Mike Rutherford’s career has spanned over four decades and boasted over 150 million record sales. A founding member of Genesis and the Mike of Mike + The Mechanics, he is guitarist, bassist, and foremost, a songwriter.
Mike’s first ‘band’ was The Chesters, formed at the age of nine with schoolmate Dimitri at The Leas boarding school near Liverpool, UK. At 13, he won a place at Charterhouse, where he’d meet Anthony “Ant” Phillips and join his next band, the Anon. It was after the Anon’s bass player left that Mike would switch from guitar to playing bass, a position he would continue when the Anon merged with another school band, the Garden Wall. Together with Ant Phillips, Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel, this new band would eventually become Genesis.
Genesis released their first album, From Genesis to Revelation, in March of 1969, though the band would not truly start to find their own sound until their second album, 1970’s Trespass. Its line-up saw many changes over the years: the first big one being Ant Phillips’ departure. Mike recalls the departure of his best friend as being “the most traumatic split of [his] professional career”. Their musical relationship was not over completely, though, and the two would later collaborate on solo projects.
Soon Phil Collins and Steve Hackett would join the band, and they would function as a five-piece until Peter Gabriel’s departure following the tour for the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. It was during this time that Mike could be seen with his famous double-neck guitar, a signature instrument borne of a need to quickly switch between a bass and 12-string guitar during live shows. He would continue to use this guitar until 1984.
Steve Hackett’s departure from Genesis in 1977 and Phil Collins’ hiatus in 1979 prompted Mike’s first foray into solo territory. He began recording his first solo album, Smallcreep’s Day, in the autumn of 1979. Based on Peter Currell Brown’s novel of the same name, the album featured Noel McCalla as vocalist, and old friend Ant Phillips on keyboard. The album received mixed reviews, but remains a fan favourite for its strong, atmospheric instrumentation.
Mike decided to give singing a try on 1982’s Acting Very Strange. Though the album contained some fine material, this would be his last truly solo album, as it became clear that one of the things Mike enjoyed about writing was collaboration. During the next break in-between Genesis projects, Mike + The Mechanics was born.
MIKE + THE MECHANICS
Working closely with BA Robertson and Christopher Neil, Mike et al. already had much of the Mechanics’ debut 1985 album written before finding the band’s main vocalists Paul Carrack and Paul Young. The Mechanics saw a great deal of success, and in 1990, Mike and
BA Robertson were awarded the Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for ‘The Living Years’. The band recorded five albums (plus a hits compilation) with the two Pauls on vocals before Paul Young’s sudden death in 2000.
That same year, Genesis would announce their intention to stop recording and touring after the Calling All Stations tour. As for the Mechanics, one more album, Rewired, would be recorded with Paul Carrack, before the band decided it was time to go their separate ways in 2006.
Mike made many live appearances after that point, including the Genesis reunion tour in 2007, but was perhaps missing the writing element. This desire to collaborate would eventually lead to the Mechanics going back to basics in 2009 to work on a new album with vocalists Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar. That album, The Road, was released in 2011. Their next album Let Me Fly is expected in early 2017.
Mike currently lives in West Sussex with his wife Angie. They have three children: Kate, Tom and Harry. Outside of music, Mike enjoys polo, cycling and golf, and is an active contributor to multiple charities.