When the news surfaced in late 2009 that Genesis were getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it briefly seemed like the Peter Gabriel–led lineup of the band might actually perform together for the first time in nearly 30 years. Sadly, the original Genesis frontman was deep into rehearsals with an orchestra in England for his upcoming New Blood tour and simply didn’t have the time to hop across the pond for the New York event. Phil Collins could have theoretically jumped in, but they’ve never been a group to get onstage with anything less than months of rehearsal.
It could have led to a Kiss-like situation where nobody performed, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wisely looked towards another band with a huge, passionate cult audience and an appetite for long, complex songs: Phish. “It’s impossible to overstate what a huge impact this band and their musical philosophy had on me as a young musician,” Trey Anastasio said in his induction speech. “I’m forever in their debt … Their urge to breakdown every musical barrier never diminished.”
The guys in Genesis knew virtually nothing about Phish when they learned they were honoring them at the Hall of Fame, and originally thought it was going to be former Marillion frontman Fish, but they were clearly quite flattered by Anastasio’s gushing speech, which was preceded by a remarkably faithful rendition “Watcher of the Skies.” Phish’s take on the 1972 classic kicked off the entire night, and keyboardist Page McConnell deserves much props for perfectly recreating the long mellotron intro.
Looking back at it a few years later, Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford had some regrets. “We should have played,” he said. “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.”