The Living Years Book Review – Mike Rutherford

The Living Years (The First Genesis Memoir) written by Mike Rutherford with help from Stephanie Cross and Mike’s wife Angie, Is a rather candid book about the life of Mike Rutherford.

Starting from him growing up to him entering preparatory school and then when he entered the infamous Charterhouse public school near Godalming.

Whilst Mike is at Charterhouse he meets Anthony Phillips, Rivers Job and then later on Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks.

The book covers Mike sneaking out at night to watch gigs at the well-known Marquee club in London, it covers Mike joining a group called The Chester’s, other rarely known facts about Mike’s early musical life are unearthed for reader.

Having personally read countless interviews with Mike Rutherford either as a member of Genesis or Mike and The Mechanics it could be all so easily to view the book with tired eyes, having read the whole book the best thing I can say is that even the most seasoned Genesis fan would learn something new and even fans of the Mechanics would learn some interesting facts.

Mike has been very candid about certain aspects of his life and especially the early years at the Macphails cottage during the winter of 1969 this was a pivotal time for a young Genesis, which covered a few areas that were not known.

Mike hurries through some areas sadly, this could have warranted a more in depth coverage than he applied, whilst other areas well trod.

The most important thing to understand is the ethos of the book. It isn’t a washing line for the perils of growing up in the 1960s, nor the perils of co forming a progressive rock band or a pop outfit it is the essence of what his father memoir’s meant to him and how some of them intertwined with his own life.

Sadly no publisher took his gallant father seriously but thankfully a publisher took Mike serious enough to publish this memoir.

A large element of the book concerns the inner workings of Mike’s relationship with his father a Royal Navy Captain that in places reminds us all of our own mortality and how we shouldn’t take the gift of life for granted.

This book is a great read even if you don’t know anything about Genesis or Mike and The Mechanics, Mike has led an interesting life.

My critical view of the book stems around the following:

  • Some of the dates that stuff happened are plain incorrect, but for a guy who has done so much it is expected.
  • I find it strange that whilst Mike writes about the time he became seriously unwell during the South American tour during a live show, he didn’t mention the fact his guitar technician Dale Newman picked up his guitar and carried on playing throughout the gig.
  • There is not enough history towards the final quarter of the book; in fact 25 to 30 years of Mike’s career from 1980 onwards have been condensed into too few pages.
  • The book misses out a chance to discuss the stories that Pattie Boyd mentions in her book about her friendship/experiences with both Angie and Mike, the first of which was when Pattie was staying with the Rutherford’s in the South of France in August 1986. Especially the moment Bill Wyman ran past their holiday home on the run from the paparazzi.
  • It also fails to mention the time when Pattie and group of others including Angie and Mike were on a trekking holiday in Bhutan in the Himalayas.

This book, if planned properly, could have been split into two parts or volumes covering Mike’s life, alas it hasn’t been.  Also one or two stories seem to lack a middle part to the tale. They start and then they end which makes it look like an editor took a chunk of the story out for reasons that have not been made clear. The book is illustrated well with photos some of which have not been since before, with two or three being the exception. The book cost me £16.99; it was well this price tag for the hardback (cased) version.

I would still recommend the book in spite of the issues I raised.

The Book has been on release since the 23rd January 2014.