Genesis - Live April 14, 1973
Case Western Reserve University
In a small gymnasium with 350 people in downtown Cleveland Ohio, on the campus of Case Western Reserve University almost 50 years ago, was a concert lineup including It's a Beautiful Day, Genesis, and Sylvester & The Hot Band. On Saturday April 14, 1973, the relatively unknown-in-the-US British band Genesis took the stage to perform material from their most recent Foxtrot LP, as well as a few other numbers from their previous 2 LPs. Their most critically acclaimed LP Selling England by the Pound, and most ambitious LP The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway...both still well on the horizon. It is at this point we pick up the story.
Ken was working at a local radio station some 30 minutes south of Cleveland. He was also trying to get his progressive band off the ground, and wanted to interview Genesis. Did he interview them with a pad and paper, or a tape recorder? No. Was he interested in their fame or masks or lyrical meanings? Possibly.
Foremost he wanted to know about their gear and their writing process, so he could use the tips for his own band.
Akron Beacon Journal
April 13, 1973
Ken: "It's what you might call in a way "Calculated Luck". I could get us into places because I had a press pass, and it was legitimate. I was there primarily really to help promote them, but also learn. I'm a composer, "How do you go about this? What's the process? Where do you get your inspiration? Like, which comes first? Who writes what?" Now many years later, when I read their autobiography I think "Yeah, that's true" [laughs]
"Every time they came back [to Cleveland] we would see them, get to know them more and more, get ideas, see what kind of equipment they had. I would ask "How did you get that polymoog sound? What are you running through it?" Things like that. He was always very gregarious...as gregarious as Tony gets [laughs] Great guy. Wrote many beautiful things. We [my band] made some recordings and we gave him a tape of it, about 4 or 5 songs. When they came back, they were playing the [Richfield] Coliseum [in 1977] and afterwards we went to the party and I said "Did you ever listen to that tape? What did you think?" and Tony says "I think you sounded more like Yes than us [Genesis]" and I said "Really?! Thank you!" but he didn't like that [laughs] But really we're not trying to sound like anybody, we write what we like...but I took it as a compliment"
Swingos was a hotel in Cleveland, where all the famous bands would stay. From Elvis to Led Zeppelin. It's now a Comfort Inn, but in the 70s it is where Genesis stayed and where Ken would meet them. "[Tony] hated the hotel as well as Phil who in his book called it sleazy. But this was the place where all the bands went to stay." said Ken.
Peter and Ken at his studio
Ken: "Usually we would find these people [bands] before they were famous, and then it was easier to communicate. Rick Wright told me in the early days [of Pink Floyd] there were more people in the band than in the audience, so they also appreciate you because we did a lot to promote as many [bands] as we could. I really didn't need to be on stage or anything, I was more into composing. But then I went to see ELP. I went in as one person, and came out as a different person. I thought, "If those guys can do that, I gotta be able to do something." And only later did I read that Tony had a similar experience after seeing The Nice with Keith Emerson. When someone is that good, it inspires you."
Ken: "When you were there, you weren't anywhere else. You were like in another world. It wasn't overbearing...I appreciated them more and more over the years, because I could see what was behind the scenes too. "
Ken's close friend and bandmate did most of the photography. Ken took photos at first, but later realized his friend's photographs were so much better. Unfortunately, many of the photos were lost or damaged over the years. The Genesis Museum has scanned and restored as many as possible.
"We'd go up to Pittsburg or Detroit or Columbus, by the time they got here [Cleveland] my friend sort of knew what they were going to do, he knew the setlist, so he would preplan the shots as much as you could. He took some amazing photos, really amazing ones. But he never used any of it."
April 1973 - Foxtrot Tour
Ken: "I had been waiting for a year...year and a half, because I used to run a radio station at and what would happen is, they would send the radio station all these albums that weren't released yet, as promotion....I remember listening to theirs and went, "Oh, these guys will be famous!" This is very unique, they had a different sound. So I kind of kept my eye on it. I pushed as much as I could on the radio, but nobody knew who they were." in the US anyway.
Talking to Ken, he certainly has a "radio voice".
Ken: "I was on air. I did mostly the news, but I also had a talk show. And then occasionally I would sub in for a thing called Fresh Air. They had a whole library for the radio station at that time, and anything that would come into the radio station as a promo, I'd grab it, look it over and play it."
Phil Collins & Ken at Soundcheck - Cleveland 1973
"I could get us in, because I was with the radio station. So what I would do is I would go in and do an interview for the radio station...but we're also musicians, I'm a keyboard player. So, I liked the way Tony played. He kinda sounded like me in a way, and I appreciated it. I would get there in the afternoon, around 1 o'clock, and they [Genesis] didn't have any money. So they were setting up, and trying to do a soundcheck. So we said "We'll go out and get you lunch". We went to McDonalds and got a bunch of stuff, brought it back to them, which they appreciated. My friend took a couple of photographs of Phil and I."
Filming the show
Ken: "I had this camera that I had brought because I was doing a film class. So happened to have rented this camera...and I thought, "Oh I gotta bring this!" So I brought it...literally there were no chairs or anything, we were sitting on the floor, in the front row...about 4 feet away. So I took a number of photos there."
"It was a very interesting day because they were very jovial, you know, good guys. So we were sitting in the front, and then the blue lights come on. And he comes out...Watcher of the Skies. And I think "Woah!" And I love the Mellotron too...and then I end up buying one. I didn't buy it from Robert Fripp like Tony did, I bought it from Eric Carmen [laughs]
"And then afterwards, everybody leaves...of course, but us. And this would be a pattern that we would follow for years and years and years, even when they were playing stadiums. The only two people that would be there would be myself and my friend. Afterward we did an interview, primarily with Peter, and then Phil came out and sat down with us. We had a great conversation about things and took some photos. It was a quite enjoyable day [laughs]."
TGM: "So when you did the interview, was it for print or did you record it for the station?"
Ken: "No, I didn't have any recording equipment with me. Primarily, we always wanted to know "Who are these guys?" It sounded mysterious and different. And then following things in magazines at that time you would think "What are they really about?"
"They were just brand new here [in the US] and they were trying to build up a following. And it just so happened at the time, Cleveland being Cleveland, it was a place where a lot of bands broke thru and so they could come back often, and they grew a following here. But it was difficult for them because they didn't have a hit song."
April 1974 - Selling England by the Pound Tour
"And then when they came back, they had just recorded Selling England by the Pound. So again, we got there early in the afternoon. We had a way of getting in. They remembered us. We were there for the setup, soundcheck, then we'd go back to the hotel. They were complaining because they couldn't find a certain brand of tea. So I asked them "What kind of tea?" It was something like Constant Comment. I said "Not to worry guys, I know where to get it." So we brought them a big box of it, and they were very happy."
"So I ended up in the room with Peter, and he was putting on his makeup. We had to walk from Swingos to the Allen theatre, it wasn't far but there was a big crowd out in front of it. Peter says "Oh I can't go in there!" so I said "I know a back way, not to worry....of course we will be killed" [laughs] because it's a back alley in Cleveland. Once Peter stopped freaking out I said, "Well, it's kind of safe...we'll walk fast" So I got him in there, and I was up front for that show too. Got some photos from that as well."
"And then after the concert, we would meet up back at the hotel. They had a big party for the band at some meeting room in the hotel [Swingos]. We get on the elevator, there is a lady in there who is about 6 months pregnant, which turns out to be Peter's wife. She said "He hates these things" [parties] "Can you get him somewhere?" At the time we had our own recording studio not far from there, so I said "Yeah, we can!" So we drove him to our studio, and what we had done is, it was my partner's idea to take different parts of all their [Genesis] song titles, and interweave it into a song. So Peter came down, and we played it for him. [laughs] and he gave us a standing ovation."
"Peter was eyeing my piano and asks "Can I play it?" So I said "Sure!" So Peter played it for about 15 to 20 minutes, and I had been recording the studio at the time. I played it back after decades thinking, "I wonder if there was something, anything that became a song", but alas no. He was just doodling and happy to play."
"We got into a serious discussion about Supper's Ready, which I've got recorded too. But discussing the band at the time. I think we were 23 maybe 24. My friend said to Peter "It was amazing that you were able to make it!" Peter said no, they had only made a record. In actuality, they were in debt.
"We were intrigued as well by Supper's Ready. He told us this story that he and his wife were staying the night in a castle and it had a cemetery next to it and there was a thunderstorm, and the idea came to him about writing this piece...he kind of broke it [Supper's Ready] down for us piece by piece, section by section. The inspiration was more of a feeling or metaphor and images. So you have Supper's Ready, which is this big drama, but the way Peter explains it, because of how he is when he's not on stage, it's not very dramatic [laughs]"
"So we took a lot of photos there [in the studio] and he signed our wall. Very good guy, but what really amazed me more than anything else...he's one person on stage and he's another person off stage. It's not what I expected. On stage its power and drama, but off stage he's kinda quiet and laid back...you might even say shy about things. You know...very quiet, very accommodating. Great guy...but not anything like you think he would be if you saw him on stage. I've met a lot of people that are in the top prog English bands, and I was trying to think if there was anybody else like that, but no."
November 1974 - The Lamb Tour
"I read the notes in the Genesis boxed set, looking for ideas for my own Anthology, there was a piece written by Tony that starts out with "One night in Cleveland", and I thought "Are you kidding me?" I remember that day, Peter was told by his doctor that he wasn't allowed to say a word to anybody, wasn't allowed to talk. Because he had to save his voice. Phil came down to our studio. He played a little on my band's drum kit...then we played a piece for him that we had written, it was very unusual. He said "It's very different, I like it" We were thinking, was there anything he could do, because we wanted to start promoting our band. But then we find out that whoever their manager was, had not kept receipts for anything, so they owed like a half a million dollars in back taxes. But the thing about Phil, he never seemed that concerned about money, he never let it bother him."
"After the show we came back to meet them at the hotel. So, I snapped this picture of Peter coming out of the elevator...and I didn't know [at the time] that he'd quit. So we go downstairs, Phil says we'll meet you down in the restaurant [Swingos] so we're waiting in the lobby, and we see a silhouette, a figure walk through with a big hat and scarf, long coat...he didn't take some of his makeup off even. We tried to get his attention, but he just walked off into the night. Then Phil comes down carrying a bottle of tequila [laughs] At that time it was a pretty highly rated restaurant so I said "you can't bring that in here", but Phil said "What's the difference?! They'll never know. I'll put it under the table." I never saw Phil particularly drink that much, but that night..."
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour was an amazing theatrical show, many fans wondered why there was never a concert film. Ken said, "I couldn't believe it, I asked them, I said "Please tell me that you videotaped it." [The Lamb show] but they said "no." I asked them why, they said it cost like 10 grand a night just to put the show on, which in those days was a whole lot of money" No telling if what it would have cost to film it properly. Since they were already in debt, it was likely they would not have had the funds.
April 1976 - A Trick of the Tail Tour
Ken: "They came back with A Trick of the Tail with [Bill] Bruford, who we had met years before when he was with [King] Crimson. I had done an interview with him in '73 when they played in Kent. On the Trick of the Tail tour, I interviewed Tony, we would be there for soundcheck"
Ken met the band whenever they returned to Cleveland. Wind and Wuthering, And Then There Were Three, and well into the 1980s including Phil's solo tours and Mike's Mechanics tours. Ken welcomed Genesis to Cleveland at a time when few in the US knew who they were. And in turn, Ken felt welcomed by Genesis even when they hit it big.
Ken: "They became kind of friends and my partner [drummer/bandmate] used to call Phil on occasion and would always get Christmas cards and such. Peter gave me his parents address...which I still have."
Phil and Ken's friend/drummer/photographer
The Genesis Museum and Thomas Manchon (Ikhnaton) have been archiving Ken's materials as well as his stories. There is an immense amount of material, some of which has been lost, some which has been damaged by water or faded. We will be restoring and sharing what we can as things are found. Ken has been very helpful but is also quite busy, so we will be updating this page as more material or information is uncovered.
(c)2021 The Genesis Museum and Thomas Manchon