Steve Hackett: ‘I didn’t want this book to be all sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll’

Prog rock guitarist Steve Hackett is releasing his memoirs and will tour next year. Martin Hutchinson spoke to him.

Steve Hackett. Picture: Rick Pauline

EX-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett was lined up to have a very busy year until the coronavirus struck, with tours and the publication of his autobiography.

But with gigs on hold at the moment he is spending time at home, and is keeping his hand in by performing acoustic versions of some of his songs and posting them on social media.

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“It was my wife’s idea,” he says. “Jo said to me, ‘How do you feel about sitting down and playing some music?’

“The thing is, most of my stuff is either at the studio or on the road, so I just had a couple of instruments to play with. But it is keeping me busy and I also practise a lot, keeping my fingers nice and leathery.”

The tour is titled Genesis Revisited – Seconds Out + More!. Seventy-year-old Hackett’s plan is to perform all of Genesis’ 1977 live album Seconds Out as well as choice songs from his solo output.

Explaining how it came about, he says:“I had the idea of playing the Genesis album Selling England By The Pound and my solo album Spectral Mornings and we did 150 shows with that last year.

“With the days in-between shows, much of the year was spent on the road.”

Steve Hackett with Mike Rutherford on Genesis' Wind & Wuthering tour in 1977. Picture: Armando Gallo

The tour went down well, it seems. “It packed people in. We went to Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the States. So then I thought it would be nice to do a ‘Best of Genesis’.

“Seconds Out cherry picked the best of the band at that point. Tracks like Carpet Crawlers, Firth of Fifth which have become crowd favourites, and instead of the shorter versions that I do as part of my shows, I can now do the full versions.”

And Hackett intends to play Seconds Out exactly as fans first heard it 43 years ago. “It worked well then, so we will probably do it I the same order – it all depends on the rehearsals.”

Hackett also picked out some of his personal highlights. “Firth Of Fifth has a famous solo, and there’s Dance On The Volcano and Los Endos with its drum solo, and Squonk. Phil [Collins] sounded great on the album and it has more power live.”

Steve Hackett and band on his Genesis Revisited tour.

There’s even the possibility of Hackett playing some new songs. “I’m hoping to record and premiere new things,” he reveals.

If the tour goes ahead as planned, the timings almost coincide with Genesis’ own tour, is there the possibility of Hackett joining his former bandmates Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks onstage at any of the shows?

“Probably not,” he says. “My tour was booked three months before theirs and because I’ve got my own commitments it would be difficult, so I’d have to say that it’s unlikely.”

Before the tour, there is Hackett’s autobiography, A Genesis In My Bed, being published. “It’s out in July, and it covers all of my life,” he says. “I started it years ago but never really knuckled down to it as I was building up my solo career. But I’m now at the point where the solo career has an audience and I felt secure enough to take the time out to do it. It’s been a real labour of love.”

How did he put it all together?

“Once I had done a chronology, I worked on the anecdotes. I didn’t want it to be all sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll so I’ve talked about travel, spirituality and philosophy as well. I’ve tried to make it humorous and revealing, and above all honest. I’m praiseworthy about my one-time colleagues.”

The book covers all of Hackett’s life thus far. “It goes back all the way to the early 50s. There’s description of the décor; things were pretty bleak for young couples like my parents.”

Will there be any more books?

“As this one brings the story right up to date, there’s no ‘Volume Two’ at the moment, but funnily enough my wife Jo and I enjoyed the process and we have been discussing things. I might do one which could be more anecdotal.”

Ever optimistic, Steve is looking forward to getting back out on the road. “We’ve got to keep our spirits up, and things will get back to some sort of normality. But we can’t afford to put profits over people.”

A Genesis In My Bed is out on July 24. His Genesis Revisited tour is currently scheduled for St George’s Concert Hall, Bradford on October 1, 2021 and Harrogate Royal Hall on October 22, 2021.