The day I started singing with Genesis changed my life. I remember exactly how it happened even though it was nearly 40 years ago.
When we were writing our album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway in 1974, Peter Gabriel, our lead singer, was offered the opportunity to collaborate on some screenplay ideas. We had an American tour booked and Peter decided he was going to leave at the end of it.
We didn’t know what to do about replacing him; we just knew that we wanted to carry on. So we started auditioning to find someone. We saw people who could sing, but no one who we felt we wanted in the family.
So we went into the studio to record the title song for our album A Trick Of The Tail with one guy we thought might do the job but it just didn’t work, the poor bloke wasn’t in key.
When he left the studio I asked if I could have a go. Everyone was a little sceptical but we started recording and we just knocked one song off after another. But as far as I was concerned, I was still the drummer.
When the album was finished we looked back over our singers wondering if any of them might cut it on tour. In the end it was my first wife Andrea who said, ‘Why don’t you do it, Phil?’
She’d been at drama school with me and I’d always sung in my school band from behind the drums so she knew I could do it. I then suggested that if we got a decent drummer so I wasn’t looking over my shoulder the whole time I’d give it a go.
Coincidentally I’d been rehearsing with Bill Bruford, who played with Yes, and I told him the situation and he said, ‘I’m not doing anything. I’ll do it for a while and get you on your feet.’ Bill’s a great drummer so he did the first tour with us.
I remember the first concert I sang at in Ontario in 1976. I went on stage and felt very lonely without my drum kit. Suddenly I was out front with just a microphone. It took me years to take the microphone off the stand! But we did the first song and the audience were fantastic.
My life would have gone in a totally different direction if I’d stayed as the drummer. I wouldn’t have done my solo albums and written songs like In The Air Tonight. It just proves you never know what if?
© Daily Mail, by Rachel Corcoran
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