Monday 15 March 2010

Hitting the Road

Winter 1975. I was back in my dorm dreaming of how I could join Genesis on tour. The month of January was a short term at college. The one during which you could propose to the Head of the Art Department a project for credit. By now Steve and I were talking on a daily basis. This was going to continue for the next thirty two years. Even if we were apart we talked or wrote to each other every single day. I'd already shown some of my artwork to the band and they seemed impressed. Tony Smith, their manager, proposed that I could come out to California and work on some record sleeves. Perfect! There it was, my project handed to me on a plate. I worked diligently on some ideas. packed my bag and went to meet them in New Orleans. Steve was anxiously waiting for me at the airport - we were like two kids on holiday for the first time – and we had a few days there. This evocative place was the home of Anne Rice, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams, and, of course, the home of the Blues.

In those days New Orleans was full of character and characters, eccentrics in a slightly decadent French Creole way. I dropped off my bag and we headed to the famous French Quarter. All those iron-laced balconies, some with laundry drying, some with neighbours chatting and some with ladies showing off their wares! The streets smelled of spices and chilli and of course the sound of the Blues wafted around every street corner, enticing the tourist to join in.  We were floating about like two red balloons, entwined, always going together in the same direction. Those were also the days that we could still drink. Whiskey Sours were the best! I woke up the next day still amazed that here we were on tour. Phil had his family there too. Andy, his then wife, and little Joely, who was always hitching a ride on his shoulders. And Tony and Margaret Banks, more than anyone, loved to take in the sites and always made the most of observing the local colour. We joined them for brunch at Brennan’s, a must when you were in town.

Pete was on his own as Jill was only going to meet up with the tour in Los Angeles. She had just had her first baby and there had been a few complications. Mike was still single and not yet going out with Angie. I enjoyed parties and organizing them and so took on the role of after show social organizer. We would take wine and drinks from the show back to the hotel, order up some room service and everyone would congregate back at our room. Steve loved this - it was the first time that he actually started to socialize with the other members. Mike hung out a lot with us and there was a very good feeling about. Unlike other bands at the time we girls got on great. There's a lot of hanging around when you're travelling, it’s such a bonus when people get on. It wasn’t always going to be that way after Steve left. I missed the girls and all our outings together.

Steve was doing daily hand exercises with a rubber ball to keep the muscles working on his injured hand. He explained that this accident had happened a little before the Lamb tour. He had been under a lot of stress and in a moment of anger had lost control and crushed a wine glass in his hand. Pretty scary - he could easily have lost the use of that hand and never been able to play again. He’s fortunate to have a wonderful Guardian Angel by his side.

It was also at this time that, after much pleading from me, that Steve agreed to shave his moustache. He hadn’t seen his face without hair since he was sixteen! He first shaved off one side and, after that, he had no choice but to shave it all .He suddenly looked ten years younger and had a whole new look. He was pretty surprised with the result - and so was the band that night.

It’s amazing that after 32 years the question that Steve is still most asked is why he left the band. Many bloggers have been asking me to shed some light on this. I can’t say much at the moment, but I can at least set some of the record straight – it’s only fair. It was not because of Tony (Banks), as has been widely reported in the past, that Steve left. And I did keep him in the band for an extra two years when he would have left after Acolyte. This is all documented.

Day after day as we travelled across America, we sang along with Simon and Garfunkel’s “America”.

Friday 5 March 2010

The Fergus Hall Tarot

Right after we met it was clear that Steve and I had a lot in common. At this time in my life I still believed in coincidences! We were in a cab, driving through Central Park on one of those impossibly crisp, cold and clear days that make winter worthwhile, when Steve started to talk enthusiastically about his ideas for his first solo album. He talked a mile a minute about all these musical ideas and the concept album he wanted to make. He was interested in all things spiritual but his passion seemed to be the tarot. I listened and was fascinated to find out that it certainly was no coincidence why I identified so much with the band. At one point he showed me this tarot pack. I reached in my bag and showed him the same cards. Wow! There they were - the famous tarot pack that had been used in the Bond movie “To Live and Let Die”. They were painted by the artist Fergus Hall and were incredibly whimsical. I had received mine a couple of weeks before at an event for Fairport Convention.

I was staying with my cousin Danny during this week that Genesis were in town.  Steve had called me the next day to invite me for another performance they were doing. He had yet to encounter the mighty Jo Durden-Smith …! He was, after all, my mentor. Jo was definitely a bit protective. He was this great tall bear of a man, with an equally large and commanding voice. Steve called and Jo answered. Both Englishmen abroad. Steve asked to talk to me. Very mischievously Jo decided to interrogate this shy and tentative man. This is Steve, Steve of Genesis … after a longish pause Jo replied “Sooo I am Jo of the Apocalypse!” Said with a loud and booming voice. A longish pause again - and a roar of laughter. “I’ll go and get her.” By the time I came to the phone Steve was almost speechless. Unfortunately Jo died a few years ago and is much missed by all who knew him.

After those dreamy and slightly unreal days in New York the next time we would meet was in my family’s home in Petropolis, Brasil, for the Xmas holidays.

Monday 1 March 2010

Rumplemeyer's Reminiscences

I am sure that what clenched the deal was Phil Collins shouting out of the car to us “That girl’s great vibes!” That made Steve really proud, the cat who had gotten the cream. We were having a wonderful time. New York was my city and I knew it well. I was determined to convert Steve to her virtues. On his own he felt dislocated and a bit frightened there. The raw energy in Manhattan is second to none. It's been said that it sits on top of a bed of rock crystal. There's also an ancient holy Indian cemetery under the island that creates an aura of intense and mystic energy. I don’t really know where the buzz comes from but boy, it never stops!
We had so many memorable visits over the years to NYC. I lost count of the times we had lunch or dinner at our favourite, Rumplemeyer's. A child's sinful paradise, an old-fashioned ice cream parlour with colourful stained glass and the most whimsical stuffed toys everywhere! It immediately awoke the child within all of us. No-one could resist Rumplemeyer's! The best dreamy hot chocolate, mountains of syrup-covered waffles, not to mention the rainbows of ice cream sundaes. To quote a great Irishman - "the only thing I can’t resist is temptation”. Steve and I loved it there. He thought it was a haven, an antidote to the madness outside. It was located on Central Park South at the old St. Moritz Hotel. My Grandmother, Grace, used to bring me here when I visited her on college breaks and I wanted to share this magic with Steve. This was a place where the Hayley Mills character, Pollyanna, would have felt totally at home. It was full of the 50s feelgood factor. In fact Pollyanna was one of Steve’s favourite movies, he had a secret crush on her for years.

He bought me numerous stuffed animals. I especially favoured the fluffy, soft feminine cats, the epitome of girlie cuteness. Sometimes you have to let your hair down! We both love cats and over the years we'd rescued many animals ...  

To complete a perfect weekend we would make our way to The Tavern On The Green for dinner. This restaurant in Central Park was a landmark. It was the first place we'd seen that had fairy lights twinkling from all the trees - Wonderland! You could easily pretend that you were arriving for a grand occasion in one of the palaces in St. Petersburg. Just like two tourists pretending we were in a Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie, we would take a horse and buggy ride in the Park afterwards. It was delightful …

Horlicks - the Peacemaker
Many years later, I became allergic to chocolate. Rumplemeyer's famous hot chocolate became a distant memory. I was introduced by Steve to a lovely and soothing alternative, a malt drink called Horlicks. It was also a peace offering that soothed any bad feeling or a cross word. Isn’t it time for a Horlicks?

Wednesday 17 February 2010


I could hear a lot of commotion outside, but I couldn't see anything. We were still backstage, by now I was talking to Mike, and again thanking everyone for an exciting concert. We were getting ready to leave, down the narrow staircase, when a warning for everyone to go was issued. Again confusion, there was only one way down ... the stairs! I immediately thought - fire! No, it was to do with a big crowd outside waiting for the band to appear. I think they were friendly. The problem seemed to be they were blocking the door. Suddenly we started to move again, it was all very fast. Next I knew I was holding Maiza's hand and we were being ushered into a car together with the band and Margaret Banks. I could have died, what was I doing in there' We rushed off and there was dead silence in the car. There they all were.

Maiza was staring at Pete. She actually owned a parrot named Gabriel! It was all very uncomfortable. To break the ice I started talking nervously. Luckily over the past two weeks I had seen many interesting shows in the city. I think I started to talk about Mummenschanz, the Swiss visual theatre company that was and is so creative, and how extraordinary that they can communicate so much without words. A real delight! Then there was the play 'Our Lady of the Flowers' by Jean Genet which had been performed by the very avant-garde artist Lindsay Kemp. Pete was especially interested in him. Extraordinary that in 2005 Lindsay performed and choreographed a version of The Lamb. Everything comes around. There are no coincidences ...

At this point something very special happened - Pete gave Steve a flower to give to me. He too seemed very shy. That flower sealed my fate. By now the atmosphere in the car was pretty chatty.

We arrived at the Navarro Hotel in Central Park. There was a further reception there.We weren't there long when Steve approached and asked Maiza and I to dinner at Max's Kansas City, the hub of Rock & Roll. It was the home of the New York Dolls, Lou Reed, Bowie, Robert de Niro ... everybody really! We drove downtown. I thought Steve was interested in Maiza. He seemed quite nervous and talked endlessly about his mother. A little strange I thought.

We got a table immediately, which impressed Steve. The fact was the chef was a Brazilian friend of mine and as a student I ate there often for free. We all ordered steak and a salad. Steve must have been in love because later I would find out that eating lettuce leaves was the 
ultimate sacrifice he could make for someone. 
Two weeks later he was following me to Brazil for Xmas.

Thursday 11 February 2010

The Lamb in Winter

New York was so alive in `74. I found inspiration on every corner. It was an amazingly productive time. I drew and painted incessantly and lived in my head - imagination and creating new worlds was what mattered. I clashed with my teachers constantly. We were living in the era of Hyper Realism but I couldn't see the point in drawing old tennis shoes or trashcans. Nothing mattered other than that I was free.

My cousin Danny Weil lived on the Upper East Side. She'd been a model in the sixties and featured on a cover photograph of Harpers by Avedon. She was, and is, wonderful and is now a celebrated photographer herself. Her house was like a bohemian salon, where writers, painters and thinkers hung out. She'd been part of the Timothy Leary crowd. I loved being there. I was like a mascot, being a lot younger and certainly very naïve. Danny lived with an English writer named Jo Durden-Smith. He'd written the definitive book on Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, been involved with the Stones and Hendrix. Between them they knew everybody. For a teenager they were so cool. They were wonderful to me and I learned much more there than at school. They couldn't understand my fascination with Genesis but tolerated my bouts of enthusiasm, like the first time I saw the band live, at the Avery Fisher Hall. When Peter Gabriel walked on to the dark stage with the dayglo eye paint, I thought I saw an Angel. With the first few chords performed by Tony Banks on the keyboards I knew I had.

Winter in the city was wonderland. I'd just been to see Death in Venice one afternoon. It had been snowing while I was in the cinema. It was totally magical to come out and encounter a strange and beautiful stillness in the air. The next day, the 6th of December, my life was to take a completely different turn and be changed forever.

Recently, rereading all my letters and diaries, I became aware of how much I have seen and witnessed over the past 30 years. By keeping all this information I've safely preserved all my memories intact and I can now go back and relive these precious moments.

The day was full of promise. My dear friend Chuck Pulin, a brilliant photographer for Rolling Stone magazine, was going to photograph Genesis during their soundcheck at the Academy of Music. As a belated birthday present he invited me to come with him. The first person I met was Pete. He was so incredibly shy. I just wanted to thank him for all the wonderful music and inspiration they had given me and give him the famous Stagnation print. The soundcheck was late, the meeting was pleasant but I was ready to leave. I had tickets for the show. Their tour manager Regis appeared and gave Chuck some extra ones and some backstage passes. I called a very dear, and very flamboyant, friend of mine, Maiza, to go with us that evening.
You could slice the anticipation with a knife. The audience were restless and something didn't feel quite right. The lights were dimmed and The Lamb started. We were, after all, in New York, the background to this surreal saga. There were no more wings but in their place a tanned Puerto Rican named Rael. I don't think that most Americans were ready for this. It was whimsical, violent, sad, controversial ' but most of all it was new. The show ended and half of the audience were in shock, the other half in a rage because the band had not played Suppers Ready or the Knife. I was scared. People started to argue, those in shock started to applaud. There was a lot of confusion. Chuck and Maiza wanted to go backstage. I was reticent. We went. There were some steep stairs and as I finished climbing we entered a room full of people laughing and drinking. The first person I saw was this guy with his hand bandaged. I asked him how he was feeling and how he had coped with such a strenuous performance. It was Steve. He just stared at me and said I was an Angel for caring. I would always care. The arrow struck both of us. It was Love at first sight!

Lets go back to the Angels ...

Sunday 7 February 2010

It was the Seventies

It was the seventies. Max's Kansas City ... the Village Vanguard ... Studio 54 ... the famous Academy of Music ... The Factory - New York was buzzing. You could convince yourself that this was the centre of the universe, and you wouldn't be far off. I was so very fortunate to be studying at Parsons's School of Art, the centre of the fashion world. The colourful spectrum of self styled students, each one trying to be hipper than the next. As a Fine Arts student I didn't fit that category, the serious and intense type, trying to make sense of what it was all about. I seemed to find answers in the ambiguous lyrics of Genesis. In 1974 they were still a cult band in the States. Those who were in the know formed a special club, a form of elitism that I would now frown upon! Then, they provided a platform, a route to escape into a whimsical and magical world. It was my introduction to England. I loved it. All of it. The music, the arts, theatre and literature.  The Pre-Raphaelites ... Ruskin ... Richard Dadd ... Lewis Carroll ... CS Lewis's The Lion, the Witch ... Great productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream ... The Tempest - they seemed to have it all ... Elgar ... The Incredible String Band ... Fairport Convention ... Peter Cook & Dudley Moore's legendary Good Evening.

But most of all there was only one - GENESIS.  

Tuesday 2 February 2010


I want to first congratulate my favorite rock band, Genesis, for finally being recognised for their incredible contribution to music. These are wonderful guys and certainly extraordinary musicians and composers. They have been so influential in all areas of music. Their songs have been a huge source of inspiration for me all my life. My paintings were always done with their music playing in my studio. In fact that is how Steve (Hackett) and I met in 1974 on the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour.

I was a huge fan and wanted to reciprocate and give them a print that I'd done inspired by a song called Stagnation. As I recollect Peter has that print. I am also thrilled that Steve has been invited to join them in New York. He has always felt so left out since he left the band in 1977. He came to bitterly regret that decision. So I'm sure it comes as a  great comfort to be included after all these years. To coincide with this historic award I will try to tell a little of this extremely colourful story, and hope to shed some light on the past.

The first present I gave Steve when we met was a beautiful lithograph of Watcher of the Skies. An Angel!!

Steve forgot it on the plane, was that a sign?

Sunday 31 January 2010

The end of hibernation

After a long period of silence and reflection it's time to come out of creative hibernation. It’s taken the much anticipated publication of THE GLORY OF ANGELS, written by my dear friend and mentor Edward Lucie-Smith, to catapult me back to life again. It has come in the form of this magnificent book with the most exquisite classical and contemporary illustrations of the power of ANGELS in Art. Icons that transcend time, religion, mythology and history.

These powerful bridges to the unknown have been present throughout mankind’s history to help us and guide us. Throughout centuries we have sought solace in the belief of their existence and presence to assist us in difficult and unpredictable times. I would like to invite those who share my passion for angels to join in and share their experiences and information on these splendid beings of light so that we can start to develop an archive for future reference. I have a dream of starting a museum dedicated to the importance of ANGELS in ART> HISTORY> PSYCHOLOGY > and their place in our modern and turbulent world.
So I'm launching a request to start this dream by having testimonies from friends and all those who have been blessed by their own angels.

I have been in mourning for the last three years. Firstly, the departure of the most precious person in my life, my Mother. Secondly, the end of my 32 year marriage to Steve Hackett. The two most important people in my whole life. A tsunami of personal traumas ensued.

In my Blog I'll be sharing my memories, my work and experiences of the present and all my hopes and dreams of a better Future. I have so many wonderful memories of a life on the road and all the passions that that involved, all the wonderful people I met along the way. This long and personal story has been documented in books, letters, photographs, and interviews. But most of all I am now ready to share the thoughts, love and dedication that started when I was just nineteen years old.