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Family Snapshots - Bildergalerie

Thomas Morgenstern

Memories of 'it'

by Tom Morgenstern

It must have been in prehistoric times. I remember standing in a phone booth in a desolate Nuremberg business park to speak with one Helmut Janisch. That was in early 1992 when the fanclub could not walk yet, but it could talk. Helmut was very kind and open-minded and indeed promised to help!

At the time I was busy transfering my Genesis singles to professional 15.3in/s mastertapes (affectionately known as shoelaces) to put together an archive. If ever those horribly expensive recordable CDs should become affordable, I wanted to transfer them to this neat new medium. Unfortunately, my collection lacked the B-side of Carpet Crawlers, the famous Evil Jam. I had been looking for it on every record fair. Those were the years before the internet where you could not simply go look up a discography, or I would have noticed that there were several other non-album tracks I did not have, but at the time the Evil Jam was my Holy Grail.

In the Musik-Express magazine I bought occasionally I noticed an ad by the „German Genesis fanclub“; it sounded official, though I wondered why a Genesis fanclub was started only in the 1990s, when the best years of the band seemed to have been in the past already. I was not really interested to join a club, since there was other music I also liked. But my single project had got stuck, so I called them. I do not remember the details of the conversation, but a few days later I received a Compact-Cassette with a copy of the Evil Jam in excellent quality in th email. I could not say whether Helmut made me join the fanclub in return or not, but I soon also received a laminated membership card with a small serial number and then quite regularly those fascinating and exceedingly well-done fanzines, which I began to collect. All this came at a very reasonable rate, like a kind of subscription you pay once a year.

Another contact occurred years later when I sent Helmut an unsolicited review of the second Archive box. It was triggered by my annoyance about the product. Since Helmut was also writing a review and since we both had a slightly different focus he had the idea of merging both reviews and publishing it in the 2000 annual magazine. That was, as far as I know, the final printed edition of the fanzine; after that there was only the internet. I had joined the net in 1997, though mainly international because the first incarnations of the German website had been a bit disappointing – I had hoped that all the content of all the fanzines that had come out so far (and I had missed a couple) would be available to read. Later I found out that technical issues made that very difficult.

The official Genesis forum seemed much more alert and interesting, plus the German website offered absolutely nothing at all about what had become my predominant interest: unreleased live recordings, bootlegs and the world of trading with its secret FTP servers, mailing-lists and conspiratory circles. The fanclub sort of faded from my view for several years.

In 2006 I attented a meeting of the British fanclub in London; it was actually just a two-day festival of Genesis coverbands, but it gave me the opportunity to actually meet many people who I had only had virtual contact with. The highpoint was meeting John Mayhew and a couple of other fans in a traditional London pub. He was to come to [the meeting of the German fanclub in] Welkers later that same year – which was a reason for me to make my way to the meeting out in the sticks. Though the do not compare with their British opposite (the UK fans know and recognize each other, and things are much more familiar and relaxed there) I have not missed any club meetings since.

Whereas the various official forums always had a rather short span of existence and were closed and reopened for pretended reasons that would seriously tick off the fans, the German forum has proved a place of stability and reliability. After two years of nagging Christian the forum also finally got its own bootleg subforum.

Tom Morgenstern, Oktober 2011

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