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Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett is best known as the guitarist with Genesis during their best years as both a progressive and commercial band, across ten albums of their history. His arrival in the group's lineup at the start of 1971, replacing original guitarist Anthony Phillips, provided the group with the last ingredient that it needed for success. In the years since, while Phil Collins may have enjoyed pop/rock stardom and an acting career and his other bandmates their periodic successes, Hackett has come the farthest as a star performer and composer in his own right.

Hackett's earliest experience in playing professionally came with groups named Canterbury Glass and Sarabande, doing mainstream rock with a progressive/psychedelic edge. It was as a studio musician that he excelled, recording with a band called Quiet World during 1970. They were signed to the Pye Records label and released an LP entitled The Road on that company's progressive rock-oriented Dawn Records label. In late 1970, Hackett crossed paths with the group when he placed an advertisement in search of like-minded progressive musicians and Genesis' Peter Gabriel responded -- the group's original guitarist, Anthony Phillips, had departed and they needed a replacement. He saw them in concert with a temporary substitute in the guitarist's spot and approached them about joining. Hackett was in the lineup in January of 1971 and was quickly established as an integral part of their sound, though his concert work at their earliest gigs suffered from the fact that Hackett had little experience playing on-stage, which initially made him nervous. He subsequently became not only an essential part of the group's sound, but also of their image; his bespectacled figure, seated and bent over his instrument in studied concentration, helped to set the group apart from flashier progressive rock outfits of the era.

His skill and vast range opened up the group's sound in new ways during their progressive rock phase; coupled with Phil Collins' drumming in the mix, Genesis was turned into a true virtuoso unit, as revealed on the albums Foxtrot, Genesis Live, Selling England by the Pound, and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, all among the finest progressive rock LPs ever conceived. Then, following the departure of lead singer Gabriel and his replacement by Collins and their move toward a more commercial sound, Hackett proved equally adept; the difference was that their albums were now selling in the millions instead of the hundreds of thousands, and he was getting far more public exposure than ever before.

Hackett's first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte, dated from 1975 and was, in many ways, almost a lost Genesis album, featuring Collins and Michael Rutherford in its lineup of musicians. Coming out as it did in the wake of Gabriel's departure from the group, it was a cause of some strain among the members, despite their participation, but Hackett stayed with the band through the tour behind the release of Wind & Wuthering, making his last appearance with the group on the Seconds Out live album, ironically just as the band was ascending into the top ranks of concert attractions and recording acts. Hackett's first post-Genesis solo album was Please Don't Touch!, which deliberately hewed very far from his old group's progressive sound and departed completely from Voyage of the Acolyte as well. He also put together his first touring band, which included Pete Hicks on vocals and John Shearer on drums, as well as brother John Hackett on flute and keyboards, with whom he subsequently recorded the Spectral Mornings album.

Hackett's sound advanced rapidly in the 1980s, through albums such as Defector -- a fascinating musical/political fantasy -- and the pop-oriented Cured. His concert work kept him busy throughout Europe, and the expanding fame of his old band led a steady stream of listeners to check out the work of the former Genesis guitarist, whose playing and personality were so prominent on those classic early albums. He also reunited with Peter Gabriel and Michael Rutherford and then with all of his ex-bandmates for a pair of 1982 charity concerts. The following year, he enjoyed a very successful European single in the guise of "Cell 151" from the Highly Strung LP, which helped propel that album to hit status. The mid-'80s saw him broaden his sound to include various elements of "world music" in his studio work, and he also to begin playing smaller, more intimate halls where his guitar skills could be better appreciated.

In 1986, Hackett hooked up with Yes guitarist Steve Howe to form GTR, a progressive rock unit that became a favorite of MTV and the rock press, generating a hit single ("When the Heart Rules the Mind") in America and a platinum-selling album for Arista Records, and following them up with an international tour. Hackett resumed his solo career in 1987, but with the momentum of GTR behind him, he now found crowds of tens of thousands eager to hear him play classical-style acoustic guitar and was becoming the arena rock version of Christopher Parkening or guitarist John Williams. His next major release was Time Lapse, a live retrospective collection of his work from several decades of music-making.

In 1994, Hackett surprised most of his fans by turning back to his roots with Blues with a Feeling, an album built around the sounds of blues guitar and harmonica that harked back to his boyhood. This pointed to one of the ironies of Hackett's career: as a member of Genesis, he was presumed by most fans to have been classically trained, but his music was actually derived from a multitude of influences, to which he's always extended himself in order to embrace and absorb; thus, although originally a rock guitarist with blues roots, Hackett has performed with the London Symphony Orchestra and composed instrumental classical music based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream for EMI's Angel Records label.

Even as his composing career ballooned in the 1990s, he also began playing more concerts and turned back to his progressive rock roots by performing Genesis' classic repertoire. Working with a group that includes such luminaries as ex-King Crimson alumni Ian McDonald and John Wetton, not to mention Genesis' Chester Thompson, as well as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Hackett released a live album entitled Genesis Revisited, which was precisely that. During the '90s, he fronted a group known as Steve Hackett/Friends, including former members of King Crimson, who have revived their classic progressive rock repertoire in dramatic new concert form, on CD and concert video. Hackett has continued to record well into the new century; numerous solo albums include To Watch the Storms, Metamorpheus, and Wild Orchids. Live Rails was released in 2011 and was followed by the moderately successful studio album Beyond the Shrouded Horizon later that year. In 2012 Hackett collaborated with Chris Squire from Yes under the moniker Squackett. Their album A Life Within a Day featured seasoned session drummer Jeremy Stacey, who was fresh from his work with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. That same year Hackett released Genesis Revisited II, another collection of reworked early Genesis material, which became his most successful solo album to date. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Great guitar player! And very overlooked ! IMHO
Mr. Hackett way ahead of his time.The sound he creates is unlike any other guitarists on the planet. Thank you .Saw
Steven my battery is. Drying out I hop

Steve I HOPE there's away YOU can find this revise

Ludiz56 hey guys enjoy it , cause when they're gone ; we'll cry for more , ( same thing happened with MOZART, VERDI AND THE REST OF AMAZING GUYS ) for now we are bless to still have him among us so we can enjoy this genius like: Steve Howe , David Gilmore , Hackett , Anthony Philips jan Ackerman Andrew latimer roger waters and no too many more. You know I love this kind of music so much that I hope we can listen it in heaven. NOTE : after the classic music era the world had to wait till the 40's
Oh bloody hell Steve I wish I would have KNOWN YOU were working on this project. There has to BE a way to get in touch. Bless YOUR OLD friend DON, Say do YOU still have that wrist watch...goin g back to when you kicked over YOUR Amp at the start of your second set AT BB KINGS, luv to get myself ONE
The Steve Hackett Music Society on Facebook - 63,000 members. Check it out!
Phil can rock my world any time np onr compair s
The interesting thing he does in his 2 hand tapping technique is he uses his thumb nail instead of his finger tip to hammer on the string.When I shook his hand I noticed how long his nails were! And his hand was cold! Another cool technique he does is on his pinky finger he has a small slide that fits over his pinky on his right hand and uses it as a sort of screeching affect.Most players use the slide on the left hand. He uses that affect at the end of a phrase or riff for punctuality. V e r y cool
Actually Daryl Stuermer handled the guitar/bass duties on the live tours, while Rutherford handled it on the studio recordings. Of course all this was done post Hackett. The finger fret technique that your referring to is actually loosely called 2 hand tapping (hammering on & off).The earliest example would be on Return of the Giant Hogweed on Nursery Cryme. Steve is in my top 5 guitarists of all time. Got to briefly meet him a couple of times.Love his approach & technique, he's very orchestral.
Hugely under rated. Apparently he invented that super fast finger fret method that was later used by people like Eddie Van Halen (I am not a guitarist). You can find examples of that sound on earlier Genesis records. Saw him in 79 on Spectral Mornings and actually, corny as it sounds, had a life changing experience, such beuaty, emotion, such power. Then later in England, 81, 84. No one does atmospherics like Steve. Hoping to catch him one more time but he doesn't play much US where I now live. c d o n a l d
Good bio. I really enjoy the Dark Town cd. It never gets mentioned in biographies which is a shame...
Going to see him in Albany- Genesis Revisited. Can't wait!
Oh yeah, except for forgetting Peters and Phils careers.
Steve was not the guitarist during Genesis' most commercially successful years, Mike Rutherford handled both bass and guitar duties. Otherwise, an excellent bio.
You know, Voyage of the Acolyte seems as if it should be a film score or the background music to A Wrinkle in Time. He also did Till We Have Faces(great book) as an album so maybe he had the same thought.
You know, Voyage of the Acolyte seems as if it should be a film score or the background music to A Wrinkle in Time. He also did Till We Have Faces(great book) as an album so maybe he had the same thought.
one of the most beautiful tunes ever composed - steve is the master of melody -harmonic beauty - love the synth guitar and his brother john plays a ton of flutes - fantastic
yes i agree acolyte is terrific still have it on vinyl
Just one more thing. The length and depth of the bio, one of the better ones on Pandora adds much credibility to the fact that he is one of the best and most underrated rock guitarists.
I'm believing that this is the page for comments on 'Voyage of the Acolyte' by Steve Hackett of Genesis. So I'll just say what needs to be said. This is one of the finest solo albums by a great musician from a great band. It is solid all the way through.Also one of the most overlooked albums ever.
I'll never forget him playing Spectral Mornings with GTR at the Wharfield Theater in SF. Steve is the unsung hero of Progressive Rock. His music defines big themes and an Anthem sound.
I met Steve before the Spectral Mornings tour show in Atlanta, as he was walking in the front door. Awesome show. Saw Genesis in the Fox theater for the Wind and Wuthering show. Best show, venue combo ever.
Genesis revisited was not a live record.
To the comment below: The reviewer was thinking of "best" not financially but in terms of the quality of both the music and the lyrics. It would be great to have a collection of all of Mr. Hackett's classical guitar compositions in once place; they are simply wonderful. I guess you could do it with I Tunes, but it would take quite a bit of time.
Too bad there aren't more like this guy. Very understated and underrated, yet one of my favorites of all time. His beautiful, eerie, and powerful compositions are a testament to a musician who continues to believe in what he does and perfect his sound.

I'm glad he continues to wear the "prog rock" badge with pride, even if he won't label himself into a corner that way. Truly one of the best of our time.
My favorite guitar player!
I like that Hackett proudly does the prog-rock thing. Wish he could've hung in w/ Genesis a little longer, once they all got to the point that solo albums were an accepted practice. But I do love the '78-'81 Genesis stuff too.
Steve Hackett and Tony Banks WERE the Genesis sound, with atmospheric composition and musicianship that have been unequalled since. Commercial success hardly is a strong indicator of depth, sophisticati o n and the ability to touch the soul. How I miss the early days, with the combination of talent that Genesis had; and wonder now what this band would have produced had they remained together. Perhaps
Uh, I love Mr. Hackett and all, but what was this reviewer thinking when he wrote that Steve was there "during their best years as both a progressive and commercial band" He had the progressive part right, but Hackett left in '77. A Trick of the Tail is my favorite album ever recorded, but comparativel y speaking, I wouldn't exactly call it a commercial success.
I love Hackett's playing and thinking, which is increasingly mature and rich. But I have to smile at the reviewer's opening that after Genesis, "Hackett has come the farthest as a star performer and composer in his own right." Yeah, too bad that Peter Gabriel guy didn't pan out... :-)
steve hackett is not only an amazing guitarist he is one of the best composers to come out of the world of music,he has never been satisfied with just dazzling people with his guitar skills - he has always put arrangement and melodic superiority first,he is a mystic with a gtr and he is one of the best guitarist on this planet- its not always about how many notes you can play - with steve hackett its always been about creating atmosphere - listen to steve and float away.
<-----Me and Steve @ the Tarrytown Music Hall 7/16/10 for his "acoustic trio" show, (with Roger King on keys and Rob Townshend on "all things blown" as Steve said in his band introduction s . Phenominal show and meeting one of my idols in person after was icing on the cake!!!
I first saw Steve Hackett live at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1975 for The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour. I remember thinking "How could anyone be that good on guitar ?" But much to my amazement... H a c k e t t only got better in the years that followed.
steve hackett is an exceptionall y gifted artist its too bad the radio stations don't give him fair play. I guess they don't know what they are missing..... . . . . . . . . .
Am seeing him for the umpteenth time July 1 in Cleveland. An angel with a guitar....yo u go, Steve!
ya no now : yes, bay of kings and guitar noir , also tokyo tapes would be great.
Nobody sounds like Hackett. Plays guitar like a keyboard. Unique!
I used the music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as my wedding music. Can't get enough of this guy. Check out his slurred arpeggios on tunes like "Ace of Wands", "the Steppes", and "the Supernatural Anethsitist" . His trills and vibrato are more perfectly developed than any other guitarist I can think of except Jan Ackerman, not to mention his beautiful and often haunting artistic image.
I would love to see "Bay of Kings"
http://www.s t e v e h a c k e t t . c o m / a l b u m s / b a y . h t m l
added to the Selected Discography. How?
Beautiful, and One of my Favorites.
One of the Greats...Ste v i e Hackett
Thanks for giving Steve Hackett his due. Most prolific, but he probably didn't make half the fortune of the other four. Steve Walsh vocal on Narnia is one of my favorites. His solo acoustic work is really fine, pared down stuff and the Midsummer Night's dream is a gem.
Steve Hackett is a marvelous guitarist much like Steve Howe. Listen to the CD "GTR" where both guitarist get to show you their extraordinar y skills with the guitar and Song Writing.
My guitar-hero. Graceful chords and strong melodic solos -- someone who gives Progressive Rock a good name, and who expertise on the classical guitar belies his self-taught bakground. He's not an "axeman", which is a plus for me too. Probably the biggest influence on my own personal playing style...

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