On this day in 1976, English rock band Genesis embarked on their A Trick of the Tail Tour – their first North American tour since Peter Gabriel left the band – appearing in Buffalo, New York, with Phil Collins taking over as lead singer.
Up until Gabriel’s departure, Collins had been the band’s drummer. Mid way through their previous tour for The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Gabriel announced he would be leaving the band.
He wrote a statement regarding his departure to the English press that was published in August 1975 titled “Out, Angels Out”, explaining he had become disillusioned with the music industry and wanted to spend extended time with his family.
Without their front man the band faced an uncertain future but they still wanted to make music. They wrote and rehearsed new songs during mid-1975. During this time they also listened to around 400 audition tapes for a replacement singer.
They entered Trident Studios in October with producer David Hentschel to record the album without a definitive idea of who was going to perform lead vocals. Eventually, Collins was persuaded to sing “Squonk”, and the performance was so strong, it was decided he was the best man for the job. He sang lead on the rest of album.
This then lead to a new search for a replacement drummer!
Collins was unhappy about putting away his drum sticks to sing lead, and the band were unsure he would be comfortable as frontman on tour. The group decided to try anyway, and needed someone to drum while Collins was singing. Collins insisted on selecting his replacement himself and called upon Bill Bruford. He offered the job to Bruford without even auditioning. He wanted to play with someone who he felt comfortable with and had worked with Bruford in the past. However, Collins continued to drum during instrumental sections.
A Trick of the Tail, the band’s seventh studio album was a critical and commercial success in the UK and U.S., reaching No. 3 and No. 31 respectively.
Upon release, critics were impressed by the improved sound quality and the group’s ability to survive the loss of Gabriel without sacrificing the quality of the music.
The new line-up rehearsed in Dallas for their North American tour. Collins was nervous about what to say to the audience between songs, so Rutherford and Hackett helped with some announcements. Unlike Gabriel’s theatrical approach, Collins developed a humorous rapport with the audience, and it was immediately successful. Audiences were happy for Collins to sing old material such as “Supper’s Ready” in concert as he had been recruited as frontman from within the group. The resulting tour raised Genesis’ profile in the U.S., where they had been relatively unknown while Gabriel was in the band.
Picture Credit: Philippe Roos