“The Living Years: The First Genesis Memoir” by Mike Rutherford (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015)

Living Years
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Perhaps the most exciting thing about The Living Years, other than the kickass cover, is the subtitle: “the first Genesis memoir,” which hopefully is more than an advertising ploy, but a foreshadowing of future biographies to come. The book is only 250 odd pages long, which is kind of an ideal length for a music biography, as Rutherford doesn’t spend too long waffling on about old stories that just loose the reader.

The Living Years is a biography of the founding member and eventual lead guitarist of Genesis, Mike Rutherford, but it is also his introspection into his father’s life and career, which he didn’t really know about until his father passed away. Hence, the title – if you know the Mike + the Mechanics song – is perfectly fitting.

Rutherford begins with his birth and upbringing and then his meeting friendships with some teen musicians at Charterhouse. He then takes the reader in a complete overview career of Genesis, touching on each album, and paying attention to each band member leaving and what effect it had on both the band and himself. Throughout the book he includes short paragraphs from his father’s journal looking at where Rutherford’s and his father’s life and career crossed over in a way.

The Living Years is a great read. Rutherford has an enjoyable easy-going voice that immediately engrosses you. The chapters are nice and short and the story moves along at a good clip, not giving the reader a chance to get bored. But Mike also has plenty of stories and anecdotes to tell and doesn’t hold back when it comes to commentary on “drugs and rock’n’roll.”  Rutherford has no reservations, telling it as it is, in this fascinating look at one of the biggest rock acts in the history of music.

Originally written on March 23, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

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