Mike talks to the Daily Express in conjunction with the release of his book. Interview by Jane Clinton.
He was immersed in the fame of Genesis on tour in the United States when, in 1986, he received a phone call to say William, a distinguished Second World War naval captain, had died.
“I’d never told my dad that I loved him and my biggest regret was not telling him what a wonderful man he’d been in my life,” says Rutherford.
He derives consolation from the fact that both his mother and father saw the band, of which he was a founding member, “do well”, as he puts it.
This is something of an understatement. Genesis has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide with hits such as Invisible Touch. Rutherford (who was expelled from public school Charterhouse because his housemaster saw the guitar as a symbol of revolution) is worth somewhere in the region of £30million.
As well as success with Genesis, whose members have included Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, he has also achieved hits, including The Living Years, with his band Mike + the Mechanics which marks its 25th anniversary this year. With lyrics by BA Robertson and music by Rutherford, it is also a poignant meditation on the lack of communication between father and son.
This conversation comes as Rutherford’s memoirs, The Living Years, are published, the first by any of Genesis.
As well as charting his childhood, the formation of Genesis in 1967 and their successes, the book has extracts from his father’s own unpublished manuscript.
After Captain Rutherford’s death a memoir he had written about his life in the navy was found in a trunk along with a publisher’s rejection letter, his papers and his CBE.
In another trunk were two of Rutherford’s grandfather’s published books.
It was only when grown-up sons Tom and Harry had the manuscript bound in leather as a Christmas gift for him that he finally sat down and read his father’s memoirs.
Rutherford, the rock star, had thought his father, with his naval background, could not be more different from him. In fact, aside from taking earplugs to his son’s concerts, he was surprisingly supportive.
As he read his father’s book he began to recognise more and more similarities, not least their touring life, and discovered he had a “very dry sense of humour”.
Having his father’s words published was also “part of the pleasure” of writing the book, explains Rutherford, who at 63 is lean, tanned and relaxed.
“There is also regret. My father never mentioned the war, not once. Maybe in the last years of his life if I had made time to ask he might have talked about it but I never did. At least my parents had the satisfaction of seeing the band, and me, do well.”
Rutherford lives in Sussex with wife of 37 years, Angie. They have three children and two grandchildren. Having children, he says, also made him reassess his relationship with his father.
In his memoirs Rutherford writes with emotion about the support and love his parents gave him, something he never fully appreciated when they were alive.
“When you get older you become more aware of other people’s feelings,” he says.
As for the future, he admits he does not like to make too many plans. Will there be the rumoured Genesis reunion for a Brit performance hinted at by Phil Collins? “There are no plans but who knows? As long as you’re still alive and friends who knows if something might happen.”
One thing he is keen to do is make a BBC programme revealing the importance and influence of Genesis. “I think Genesis get overlooked a bit,” he says. “We never had great press. People never really tie in Genesis and Peter’s [Gabriel] career. There is a huge body of work when you see the list of songs. It would be nice to remind people.”
He also hopes reading the book will prompt people to pick up the phone (he has gone back to phoning people rather than texting or e-mailing) or make a visit.
“I was going to write on the back cover, ‘Having read this book, just remember that once your parents have gone all of those stories they had are lost’. People do not ask enough, sometimes they just need a nudge.”
This article originally appeared on the Express website on 2 February 2014 (link).