Mike Rutherford

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Mike Rutherford
Mike Rutherford.jpg
Rutherford playing at Manchester, England, in 2007
Background information
Birth name Michael John Cleote Crawford Rutherford
Born (1950-10-02) 2 October 1950 (age 63)
Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Genres Progressive rock, pop rock, art rock
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Bass guitar, guitar, vocals, keyboards, sitar, cello, drums
Years active 1967–present
Labels Charisma, Atlantic, WEA, Passport (US)
Associated acts Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics, Red 7
Website www.genesis-music.com
Notable instruments
Shergold Double Neck Bass Guitar
Steinberger Guitar

Michael John Cleote Crawford Rutherford (born 2 October 1950) is an English musician. He is a founding member of Genesis, initially as a bassist and backing vocalist.[1] Rutherford often played rhythm guitar and Twelve-string guitar for the band in the early years. Following the departure of Steve Hackett from Genesis in 1977, he assumed the role of lead guitarist on the band's studio albums, beginning with ...And Then There Were Three... in 1978. He is one of only two constant members in Genesis (the other is keyboardist Tony Banks). Rutherford wrote the lyrics to many Genesis songs during their career, including some of the band's biggest international hits, such as "Follow You Follow Me", "Turn It On Again", "Land of Confusion" and "Throwing It All Away".[2] He also formed Mike + The Mechanics in 1985. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010.

Early life[edit]

Rutherford received his first guitar at the age of eight, and played in his first band, the Chesters (so named because they lived near Chester) at the age of nine.[3] His father, Crawford Rutherford, was a Royal Navy Captain who became a manager in industry upon his retirement from the service. Mike boarded at the Leas Preparatory School in Hoylake and moved at the age of 13 to Charterhouse School, where he joined the Anon and formed a songwriting partnership with fellow guitarist Anthony Phillips.

At age 15, the two of them founded Genesis with Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel. Rutherford hated his time in public school however, and was later expelled from Charterhouse for what he describes as a number of instances of minor misconduct.[3]

Bass/guitar playing[edit]

Rutherford's bass playing involved the bass with high treble and the use of a pick. Rutherford was noted for his use of the 12-string guitar. A distinctive sound of early Genesis recordings was the double acoustic 12-string playing of Rutherford intertwined with that of Anthony Phillips, and, later, Steve Hackett (additionally, keyboardist Tony Banks would occasionally throw his own 12-string into the mix). Early Genesis recordings often featured simultaneous 12 string guitar and Dewtron "Mister Bassman" bass pedal synthesiser playing by Rutherford. He used Moog Taurus bass pedals as well by the Trick of the Tail Tour.

Often, bass guitar, 12-string guitar, and bass pedal playing would feature in different sections of a single song, "Supper's Ready", "Firth of Fifth", and "The Cinema Show" being good examples of this. He often played a double necked instrument, custom built from a separate Rickenbacker hollowbody 12-string and 4001 bass. Rickenbacker later issued double neck bass/guitar combinations with 4080/6 and 4080/12 models. However, Rutherford had the guitar in the top position rather than the 4080's stock guitar on bottom. He later had a custom Shergold double neck made with the body modified so that each neck could be detached and played as a standard single-neck instrument.


After the departure of guitarist Steve Hackett, Rutherford took over all guitarist roles for the band in the recording studio. On live shows, he would alternate between guitar and bass with touring-only guitarist/bassist Daryl Stuermer. Stuermer would typically play all of Hackett's guitar parts and play bass on most songs from the post-Hackett era. Rutherford often used long, melodic tones, bending the notes into plaintive, almost vocal lines. This results in "singable" solos or the creation of sonic atmospheres rather than showy displays of technical prowess.

As a rhythm guitar player and writer, Rutherford favours melodic, minimalist chords or progressions of single notes, as in Genesis songs "Follow You Follow Me", "Turn It On Again", and "Invisible Touch", or the Mike + the Mechanics song "The Living Years".

Though his work with bass and guitar has been praised by some critics, Rutherford has described his playing as average and said that he considers himself a songwriter first and foremost.[3]

Rutherford played at the Strat Pack Concert in 2004 along with Brian May, David Gilmour and Joe Walsh.[why?]


During breaks in Genesis, he recorded two solo albums, Smallcreep's Day and Acting Very Strange. However, he was dissatisfied with his solo work and in 1984 he resolved to never record a solo album again, since he felt his creativity was at its peak when working in collaboration.[3] Because of this, he formed the band Mike + The Mechanics during a break from Genesis in 1985.

Mike + The Mechanics' biggest hits are "All I Need Is a Miracle", "Word of Mouth", "The Living Years", "Silent Running" and "Over My Shoulder". To help promote the song, Rutherford and the record label perpetuated the impression that "The Living Years" was inspired by Rutherford's relationship with his father, who died during Genesis's Invisible Touch Tour. In a 2004 interview, Rutherford confessed that the lyrics were in fact written by B. A. Robertson, and based entirely on Robertson's relationship with his father.[4]

Rutherford also collaborated with other artists, including associates Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, on the Against All Odds soundtrack, offering the song "Making A Big Mistake".

Rutherford performed in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics on 12 August 2012 as a guest member of Ed Sheeran's band along with Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, playing the Pink Floyd song "Wish You Were Here".


Performing in Toronto, 3 June 1977 Rutherford with Shergold double-neck bass

Rutherford played mainly Rickenbacker and Shergold basses. He said (in 1979) of the early Rickenbackers he played that "they were all borrowed from a friend. We'd borrow one, break it, then borrow another. Up until a couple of years ago, I didn't own one myself".[citation needed] He developed the idea behind the M-Series Steinberger guitar with the help of English luthier Roger Giffin and he used this extensively in the '80s and during The Invisible Touch Tour with Genesis. He had a double-neck Status built for the Mama tour which featured a six string guitar and four string bass placed in a custom body. In the earlier years of Genesis he used to play Moog Taurus bass pedal synthesiser.

Through the early '70s live tours, Rutherford often used a custom built Rickenbacker double-neck that combined a 12-string semi-hollow-body guitar with a 4-string bass (now on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum). For "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" and the first part of the "Trick of the Tail" tours, he incorporated a Rickenbacker 12-string solid-body guitar and a 6-string Micro-Frets Signature Baritone, equipped with 6-string short scale bass strings. Later he switched to another 12-string solid body/6-string bass combination built from scratch. All these double-neck guitars were made by luthier Dick Knight. A custom Shergold double-neck was made that had modules for 4, 6 and 12 strings guitars. The retunings required for early Genesis songs led to the development of Peter Gabriel's stories and introductions.

Today with Genesis Rutherford continues to use double-neck instruments, when the arrangements demand quick switches between bass and 12-string instruments. His current double-neck model is a Gibson 12-string guitar with a Yamaha TRB-4P bass while he prefers Eric Clapton signature model Fender Stratocasters when playing guitar on later pieces.

Personal life[edit]

Rutherford currently lives in Surrey, England, with wife Angie. The couple were married on 13 November 1976 and have three children: Kate (b. 1977), Tom (b. 1980), and Harry (b. 1986). The family enjoys equestrian sport such as polo and dressage, in addition to raising horses. [5]

In 2009, Philip Beresford, compiler of the Sunday Times Rich List, estimated Rutherford's fortune at £30 million from past touring activity, future touring income and the Genesis back catalogue, plus other smaller company assets and accumulated earnings, making him one of the 50 richest residents of Surrey.[6]



Mike + The Mechanics[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart
Smallcreep's Day
  • Release date: February 15, 1980
  • Label: Charisma Records, Passport Records (USA & Canada)
13 163 30
Acting Very Strange 23 32 145

Solo singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
1980 "Moonshine" Smallcreep's Day
"Time and Time Again"
"Working in Line"
1982 "Maxine" 37 39 Acting Very Strange
"Halfway There"
"Acting Very Strange"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


  1. ^ "Mike Rutherford Biography". Worldofgenesis.com. 2 October 1950. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Prasad, Anil. "Genesis: Turning it on again". Innerviews. Retrieved 27 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Neer, Dan (1985). Mike on Mike [interview LP], Atlantic Recording Corporation.
  4. ^ Rothstein, Simon (18 June 2004). "The Mechanics fix it for Us". London: The Sun. Retrieved 8 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "GenesisNews.com: Mike Rutherford Biography". Retrieved 18 Aug 2012. 
  6. ^ "Surrey's richest 50". GreatBritishLife.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  7. ^ Mike Rutherford in Norwegian Charts, norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.

External links[edit]