- Peter Gabriel (lead vocals, flute, percussion) 1967-1975
- Tony Banks (keyboards, 12-string guitar, backing vocals) 1967-1998
- Mike Rutherford (bass, guitars, backing vocals) 1967-1998
- Anthony Phillips (guitars, backing vocals) 1967-1970
- Jonathan Silver (drums) 1967-1969
- Jonathan Mayhew (drums, percussion, backing vocals) 1970
- Phil Collins (drums, lead vocals, backing vocals) 1970-1996
- Steve Hackett (guitars) 1970-1977
- Ray Wilson (vocals) 1997-1998
HistoryGenesis recorded its first album, 1968's From Genesis to Revelation, after striking a deal with Jonathan King, a songwriter and producer who had a hit single at the time called "Everyone's Gone to the Moon". The band recorded a series of songs reflecting the light pop style of the Bee Gees, of whom King was very fond, and King assembled these tracks into a pseudo-concept album, piling string arrangements on top of them. The album flopped terribly, and the band, feeling manipulated by King, told him they had broken up in order to get out of their contract with him. To this day, King is infamous among the band and its fans for bragging that he gave Genesis their name and trying to hawk the rights to the first album's songs for re-recording.
Genesis soldiered on, playing what gigs they could get and eventually landing a new deal with the fledgling Charisma Records. Anthony Phillips left the band in 1970 after the release of Trespass over disagreements about the direction of Genesis' music, and reported bouts of stage fright. The departure of Phillips was traumatic for both Banks and Rutherford, as Phillips had been a founding member, and there was doubt over whether Genesis could go on without him. Eventually, the remaining members rallied and renewed their commitment to Genesis, sacking drummer John Mayhew in the bargain. Steve Hackett and Phil Collins both joined the band after successful auditions, both musicians having answered ads in Melody Maker. Genesis released Nursery Cryme in 1971.
1972's Foxtrot, which featured the 23-minute magnum opus "Supper's Ready" and the Arthur C. Clarke-inspired "Watcher of the Skies", solidified Genesis' reputation as songwriters and performers. Gabriel's flamboyant and theatrical stage presence, which involved numerous costume changes and surreal stories told as the introduction to each song, made the band one of the most talked-about live acts on the early-70s UK club scene. Selling England by the Pound followed in 1973 and recieved praise from critics and fans alike. It is regarded by many Genesis fans to be the finest of their albums. Classics such as "Firth of Fifth" and "Cinema Show" would be staples in live performances for years to come. Genesis would soon venture in a more ambitious project, the concept album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, released in November 1974.
Peter Gabriel left the band in 1975, following the tour to support The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. He had been feeling more and more estranged from the band, and his marriage and birth of his first child only added to his personal strain. The other members of Genesis essentially wrote all of the music to Lamb without Gabriel's participation, and he wrote the story and lyrics on his own. Gabriel's first solo album (Peter Gabriel, 1977) featured the single "Solsbury Hill," an allegory about his breakup with Genesis.
After considering various replacement lead singers — "We got quite a lot of weirdos, because of Peter and his costumes," Rutherford recalled in an interview — Genesis settled on using their drummer, Phil Collins, changing from a quintet to a quartet. Much to everyone's surprise, Collins proved to be the ideal singer for the band. Many believed that the band would fail miserably without Peter Gabriel. A Trick of the Tail was released in 1976, and while it was not nearly as ambitious as the double-LP Lamb..., it recalled Genesis' "classic" period of Foxtrot and Selling England by the Pound. A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering (released a year later) were generally well recieved and demonstrated that the group were far more than a backing band for their theatrical former front-man. Bill Bruford, freshly out of King Crimson joined the band on tour in 1976 as drummer; later, the jazz fusion-trained Chester Thompson, a veteran of Weather Report and Frank Zappa, would take over live drumming duties, leaving Collins to step into the spotlight.
In 1977, Steve Hackett left the band. Mike Rutherford took over his guitar duties, and the group continued as a trio, a fact reflected in the title of their 1978 album ...And Then There Were Three. This album began yet another change in Genesis' musical direction, away from their 10-minute-plus progressive epics and towards shorter, more radio-friendly tracks. It yielded their first American radio hit, "Follow You Follow Me". The platinum-selling Duke followed, and created two huge hits for the band, "Turn It On Again" and "Misunderstanding". Genesis' course into the 1980s as a pop singles outfit was assured — though some fans of their Gabriel-era music felt alienated.
The Collins-led trio enjoyed consistent chart success — fueled by Collins' own success as a solo artist — until he left in 1996. Rutherford and Banks elected to go on, and replaced Collins with ex-Stiltskin singer Ray Wilson. The album Calling All Stations sold well in Europe but went nowhere in America, where hip-hop, alternative rock, and teen pop were supplanting classic rock on the charts.
Genesis has, for all intents and purposes, disbanded, but the individual members (including Phillips and Hackett, but excluding Gabriel) are in regular contact, and have not ruled out some sort of reunion. Tony Banks described Genesis as "resting," and Collins (who has begun to lose his hearing in one ear) has even expressed hope that the entire original lineup, including Gabriel, might play together again.