Genesis: Band Members, Albums & Songs

Instructor: Benjamin Olson
This lesson will chronicle the career of Genesis and their various shifts in style and membership. We will explore their most important albums and the respective roles played by their two frontmen in the band's creative evolution.

Genesis: The Story of Two Frontmen

Genesis was one of the most respected and beloved progressive rock bands of the 1970s. Progressive rock was a movement that attempted to bring the musical complexity and artistic ambition of jazz and classical music to rock. Key features included complex arrangements, timing changes, virtuosic musicianship, and refined lyrical themes. In the 1980s, Genesis became a highly successful pop band, selling millions of records. This shift in sound, style, and aesthetics can be attributed to their frontmen during these two very different eras: Peter Gabriel in the 1970s and Phil Collins in the 1980s.

Many critics and rock fans have criticized Genesis during their progressive (or prog) period, calling them pretentious and boring. Many others have criticized them during their commercially successful 1980s period for abandoning the artistic aspirations of progressive rock. Today, Genesis is perceived as one of the most challenging British bands of their generation, mercurial and creative.

Genesis: The Peter Gabriel Years

Peter Gabriel as the Moonlit Knight, 1974.
Peter Gabriel as the Moonlit Knight, 1974.

Genesis came together in the late 1960s at the venerable, independent secondary school Charterhouse in Surrey, England. The group first called themselves Garden Wall and consisted of Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, and Anthony Phillips. After meeting the record executive Jonathan King, they changed their name to Genesis and recorded the record 'From Genesis to Revelation' in 1968, featuring a still-developing sound.

After a brief hiatus that allowed the younger members to finish secondary school, Genesis reconvened in 1970 to record 'Trespass,' which featured the first inkling of their blossoming prog rock tendencies. Phil Collins joined the band on drums after the release of 'Trespass,' followed shortly thereafter by Steve Hackett on guitar. Between 1971 and 1974 Genesis released a string of ambitious, complex albums that would become benchmarks of progressive rock.

Genesis' prog period truly came into its own with 1972's 'Foxtrot', 1973's 'Selling England by the Pound,' and 1974's 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.' Peter Gabriel's voice reached the very peak of its emotive range during this period, establishing him as one of the most gifted vocalists in rock music. In addition to his gorgeous voice, Gabriel came to be known for his elaborate stage costumes and outlandish lyrical concepts. During Genesis' increasingly extravagant live shows, Gabriel would change costumes numerous times, including a fox costume and a flower costume. 'Selling England by the Pound' is now understood to be a high point for progressive rock as well as a fan favorite.

'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.' was a live album of original material based around the concept of a Puerto Rican boy in New York City embarking on a nightmare journey to save his friend, who may or may not be himself. By the time of its release, frictions within the band had become serious, with Gabriel becoming alienated from the rest of the band. After the release of 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway' Gabriel left Genesis to peruse a solo career.

Genesis: the Phil Collins Years

Genesis in 1991. From left to right, Tony Banks, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford.

After the departure of Peter Gabriel, who was both the main creative force and the public face of the band, Genesis was unsure of how to proceed. After attempting to enlist a new frontman, Genesis eventually decided that drummer Phil Collins would become the lead vocalist and frontman for the band. Although Collins' voice sounded somewhat similar to Gabriel's, this shift would prove momentous for the future of the band.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account