Apologies if this has been posted elsewhere - came across this article on 'Rock's Back Pages':
The shambolic Genesis reunion that saved Peter Gabriel from financial ruin
Ian Winwood, Daily Telegraph, 6 August 2020
Womad crippled Peter Gabriel, so his former bandmates offered to keep the bailiffs away. If only they could remember how to play together…
ON OCTOBER 2 1982, Peter Gabriel rejoined Genesis for one night only at a concert at the Milton Keynes Bowl. For legal reasons, the re-union was billed as Six Of The Best, a sleight of hand that did nothing to deter more than 60,000 supporters from descending on a venue in northern Buckinghamshire that was once a clay pit. As befits this most wistfully English of groups, it tipped it down all day.
In an artistic sense, Gabriel had no use for Genesis. In the seven years that had elapsed since his last concert with the band — at the Palais des Sports in Besancon, in France — the 32-year old had invested time and energy in establishing his credentials as a sole trader.
So effective had this process been that the set-list for his North American tour of 1982 featured not a single song from his period with the band with which he made his name.
"Having tried for seven years to get away from the image of being ex-Genesis there's obviously a certain amount of [trepidation] stepping back," he told the NME in 1982. "I don't think they would choose at this point to work me or, or I with them."
Gabriel told Genesis that he would be leaving their ranks at a meeting at the Swingos Hotel, in Cleveland, on November 24 1974. The fortunes of their want-away singer duly prospered, but so too did those of the musicians he left behind.
With drummer Phil Collins assuming the role of vocalist, the trio enjoyed their first major hit single with 'Follow You Follow Me', in 1978. Two years later, Duke became their first album to reach number one.
Unusually, the reunion of the two camps was not informed by the corrupting allure of nostalgia or personal enrichment. Rather, it was the logical response to a pressing emergency — the need to forestall the arrival of bailiffs, and bankruptcy. Putting it baldly, without the help of his erstwhile colleagues, Peter Gabriel would have gone bust. "It's very generous of them [to offer to help]," he said, "and I'm very grateful."
The singer's problems began in 1981 after he met the three publishers of the quarterly music magazine the Bristol Recorder. United by a passion for what would become known as "world music", the quartet decided to found Womad — World Of Music And Dance — an organisation dedicated to promoting international non-mainstream artists from Chadwell Heath to Chad.
Plans for a compilation album, Music & Rhythm, were put in train with contributions from Gabriel, David Byrne, and Peter Hammill, among others. An inaugural three-day festival at the 240 acre Royal Bath and Wells Showground, in the Somerset town of Shepton Mallet, was announced for the weekend of July 16 1982. The bill featured artists from 21 countries, and included Peter Gabriel, Imrat Khan, The Beat, Simple Minds, Don Cherry, Drummers of Burundi, and more.
The Womad festival featured innovations that would in time become staples of the summer circuit. Films were shown; stage time was allotted to spoken-word performers; food stands included the Simple Simon Wholefood Store, the Portobello Road Sweet Corn Company, as well as concession stalls knocking out wholegrain crepes and Jamaican fish and chips. Ticketholders were also at liberty to purchase items of clothing capable of blinding a child at 40 paces.
But it was doomed from the start. The release of Music & Rhythm met with severe delays, with knock-on effects for the sizable advance from WEA Records. The local authority decreed that the event could take place only in the venue's Showering Pavilion, which held 4,000 people. The Arts Council declined to provide funding; this being Britain in the 1980s, there was also a rail strike. Inevitably, the weather was not kind.
Worse still, ticket sales were poor. One attendee remarked that "there seemed to be more people walking about with laminate [passes] than there were audience [members]." Realising that they were on the hook for the festival's mounting debts, all but one member of the organising committee resigned their posts just days before the curtain was raised.
The man left standing was Peter Gabriel. "It became a nightmare experience when we realised there was no way we were getting the ticket [sales] to cover our costs," he told The Guardian in 2012. "The debts were way above what I could manage, but people saw me as the only fat cat worth squeezing. I got a lot of nasty phone calls and a death threat.
"We naively assumed that we had an event with more appeal than it actually had," was his wistful conclusion.
Salvation came via the umbilical chord that remained uncut between Peter Gabriel and Genesis. Despite their estrangement, the two camps were hardly warring parties. Phil Collins played drums on three of the tracks on the singer's untitled third LP, from 1980. As well as this, the band's manager, Tony Smith, retained a 50 per cent stake in Gabriel's management.
It was Smith's idea to get the old band together. But with the weather cooling and time as an enemy, a concert that would ordinarily take 18 months to plan was pulled together in a matter of weeks. Tickets cost £9, or a tenner for those that paid on the gate.
Adverts in the music press made clear that the event was "a benefit for Womad". "It seemed like a pretty obvious thing to do [but] the problem was logistics," said bassist and guitarist Mike Rutherford in an understatement worthy of Reginald Jeeves.
In the autumn of 1982, Genesis were approaching the end of the Three Sides Live Encore tour — only a prog band could hit the road in support of a live album — a two month caravan of North America and Europe that pulled up to the loading bays of the Hammersmith Odeon on the final three nights of September. Rehearsals for the show at the Bowl were scheduled for the afternoons of these London concerts.
The task was mountainous. In 1982, the group were used to performing just four pieces from their era with Peter Gabriel — 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway', 'The Colony Of The Slippermen', 'In The Cage', and 'Supper’s Ready' — hardly ideal preparation for a two-hour marathon of early-day material. Onstage at a deserted Odeon, Mike Rutherford discovered that he'd forgotten an entire four-minute section in the middle of 'The Musical Box'.
"I got a call from management to go down to the Hammersmith Odeon to shoot the rehearsals," says photographer Robert Ellis, who has worked with Genesis since 1972. "I was amazed because I didn't know it was going to happen. I'd been on the tour with the band up until that time, in America and elsewhere, and I didn't know anything about it. So I guess it was a last minute decision to hold these rehearsals… [but] it sounded under-rehearsed. There's no question about that."
The bill at the Bowl also included The Blues Band, John Martyn, and Talk Talk. Under gunmetal skies, the audience treated the latter group to a torrent of boos and bottles which suggested that fans of progressive rock were not without a regressive edge. Six years later, Talk Talk released Spirit Of Eden, an album of such grand invention that it made Genesis sound like The Wombles.
The name Six Of The Best encompassed Peter Gabriel, the three full-time members of Genesis — a line-up completed by keyboardist Tony Banks — as well drummer Chester Thompson and guitarist and bassist Daryl Stuermer, the band's additional touring musicians. The nom de guerre also gave a knowing nod to kind of corporal punishment once meted out at Charterhouse, the private school in Surrey at which most of its members first met.
Backstage at the Bowl, Gabriel sat in his dressing room like a nervous schoolboy. "Peter wasn't at all confident about the whole thing," Ellis remembers. "[In fact] I would characterise him as quaking in his boots." At his keyboards, Tony Banks wore a tracksuit on which was written the word "kamikaze", an adjective that "underlined [his] attitude to the whole night."