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Ex-Genesis Guitarist Steve Hackett Explains His Influence on Eddie Van Halen & Metal Guitarists

Updated: Sep 16, 2023


Jimmy Kay from Canada's The Metal Voice recently interviewed former Genesis guitarist and solo artist Steve Hackett


In the chat Hackett talks about his Foxtrot at Fifty & Hackett Highlights North American tour as well as his time and departure from Genesis. Plus pioneering finger taping and how he influenced Eddie Van Halen as well as metal Guitarists.


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When asked about the Foxtrot Album and Foxtrot at 50 North American Tour

"Foxtrot is a Genesis album from 1972 originally, So it's not just 50 years ago, it's 50 years plus because of Covid catch-up. We haven't taken this show to North America yet, we have played it extensively in Europe, Scandinavia and other places in the world and finally we get to take it to Canada we get to take it to America. I think it's one of Genesis Classic Albums of a certain era. 'Foxtrot' and 'Selling England by the Pound' are my two favorites of the ones I did during my time with Genesis with Peter Gabriel. I think it's a classic and the version that my band did at Brighton in the U.K. is gorgeous. It looks and sounds wonderful and it's an absolute class if you like early Genesis. I think it's a must for music that's detailed and at times complicated. The style of music is pan-genre; it ranges from sci-fi to social commentary, to humor. Most of the songs are stories; they tend not to be a Boy Meets Girl, it tends to be more complicated than that."


When asked how he is the only former Genesis member performing the Peter Gabriel Genesis Era

"I think it's an aberration that the others don't but I think the band (Genesis) became something else later on post Peter Gabriel or post MTV should we say. But I'm talking about music from an era when John Lennon gave us a name check and said he considered Genesis to be true sons of The Beatles and I'm very proud of that and it's this era that he was talking about. So you can hear that influence if you hear 'Willow Farm', in the middle of Supper Ready a great long piece you can hear the Beatles all over, let's be honest it is really the son of Walrus. It's kind of circus music in a way, it's cartoon music, it's it's parody. There's a kind of Vaudeville tradition that it's drawn from as well. It defies description really but the stuff on Foxtrot it's very wide ranging there's a lot of different styles, as I say pan genre is how I see it. It's inclusive music, there's so many styles that were being hinted at on that album. I think the original sounds good but I think the live version that I've done, you know 50 years plus later with my band I think it sounds better because we can play it better. It's more in time, it's more in tune. These guys are virtuosos. Genesis at that time were a Young Band struggling to keep up with the ideas that the entire team were able to come up with together. So you can say well that's sacrilege and shoot me down in flames but hey you know until you've heard what this sounds like in its entirety which Genesis did not do. Genesis never did Foxtrot in its entirety, some songs were considered to be too difficult or insufficiently, or not audience worthy. But now with the passing of time the fact that it's come to be regarded as a classic, stuff like Time Table and Horizons they've all found their place."


When asked about also performing his solo material on upcoming tour

"It's 40 minutes 50 minutes or an hour of solo stuff. I think it's got a lot to offer, it's a really great show if I may say so I'm very proud of it."


When asked about two-hand guitar tapping and how he influenced Eddie Van Halen

"I love Eddie's playing and he credited me with an influence that's good enough for me. It's a prototype tapping, the technique that I did and that he (Eddie Van Halen) named, that's something that I was doing from 1971 onwards. You can hear it on Nursery Crime (album), Musical box (song) you can hear it on the song 'Return of the giant hogweed' on the same album. You can hear it on Selling England by the Pound (album), the first track, 'Dancing with the moonlit Knight'. When we were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the band Phish, they were talking about the guitar solo. So the first thing that gets talked about was that guitar solo which included sweep picking, tapping and octave jumps which all of which I think you know it's all part of the glossary of terms. No heavy metal guitarist wouldn't want to be seen dead without being able to do all of those things. "


When asked about the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis live experience

"Pete (Gabriel) was, I think, extremely important, really clever and marvelous lyrical ideas. I think his sense of theatricality rivaled Alice Cooper at times, once he embraced that totally. What that means is that an audience that might have walked out during an earlier era of complicated music. When you had visuals to accompany it, that made a big difference so production values the show itself that's what really makes the difference. And so you know you hope that if you're in a band like Genesis you're going to survive the departure of your lead singer. You hope that you're going to survive the departure of or leaving the group, as I did but what survives is the quality of the music. "


When asked about his departure from Genesis

"I joined a band that was a democracy, a songwriters collective. I left the band that was becoming a dictatorship. I think that when I was told by Mike (Rutherford) and Tony (Banks) that I could no longer do solo work the hackles rose there because they also wanted to control who was writing the songs and that wasn't the basis that I joined the band. Great band (Genesis) probably the best band in the world but at the end of the day you can't keep a good Hackett it down. So you've got to be true to yourself and your Muse I think once a band starts to lose people, it lost Peter Gabriel, it lost me similar to sort of circumstances in in terms of being told that you can't have a parallel solo career blah blah blah blah blah blah and all of that. And you figure well why not because it would have strengthened the band and of course the great Poetic Justice at the end of the day was that Phil Collins solo career outpaced the band in terms of sales. So I think that's ironic justice for them but I still love the guys in the band. It's different now we're all very much older and I think that there would have been a rethink if anyone had been sensible enough frankly. Why would you want to lose the singer of the quality of Peter Gabriel, a great performer, writer, humanitarian all of that. You have to allow people room to grow. You can't run a band by thinking that you own people, you can't run it like that. You can't suppress."


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When asked if he joined Genes as a full member or a hired gun

"I was a fully fledged equal member that's what I joined, that's how I joined, on the understanding that there would be that. I joined on the understanding that there would be a Mellotron. I joined on the understanding that there would be a light show, that we would work towards these things. I joined on the understanding that we would get a synthesizer. I joined on the understanding that we would become more than a folk singing band. Now the band surpassed my intentions and desires. I felt my job was done, now I've got to see what I can do on my own.".


When asked about the roadblocks and hurdles over the years of reuniting the Gabriel led era

"The extreme competitiveness at the core of the band and I think there's always been this idea that oh well if we let these guys back in again this is going to be seen as the real band where as the real band we want it to be seen as three-man team. At one point we all had a meeting, this is right back in I think in 2005. Anyway, nearly 20 years ago we were having a meeting. If we can make Lamb Lies down on Broadway, the thing that we will all do together and can we do it as a musical? Is that possible? Can we use avatars way before the stuff with ABBA. But competitiveness that's the problem. We had this meeting in Glasgow where Phil (Collins) was doing a gig and straight away Tony (Banks) said I think that it won't work, it won't work as a musical, it's too complicated. Well if it had worked it would have changed the shape of musicals. If Queen could do it, then I think that Genesis could do it. But it's maybe too much power to Pete (Gabriel) you know because Pete very much wrote the story not the music, we all wrote the music. But the idea of relinquishing that amount of power and reflected Glory was just a little too much for the guys who were holding the name. Sadly because because I think Genesis was capable and is capable of of much."


About Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett joined Genesis at the beginning of 1971 and gained an international reputation as the guitarist in the band’s classic line-up alongside Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins. Hackett’s intricate guitar work was a key element of Genesis’ albums from Nursery Cryme (1971) to Wind And Wuthering (1977) including the classic Selling England By The Pound.


After leaving Genesis at the end of 1977, Hackett’s solo career, which now spans more than 30 albums, has demonstrated his extraordinary versatility with both electric and acoustic guitar. Hackett is renowned as both an immensely talented and innovative rock musician and a virtuoso classical guitarist and composer and this was recognised in 2010 when he was inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame. He has also worked alongside Steve Howe of YES in the supergroup GTR.



Steve Hackett’s ‘Foxtrot at Fifty + Hackett Highlights: Live in Brighton’

Filmed & recorded live on his 2022 UK tour, in the coastal city of Brighton, UK, this release documents Steve and his band celebrating the 50th anniversary of the much-loved Genesis album ‘Foxtrot’. Played in full, this album features fan favourites including ‘Watcher Of The Skies’ and ‘Supper’s Ready’. The show also features a set of Hackett solo material, including ‘The Devil’s Cathedral’ from his latest studio album ‘Surrender of Silence’, and the powerful ‘Ace of Wands’.


Watch the previously released clips below:

A Tower Struck Down

Watcher of the Skies


Mixed by Chris Lord-Alge & mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, the album is now available to order on Ltd 2CD+Blu-ray & Ltd 2CD+2DVD, both including bonus behind the scenes interviews, as well as 5.1 surround sound. A Ltd Deluxe 180g 4LP edition will also be available. Order HERE.


The full track-listing is:

1. Intro / Ace of Wands

2. The Devil’s Cathedral

3. Spectral Mornings

4. Every Day

5. A Tower Struck Down

6. Basic Instincts

7. Camino Royale

8. Shadow of the Hierophant

9. Watcher of the Skies

10. Time Table

11. Get ‘Em Out by Friday

12. Can Utility and the Coastliners

13. Horizons

14. Supper’s Ready

15. Firth of Fifth

16. Los Endos


Bob Dylan's Childhood Home in Hibbing, Minnesota USA- Covers- Jimi Hendrix, Guns N' Roses, Nazareth.


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