solo career?

JK: I ran DECCA. My experience with From Genesis To Revelation had shown me they REALLY needed help and I made lots of other records… Indeed, I had many more solo hits, like “Una Paloma Blanca;” started my own l
abel, UK Records, with acts like 10cc and Rocky Horror Show; I did TV work such as Entertainment USA; and I invented the name The Brits and presented the show in 1987 - At which, The Best Male Singer Award was won by… Peter Gabriel!

WOG: Did you ever attempt to rekindle your working relationship with Genesis again after they signed with Charisma in
Europe ?

JK: No.

WOG: It’s been said by Peter G
abriel, among others, that they attempted to write the "Silent Sun" in the vein of the Bee Gees to keep your interest. Were there any creative aspects of the album that they would not compromise on with you as their producer?

JK: Actually, it was more
Crosby, Stills and Nash that influenced their acoustic sound, but my real motive was to encourage them not to depend on electric equipment since they could not afford really good stuff, and the volume concealed the mistakes. By making them go acoustic, I made sure they heard their errors and corrected them.

WOG:  If you could go back in time and redo that first album with the band, what would you do differently?

WOG: With the release of the first Genesis Archive box set, fans finally heard the From Genesis To Revelation album without the addition of the string arrangements. In retrospect, do you still prefer the album version with the strings? Are any songs that you are especially proud to have been involved with on that album or any songs that you feel were below par?
  JK: Nothing; it’s exactly as I wanted it. I would just have liked DECCA to have promoted and exposed it properly. I had to do that myself, and I wasn’t very good at it then - I became far better later!

WOG: Now that you are released, are you working on any new projects at the present time, or do you have anything in the works for the near future?

JK: Yes, loads of new and future projects, but sadly must keep them secret at present.
JK: I like it with all the strings and links between the tracks. It was at a time when "concept" albums had not really been invented, so it was one of the first. I think the added sweetness, and professionalism, makes it truly unusual and covers up any amateurism. 

I still believe it was, and remains, a hugely underappreciated album; one of the ground breaking ones of the decade. I just relistened to it… One of the prison officers had an uncle who sent it in to be signed and enclosed a note saying it was his favorite album of all time! I think it sounds superb… really different from anything else around, bursting with youth, energy and latent creativity.

WOG: Were you at all involved with the Archive box set chronicling the band’s early years? If so, to what extent were you involved?

JK: No not at all. In fact, they should not have included those early non-string tracks. I think there’s a better and more accurate collection to be compiled.

WOG: Many incarnations of the first album have surfaced over the years under various names, track listings and album covers. Do you own the rights to that album and, if so, do you ever have any reservations
out the licensing the album again and again for die-hard fans to repurchase?

JK: Yes, my company does own the rights, and we only license it when there’s a demand for it. Sadly, since I took no over-ride royalty for discovering or naming or nurturing them, we make nothing from the subsequent Genesis years or product. That’s fine by me, though it flies against industry wisdom and morality. 

My position was, and remains… If I’d broken them, I’d have deserved on-going payment, but since I didn’t manage to, the future depended on their own endeavors. But we do try to make as much from the few tracks we
own as we can. 

My greatest reward is knowing for certain, as I do with many other acts and artistes, that without Jonathan King being alive and involved, Genesis would not exist, and the guys would have had careers as intended - as accountants and lawyers! I well remember the meeting with their parents, when I persuaded them that the band had a future in this erratic world of
: What, if anything,
out the musical direction of the guys who played on that first album has surprised you over the past 35 years or so?

JK: I’m delighted they have been successful… always knew Peter would do so, but
Mike’s career has been a pleasant surprise. Likewise, the emergence of Phil Collins… Who, obviously, I only met after their success. They were always decent kids and seem to have grown into decent elderly gentlemen!

WOG: According to an e-mail I received from a fellow fan, Tony Banks has stated he was frustrated because you didn't let him use organ on
that first record. If that is true, why were you against it?

JK: Excuse me… I’ve never stopped anyone from using their organ! No, the answer
was already discussed… I restricted self indulgence even though, at the time, they wrongly felt it was artistic and creative. These days, more experienced and skilled, I’d totally allow him the full rein.

WOG: Did you write the Blue Swede hit single “Hooked On A Feeling?” If not, what was your involvement with the song?
JK: I didn’t write “Hooked,” but it was totally my arrangement, copied note for note… with permission, since by then my version had peaked.

I felt theirs added nothing to my original. I’d have liked to have made some money out of my "ooga chagga" concept, but that’s life and copyright laws. You can’t copyright an arrangement!

WOG: With the past behind you, are you at all concerned that your recent legal situation will impede your
to work within the industry as a producer or recording artist?

WOG: When was the last time you talked to any of the guys in Genesis, and what, if anything, is your relationship with them at this point? Is there any ill will over the fact that they do not own that first record?

JK: I’ve spoken every now and then over the years, and I don’t think either party has any reservations… They remain grateful to me for my early input as exemplified by Peter’s opening remarks at his recent Man of the Year Award dinner. I think of them with totally positive and affectionate feelings.

WOG: Has Genesis ever attempted to buy it back?

JK: No, they have never asked to buy From Genesis To Revelation back.


I still believe it was, and remains, a hugely underappreciated album; one of the ground breaking ones of the decade.

WOG: In recent years, newer versions of the From Genesis To Revelation CD have included bonus tracks that were not available on the LP reissues from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Were those extra tracks, like "The Image Blown Out" and "Patricia," lost and then rediscovered years later? Are there any more tracks in your possession that have not been officially released from that period of time?

JK: I’m not at all sure
about these. My company that signed them was the publishing company. They may have been early demos, but I’ll have to check these out.

WOG: Genesis is currently remixing their catalog in 5.1 surround sound using the original multi-track master tapes. It has been said that they do not have the multi-track tapes for the first album. Do you have them? If so, would you ever loan the original multi-track masters to the band so that a surround sound reissue could be licensed and see the light of day?

  JK: No, my profile has leaped over recent years, so has my life experience, and I look forward to the next 30 years being even more rewarding and satisfying than the previous 60!

WOG: If you were to write an autobiography, what would you call it?

JK: I have and keep changing the title. It was going to be King and I, but someone else got there with that!


My greatest reward is knowing for certain, as I
do with many other acts and artistes, that without Jonathan King being alive and involved, Genesis would not exist, and the guys would have had careers as intended - as accountants and lawyers! 


Genesis' debut album! This is the 2005 2-CD, 26-track European pressing with a 13-track version of the album with a bonus 13-track second disc of demos and b-sides. Includes "One Eyed Hound", "The Silent Sun", "That's Me", "The Image Blown Out" and much more!

: I fear they no longer exist. If they did, I’d be happy for that.

WOG: At what point did you start to lose interest in the band, and what were your thoughts at the time?

JK: I’ve always liked finding, starting, developing, encouraging and breaking new talent. After that I find it a bore. People start whining
about trivial problems, and it starts to become a machine… "We have a problem with the lighting rig in
Milan"… That’s why, when they decided they wanted to continue as a professional outfit, I handed them onto someone I could trust, Tony Stratton Smith… though I had to persuade him to take them on!

WOG: Anthony Phillips mentioned that the longer songs the band was starting to write at the time kind of bewildered you a bit, because you were trying to develop them as more of a pop singles band. Is that a fair assessment?

JK: Yes, they did have a tendency for self indulgence, and their ambitions were inferior to their very young talent at the time. There’s nothing worse than a
16 year old guitarist who thinks he’s [Jimi] Hendrix. So, I trimmed and cut and tried to keep the basic essentials whilst losing the dross.

WOG: What were some of the songs that they had been working on before you left? Had they written anything to your knowledge that later surfaced on albums like Trespass or Nursery Cryme?

JK: No, I don’t think so… I’m afraid I really lost interest except for their personal well being and went off to other projects.

WOG: What did you think when you first heard Genesis next few albums, like Trespass, Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot?


Japanese only 21-track mini LP style CD! Out of print and getting hard to find! Includes "One Eyed Hound", "The Silent Sun", "That's Me", "Patricia" and much more!


Out of print 24-track anthology with 10 tracks by King's former group plus his entire Or Then Again solo album with two bonus tracks! Hard to find!


12-track anthology including King's "Ooga Chagga" influenced version of "Hooked On A Feeling."
\Special thanks to Jonathan King and Giovanni di Stefano for granting this interview. This interview © 2005-2007 David Negrin and may not be used in whole or in part without permission. All rights reserved. For more on Jonathan King, please visit his official site.

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