When Genesis’ Tony Banks Was Asked to Sign a Sex Pistols Single
Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks cited the moment he met a Sex Pistols fan at the U.K. movement’s height to demonstrate that the punk era seemed to pass his band by, even though the majority of ‘70s prog outfits struggled to survive the change in musical tastes.
The group were busy finding their own new direction after the departures of singer Peter Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett, which resulted in “Follow You Follow Me” becoming their first hit single in 1978.
“I always felt we were lucky to be the last ones left standing,” Banks told the Guardian in a new interview, ahead of what could be their final tour. “Our competitors – people like Yes and E.L.P. – had faded by that point. So we were the last of that prog bastion. We actually had our first hit record… during the height of punk. It kind carried us through that time.”
He continued: “It’s funny, I remember walking down [London’s] Wardour Street one day and saw this guy in full punk kit: ears pieced, pins, leather jacket. He ran up to me and said: ‘Tony Banks! I really need your autograph!’ And he pulls out this copy of ‘Pretty Vacant’ for me to sign. It actually showed what I’d always known: that people have multiple tastes, people aren’t stuck in a rut. They like a bit of this and a bit of that.”
Frontman Phil Collins added: “The thing was, I didn’t like a lot of the bands that [punks] didn’t like, too. I always saw us as slightly separate from all of that. And when punk happened, we were away an awful lot – three American tours and three European tours. I used to get Melody Maker and all those papers every single week, but I wasn’t getting them any more. The short periods that I was at home, I don’t think I heard a single Clash record or Damned record. It just passed me by.”
Banks observed: “Genesis have always been slightly below the radar. We’ve never been part of a current trend; we don’t tend to get awards; we’re just sort of … there. People that like us really like us, though, and that’s all we care about.”