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See Mike Rutherford’s Career From Genesis to the Mechanics in 13 Videos

Guitarist tells tales behind five decades of clips

Mike Rutherford performs with Mike and the Mechanics

Mike Rutherford performs with Mike and the Mechanics at the Avo Session in Basel, Switzerland on November 8th, 2011.

Georgios Kefalas/Corbis

In late February, Mike and the Mechanics will kick off their first North American tour since 1989. The group has changed a lot since then and only guitarist Mike Rutherford remains. (He'll be joined by singers Tim Howard and Andrew Roachford, who are replacing Paul Carrack and the late Paul Young.) The group plans to play Mechanics hits like "Silent Running" and "All I Need Is a Miracle" with a handful of Genesis tunes like "I Can't Dance" and "Turn It on Again." We sat down with Rutherford to look back at videos from his long career, an he unleashed five decades' worth of amazing stories.


Genesis – “Illegal Alien,” 1983

There are many, many Genesis songs that fans all around the world love. And then there's "Illegal Alien," recorded at a time when it was okay for three British guys to dress up like Mexicans desperately trying to get across the border. "We were having a bit of fun," says Rutherford. "You can't take it seriously. Phil is really the star. Tony and I are basically just props. Tony and I were always fine when we got to wear costumes. We shot this back-to-back with the 'Mama' video on the same set."


Genesis – “Tonight Tonight Tonight” at Wembley, 1987

Genesis reached their commercial peak in 1986 with Invisible Touch, which pumped out hit singles months on end. The tour took them to stadiums, wrapping up with a four-night stand at Wembley. "England had four days of glorious sunshine," says Rutherford. "That's rare. This was the peak of our commercial success. We could do no wrong, really."


Mike and the Mechanics – “The Living Years” 1988

After the fiasco of Acting Very Strange, Rutherford realized he needed to recruit quality vocalists to sing his tunes. He wound up with Paul Carrack and Paul Young, and in 1985 they had huge hits with "All I Need Is a Miracle" and "Silent Running." Three years later they did it again with "The Living Years," which was inspired by the death of songwriter B.A. Robertson's father as well as the loss of Rutherford's own father. "My son Tom plays the little boy in this video," says the guitarist. "He's now 33 and living in New York. My dad died the previous year, so this was all very emotional. I do think the choir in this video should have been a greater mix of people. That was a mistake."


Genesis – “Congo,” 1997

When Phil Collins quit Genesis in 1996, Rutherford and Tony Banks couldn't quite justify breaking up the band. Their last album and tour were huge successes, and they effortlessly bounced back from the departure of their first frontman. This time around, they weren't so lucky. Scottish singer Ray Wilson did a very nice job, but replacing Collins was a tall order and bands like Genesis weren't exactly the coolest of the cool in 1997. Ticket sales were so low in America that they called that leg of the tour off, but they did bring the show around Europe. Here's a live performance of their single "Congo" from the ill-fated tour. 

"I enjoyed the process of making Calling All Stations," says Rutherford. "What happened was that, suddenly, the mood changed and I sort of felt that going forward to create a new Genesis required too much work. I just didn't have it in me, and I had the Mechanics. I know that Tony and Ray wanted to carry on, but I just knew I couldn't do it."


Mike Rutherford, Roger Waters and Eric Clapton – “Wish You Were Here,” 2006

In May 2006, Rutherford was part of a stunning band at the Highclere Rocks charity show in England. He shared the stage with Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Paul Carrack and many others on a chilly afternoon. "We do a show like this most every year," says Rutherford. "Eric [Clapton] is always there and Roger Waters often plays. Back in the 1970s I didn't pay much attention to Pink Floyd, but I got to know them later. I know 'Wish You Were Here' really well know because I later played it with Ed Sheeran and Nick Mason at the Olympics."


Genesis – “Carpet Crawlers,” 2007

The Phil Collins-led lineup of Genesis reunited in 2007 for a 40-date tour of Europe and North America, playing to ecstatic, sold-out crowds wherever they went. Every show ended with a tender rendition of 1974's "Carpet Crawlers." Here's video of them doing it at a huge outdoor show in Rome. "It's nice how a song so simple can work," says Rutherford. "We played so many stadiums and arenas that they've become a blur, but a place like this really stands out for us. We've been popular in Italy for so many years that it was a great way to end our European tour."


Phish – “Watcher of the Skies,” 2010

Genesis' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 seemed like the perfect place for the Peter Gabriel-led lineup to finally reunite, but the timing was absolutely horrible. Gabriel was deep into rehearsals for an orchestral tour and simply couldn't get out of England. Phish played in their place, breaking out a pretty spectacular rendition of "Watcher of the Skies." "We should have played," says Rutherford. "We just couldn't get it together. I didn't know much about Phish before this and it was weird watching someone else play this song, but they did a really nice job."


Mike and the Mechanics – “The Road,” 2012

Rutherford has bad luck with singers whose name begin with P. Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and Paul Carrack have all quit hit-making groups where he played guitar, and Paul Young passed away in 2000. Undeterred, Rutherford assembled a new lineup of Mike and the Mechanics and hit the road in 2012. Here's a live performance of "The Road." "This is one of the first songs we wrote together," says Rutherford. "We were just finding out way with this first album, so I think we're going to get even better, especially now that we've done a lot more touring."