Mike Rutherford

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Mike Rutherford
Mike Rutherford.jpg
Rutherford playing with Genesis in 2007
Background information
Birth nameMichael John Cloete Crawford Rutherford
Born (1950-10-02) 2 October 1950 (age 70)
Chertsey, Surrey, England [1]
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • singer
Years active1967–present
Associated acts

Michael John Cloete Crawford Rutherford (born 2 October 1950) is an English guitarist, bassist, songwriter, and singer who co-founded the rock band Genesis in 1967. Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks are the group's two continuous members. [2]


Initially serving as Genesis's bass guitarist and backing vocalist, Rutherford also performed most of the band's rhythm guitar parts—frequently on twelve-string guitar—in collaboration with successive Genesis lead guitarists Anthony Phillips and Steve Hackett. Following Hackett's departure from Genesis in 1977, Rutherford assumed the additional role of lead guitarist on the band's studio albums (beginning with ...And Then There Were Three... in 1978). Rutherford was one of the main Genesis songwriters throughout their career and wrote the lyrics for some of the band's biggest international hits, such as "Follow You Follow Me", "Turn It On Again", "Land of Confusion" and "Throwing It All Away". [3] He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010.

In addition to his work with Genesis, Rutherford released two solo albums in the early 1980s. In 1985, he formed Mike and the Mechanics, which became a chart-topping act and significant live draw in its own right. The group earned Rutherford an Ivor Novello Award for the 1988 single "The Living Years", [4] as well as two Grammys.

Early life

Michael John Cloete Crawford Rutherford was born on 2 October 1950 in Chertsey, Surrey. [1] His father, William Rutherford, [5] was a Royal Navy Captain who became a manager in industry upon his retirement from the service and married his mother Anne. [1] He has an elder sister, Nicolette. [1]

Rutherford received his first guitar at the age of 8, and played in his first band, The Chesters, named because by then they lived near Chester, in the following year. [6] He attended The Leas, a preparatory school in Hoylake, Merseyside before he moved to Charterhouse, a private school in Godalming, Surrey in September 1964. He co-formed the school band Anon with guitarist Anthony Phillips in 1965, after which they split and formed Genesis in 1967 with fellow Charterhouse pupils, keyboardist Tony Banks, vocalist Peter Gabriel, and Chris Stewart. Rutherford disliked his time at Charterhouse, and was expelled for instances of minor misconduct. [6]

Playing style

Rutherford's playing style has been shaped by his unorthodox performance requirements within Genesis, which from a fairly early date required frequent shifts between instruments (or shifts of role between instruments). Though his work with bass and guitar has been praised by some critics, he has described his playing as average and said that he considers himself a songwriter first and foremost. [6]

Rutherford's bass guitar playing initially involved the use of a pick and a high-treble setting. He would also sometimes employ a relatively harsh, horn-like distortion setting to differentiate the instrument's tone from the rest of the ensemble. In the mid-1970s he would begin to play fretless bass guitar on Genesis songs (in particular on ballads) and would experiment with 8-string bass guitar.

Rutherford's rhythm guitar playing was initially characterised by his use of electric and acoustic 12-string guitars. A distinctive sound of early Genesis recordings was Rutherford's double acoustic 12-string playing intertwined with that of Anthony Phillips or, later, Steve Hackett (keyboard player Tony Banks would occasionally also play 12-string guitar parts to make up a duo or trio). As a rhythm guitar player and writer, Rutherford has favoured melodic, minimalist chords or progressions of single notes, as in Genesis songs "Follow You Follow Me", "Turn It On Again" and "Invisible Touch", or the Mike and the Mechanics song "The Living Years".

Rutherford assumed lead guitar duties for Genesis in 1977. Previously he had made occasional lead guitar contributions to Genesis music if they were best played by him (such as the electric sitar parts on Selling England by the Pound), but following the departure of Hackett and the band's decision not to replace him with a new guitarist, despite toying with auditioning new guitarists or using a studio guitarist on ...And Then There Were Three... , Rutherford assumed all guitarist roles in the recording studio, having felt confident enough to double up on lead guitar as well as bass. [7] As a lead player he has favoured long, melodic tones, bending the notes into plaintive, almost vocal lines. This results in "singable" solos or the creation of sonic atmospheres rather than showy displays of technical prowess. Post-Hackett, he has also diversified his rhythm guitar approach beyond his initial twelve-string-based approach.

From an early date, Rutherford also played bass pedals both live and in the studio, often playing simultaneous twelve-string guitar and bass pedal parts in order to cover rhythm and bass parts at the same time. Initially using a Dewtron "Mister Bassman" bass pedal synthesiser, he had moved onto Moog Taurus bass pedals by the 1976 Trick of the Tail Tour. Frequently Rutherford's bass guitar, 12-string guitar, and bass pedal playing have featured in different sections of a single Genesis song, "Supper's Ready", "Firth of Fifth" and "The Cinema Show" being good examples of this. Sometimes Rutherford's bass pedals are used to set up a steady drone as the basis for an individual song (such as "Afterglow").

In concerts during the first half of the 1970s, Rutherford often played a double-necked instrument, custom built from a separate Rickenbacker hollowbody 12-string and 4001 bass. Rickenbacker later issued double neck bass/guitar combinations with 4080/6 and 4080/12 models. However, Rutherford assigned the guitar neck to the top position rather than the 4080's stock guitar on bottom. He later had a custom Shergold double-neck made, with the body modified so that each neck could be detached and played as a standard single-neck instrument, or swapped out in favour of alternate halves (allowing the 12-string half to be switched to a 6-string when needed). On post-1977 Genesis live shows, Rutherford would alternate parts with touring band member Daryl Stuermer. Stuermer would typically play all of Hackett's original guitar parts (while Rutherford concentrated on bass, twelve-string guitar and pedals), but play bass guitar on most songs from the post-Hackett era (for which Rutherford would move to guitar).

Rutherford also contributed other instrumental work to Genesis, performing occasional cello parts on their early 1970s records and playing the drumkit on live performances of the song "Who Dunnit?" in 1981.

Solo work and Mike and the Mechanics

During breaks in Genesis, Rutherford recorded two solo albums, Smallcreep's Day and Acting Very Strange . However, he was dissatisfied with his solo work and in 1984 he resolved to never record a solo album again, since he felt his creativity was at its peak when working in collaboration. [6] Because of this, he formed the band Mike + The Mechanics during a break from Genesis in 1985.

Mike + The Mechanics' biggest hits are "All I Need Is a Miracle", "Word of Mouth", "The Living Years", "Silent Running" and "Over My Shoulder". To help promote "The Living Years", Rutherford and the record label perpetuated the impression that the song was inspired by Rutherford's relationship with his father, who died during Genesis's Invisible Touch Tour. In 2004, Rutherford confessed that the lyrics were in fact written by B. A. Robertson, and based entirely on Robertson's relationship with his father.[ citation needed ]

Rutherford also collaborated with other artists, including associates Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, on the Against All Odds soundtrack, offering the song "Making A Big Mistake".

Rutherford played at the Strat Pack Concert in 2004 along with Brian May, David Gilmour, Joe Walsh and many other guitarists, in a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. [8] [9] Rutherford performed in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics on 12 August 2012 as a guest member of Ed Sheeran's band along with Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, playing the Pink Floyd song "Wish You Were Here".


Performing in Toronto, 3 June 1977 Rutherford with his Shergold double-neck bass MikeRutherford.jpg
Performing in Toronto, 3 June 1977 Rutherford with his Shergold double-neck bass

Rutherford played mainly Rickenbacker and Shergold basses.[ citation needed ] He developed the idea behind the M-Series Steinberger guitar with the help of English luthier Roger Giffin and he used this extensively in the 1980s and during The Invisible Touch Tour with Genesis. He had a double-neck Status built for the Mama and Invisible Touch tours which featured a six string guitar and four string bass placed in a custom body. In the earlier years of Genesis he played a Dewtron Mister Bassman and, starting in 1976, Moog Taurus bass pedal synthesisers. [10]

Through the early 1970s live tours, Rutherford often used a custom built Rickenbacker double-neck that combined a 12-string semi-hollow-body guitar with a 4-string bass (now on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum). For The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and the first part of the Trick of the Tail tours, he incorporated a Rickenbacker 12-string solid-body guitar and a 6-string Micro-Frets Signature Baritone, equipped with 6-string short scale bass strings. Later he switched to another 12-string solid body/6-string bass combination built from scratch. All these double-neck guitars were made by luthier Dick Knight. A custom Shergold double-neck was made that had modules for 4, 6 and 12 strings guitars. The retunings required for early Genesis songs led to the development of Peter Gabriel's stories and introductions.

For the 2007 tour with Genesis, Rutherford continued to use double-neck instruments when the arrangements demand quick switches between bass and twelve-string guitars. His current double-neck model is a Gibson twelve-string guitar with a Yamaha TRB-4P bass while he prefers Eric Clapton signature model Fender Stratocasters when playing guitar on later pieces.

Personal life

Rutherford currently divides his time between Loxwood, West Sussex, [11] England, and Cape Town, South Africa with his wife Angie. The couple were married on 13 November 1976 and have three children: Kate (b. 1977), Tom (b. 1980), and Harry (b. 1986). The family enjoys equestrian sport such as polo and dressage, in addition to raising horses. [12]

In 2009, Philip Beresford, compiler of the Sunday Times Rich List, estimated Rutherford's fortune at £30 million from past touring activity, future touring income, and the Genesis back catalogue, plus other smaller company assets and accumulated earnings, making him one of the 50 wealthiest residents of Surrey. [13]


In 2014, Rutherford published The Living Years: The First Genesis Memoir with Thomas Dunne Books. The first book about Rutherford's solo career, called Silent Runner by journalist Mario Giammetti, was published in Italy (Edizioni Segno) in 2011.



Mike + The Mechanics

Solo albums

TitleDetailsPeak chart
Smallcreep's Day
  • Release date: 15 February 1980
  • Label: Charisma Records, Passport Records (USA & Canada)
Acting Very Strange 2332145

Solo singles

YearSinglePeak chart positionsAlbum
1980"Moonshine"Smallcreep's Day
"Time and Time Again"
"Working in Line"
1982"Maxine"3739Acting Very Strange
"Halfway There"
"Acting Very Strange"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Related Research Articles

Rickenbacker International Corporation is a string instrument manufacturer based in Santa Ana, California. The company is credited as the first known maker of electric guitars – a steel guitar in 1932 – and today produces a range of electric guitars and basses.

Genesis (band) English rock band

Genesis are an English rock band formed at Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey, in 1967. The band's most commercially successful line-up consists of keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford and drummer/singer Phil Collins. The 1970s line-up featuring singer Peter Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett was among the pioneers of progressive rock.

Anthony Phillips British musician

Anthony Edwin Phillips is an English musician, songwriter, producer and singer who gained prominence as the original lead guitarist of the rock band Genesis, from 1967 to 1970. After Phillips recorded From Genesis to Revelation and Trespass with the band, he left in July 1970 and learned to play more instruments, before he began a solo career.

<i>Trespass</i> (album) 1970 studio album by Genesis

Trespass is the second studio album by the English rock band Genesis. It was released in October 1970 on Charisma Records, and is their last album with guitarist Anthony Phillips and their only one with drummer John Mayhew.

<i>Nursery Cryme</i> 1971 studio album by Genesis

Nursery Cryme is the third studio album by the English rock band Genesis, released in November 1971 on Charisma Records. It was their first to feature drummer/vocalist Phil Collins and guitarist Steve Hackett. The album received a mixed response from critics and was not initially a commercial success; it did not enter the UK chart until 1974, when it reached its peak at No. 39. However, the album was successful in Continental Europe, particularly Italy. At approximately 39 minutes long, it is the shortest studio album by the band to date.

<i>Seconds Out</i> 1977 live album by Genesis

Seconds Out is the second live album by English progressive rock band Genesis. It was released as a double album on 14 October 1977 on Charisma Records and was their last to feature guitarist Steve Hackett prior to his departure. The majority was recorded in June 1977 at the Palais des Sports in Paris during the Wind & Wuthering Tour. One track, "The Cinema Show", was recorded the previous year at the Pavillon de Paris during their A Trick of the Tail Tour.

<i>A Trick of the Tail</i> 1976 studio album by Genesis

A Trick of the Tail is the seventh studio album by English progressive rock band Genesis. It was released in February 1976 on Charisma Records and was the first album to feature drummer Phil Collins as lead vocalist following the departure of Peter Gabriel. It was a critical and commercial success in the UK and U.S., reaching No. 3 and No. 31 respectively.

<i>...And Then There Were Three...</i> 1978 studio album by Genesis

...And Then There Were Three... is the ninth studio album by the English rock band Genesis. It was released in March 1978 by Charisma Records and is their first recorded as a trio of singer/drummer Phil Collins, keyboardist Tony Banks, and bassist/guitarist Mike Rutherford following the departure of guitarist Steve Hackett. The album marked a change in the band's sound, mixing elements of their progressive rock roots with shorter material, and Collins contributing to more of the group's songwriting.

Daryl Stuermer Musical artist

Daryl Mark Stuermer is an American musician, songwriter, and producer best known for playing the guitar and bass for Genesis during live shows, and lead guitar for Phil Collins during most solo tours and albums. He has also released nine solo albums, and tours with his Daryl Stuermer Band.


Shergold Guitars, or Shergold Woodcrafts Limited, is an English guitar manufacturing company established in October 1967 by former Burns London employees Jack Golder and Norman Houlder. Based in East London, the company moved from Forest Gate to Harold Wood in 1973.

Suppers Ready 1972 song by Genesis

"Supper's Ready" is a song by the band Genesis. A recorded version appeared on their 1972 album Foxtrot, and the band performed the song regularly on stage for several years following this. Live versions appear on the albums Live at the Rainbow recorded in 1973, Seconds Out recorded in 1977, the compilation Genesis Archive 1967–75, and the box set Genesis Live 1973–2007. A reworked version also appears on Steve Hackett's 2012 album Genesis Revisited II and its accompanying live albums Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith and Genesis Revisited: Live at Royal Albert Hall.

<i>Voyage of the Acolyte</i> 1975 studio album by Steve Hackett

Voyage of the Acolyte is the first studio album by English guitarist, songwriter, and singer Steve Hackett, released in October 1975 on Charisma Records as his only album recorded and released while he was a member of Genesis. Hackett recorded the album during a break in group activity in mid-1975 and used guest musicians, including Genesis bassist Mike Rutherford and drummer Phil Collins, to play on the record. It has a loose concept with the title and lyrics of each track inspired by a Tarot card.

"Xanadu" is a song by the Canadian progressive rock band Rush from their 1977 album A Farewell to Kings. It is approximately eleven minutes long, beginning with a five-minute-long instrumental section before transitioning to a narrative written by Neil Peart, which in turn was inspired by the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem Kubla Khan.

<i>Smallcreeps Day</i> (album) 1980 studio album by Mike Rutherford

Smallcreep's Day is the first studio album by English guitarist and songwriter Mike Rutherford, released in February 1980 on Charisma Records. It was recorded in 1979 during a period of inactivity from his rock band Genesis, during which Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks recorded their first solo albums. The 24-minute title track is based on the 1965 novel Smallcreep's Day by Peter Currell Brown which tells the story of Mr. Smallcreep and the journey of self-discovery he takes through the assembly line of the factory he has worked in for forty years.

Multi-neck guitar

A multi-neck guitar is a guitar that has multiple fingerboard necks. They exist in both electric and acoustic versions. Although multi-neck guitars are quite common today, they are not a modern invention. Examples of multi-neck guitars and lutes go back at least to the Renaissance.

The Musical Box (band)

The Musical Box are a French-Canadian tribute band formed in Montreal, Quebec in 1993 who recreate performances by the English rock band Genesis during the 1970s. The current line-up is formed of singer and performer Denis Gagné, guitarist François Gagnon, bassist Sébastien Lamothe, keyboardist Ian Benhamou, and drummer Bob St-Laurent.

"The Musical Box" is a song by English progressive rock band Genesis, which was originally released on their third studio album Nursery Cryme in 1971. The song is written in the key of F# major. This song is the longest song on the album at 10 minutes long.

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour was a North American and European concert tour by English rock band Genesis. It began on 20 November 1974 in Chicago, ended on 22 May 1975 in Besançon, France, and promoted their 1974 album of the same name. At each show, the album was played in its entirety, with one or two older songs as encores. The group's final tour with singer Peter Gabriel, it was marked by extensive theatricality, with multiple costumes worn by Gabriel, three backdrop screens that displayed 1,450 slides from eight projectors, laser lighting, and practical effects.

Wind & Wuthering Tour

The Wind & Wuthering Tour was an English, North American, South American and European concert tour by the English rock band Genesis.

<i>Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall</i> 2014 live album by Steve Hackett

Genesis Revisited: Live at the Royal Albert Hall is a live album by musician Steve Hackett. It was recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, London, during the second UK leg of a tour around the release of Genesis Revisited II. It features a full set from the show performed on 24 October 2013, including 18 Genesis songs. The box set features the full live show across two CDs and on one DVD, together with a further DVD containing two documentaries.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Rutherford 2014, p. 2. sfn error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFRutherford2014 (help)
  2. "Mike Rutherford Biography". Worldofgenesis.com. 2 October 1950. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  3. Prasad, Anil. "Genesis: Turning it on again". Innerviews. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  4. "Michael Rutherford". mostlypink.net. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  5. Rutherford, Mike (25 January 2014). "The precious living years with my father". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Neer, Dan (1985). Mike on Mike [interview LP], Atlantic Recording Corporation.
  7. Bowler & Dray 1992, p. 143.
  8. "Strat Pack 'Live In Concert' - In Review". Guitar Nine. 30 May 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
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  11. https://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/people/genesis-rock-star-mike-rutherford-backs-campaign-save-loxwood-woodland-3035368
  12. "GenesisNews.com: Mike Rutherford Biography" . Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  13. "Surrey's richest 50". GreatBritishLife.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  14. Mike Rutherford in Norwegian Charts, norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 27 September 2011.