Inside Richard Macphail's Book Of Genesis
Former Genesis tour manager and school friend Richard Macphail has written a memoir about his time with the band – here, we present you with an exclusive extract...
Genesis were back on the road in the autumn of 1971 promoting Nursery Cryme. Apart from the ‘Six Shilling Tour’ it was still random dates here, there and everywhere, still working as hard as we could. I don’t ever remember more than a couple of days off a week and anyway, a day without a gig was never a day off for me because I was always chasing around, going to the office, picking up wages, dealing with Fred, buying tambourines and strings, getting microphones repaired. A roadie’s work is never done. I used to go to Charlie Foote’s legendary drum shop in Golden Square for Phil’s sticks. Fortunately it was around the corner from Brewer Street, where Charisma’s office was located.
Aside from my rather liberated relationship with Betsy, there wasn’t much interaction between the bands on the label, or even with other bands playing the same venues. They might have appeared next to each other in the pages of Melody Maker but they never saw each other because they were all out on the road working. Not long ago, Tony Banks appeared on a Prog Rock Awards show and the presenter asked him what he thought about other prog bands like Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd. His reply was, “We absolutely hated them. They were the competition.” (Tony’s always been incredibly honest, often to his own disadvantage.) So this idea of them all being lovey-dovey prog groups together, all supporting and admiring one another was a complete fantasy. I know Tony wouldn’t have admired Lindisfarne musically because their style was too harmonically simple for his taste, yet he couldn’t not be impressed by the way they got the audience going.
Any rivalry between the bands didn’t extend towards the road crews. There was certainly plenty of camaraderie among the roadies who worked for the bands on Charisma. We were all doing the same job, as well as we could. Van der Graaf Generator had an outrageous pair called Crackie and Nodge. Crackie ended up becoming Strat’s trusted driver. He was a largish, chronically asthmatic Welshman while Nodge, also Welsh, was a skinny little guy with a patch over one eye. They were chalk and cheese. At one of the gigs on the ‘Six Shilling Tour’ we could move the gear to and from the stage through a trap door that would have been used for special effects. Crackie, in his lovely Welsh accent, said something about how it was like being down the mines. Of course he’d never been near a coal mine in his life.