One listen to early 70s Genesis and one look at lead singer Peter Gabriel’s outlandish stage costumes and you might think they were a bit standoffish and inscrutable offstage. But Pittsburgh native Regis Boff, who was their tour manager during those years, tells a different story. Not yet the superstars they would later become, he says that the members of Genesis were a pretty approachable bunch of guys, at that time, more apt to visit a national landmark on their day off than to indulge in the stereotypical cocktail of sex and drugs one associates with bands of that era. Here’s what else he had to say.
Q: How did you hook up with Genesis?
A: A college friend managed a group of guys from Columbia, Sha Na Na. At the time (late 72), Genesis asked him if he could run a show at the NY Philharmonic – their first official show in America. He was more of a manager type, so he hired me because I had some sense of how to do it. After they flew back to England, they called and asked me to be their tour manager in Europe and the States.
Q: What was it like touring with Genesis?
A: They were my age. We were all friends. I wasn’t very competent when we were in Europe (laughs). They did all the booking; they had been through Europe and I hadn’t. I was constantly lost. Whereas in America, I knew everything and they didn’t. So, it was really very sweet. They wanted to go to national landmarks and so did I. We would book tours and say, “Well, we can hit Mt. Rushmore on the way or the Grand Canyon.” And the wives came and the children came.
Q: I would have thought there would have been more sex, drugs and rock and roll with Genesis. No?
A: Well, first of all there was no sex, no drugs and they weren’t rock and roll! It was hard to get them played on radio in those days (though, I think it’s amongst the most brilliant music ever done). In Europe they were a little bigger, but in America nobody knew them. We would go into high school and college gymnasiums and carry a huge curtain to cover the empty seats, so people would think we sold out, because we couldn’t even fill half a gymnasium!
A: With Genesis, I was actually the highest-paid member of the band. I used to pay them! I would give them per diems, give out cash each week for them to live on. These were agreed to amounts and they were all pretty tight-fisted. [Genesis drummer] Phil Collins‘ wife was in Canada, or England, and he got on a long-distance phone call and fell asleep and forgot to disconnect. He came down to me in the morning almost in tears because of the huge phone bill he got. With The Who, and their drummer Keith Moon, we went through an entire tour where he basically made no money. His share was almost gone because he would destroy entire hotel rooms.
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