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”.