STEVE HACKETT
Guitarist|December 2020
It’s a time of reflection for Steve Hackett. With his autobiography, A Genesis In My Bed, on the bookshelves and a new live album retelling his old band Genesis’s most powerful prog statement with a version of Selling England By The Pound, the time seems right to look back and trace his musical journey to its starting point…
David Mead

In The Beginning

“The mouth organ was a big deal for me, so from the age of about two my parents started buying me harmonicas because it was my favourite toy. My mum says I was playing tunes at two, but that can’t be possible. She said, ‘You used to play the same little tune over and over again…’ I do remember what was going on and it was trying to learn to isolate the notes so that I could move them around. So I think I spent forever just playing the lowest two notes – suck, blow and move around – and then for some reason one day I realised I could play a bunch of tunes. I don’t know if I was three or four, but certainly no older than that. I could play Scotland The Brave, Oh! Susanna and God Save The Queen. Suddenly I could play three tunes. ‘Look, mum!’”

Into The Shadows

“Guitar started to become important around the late 1950s. Maybe I’ve got the chronology wrong here, but I seem to remember the first single I bought was The Shadows’ Man Of Mystery and I thought it had an intriguing sound. I still think the melody is good – that descending sequence. I started buying just about every Shadows record I could, and many years later I met Hank Marvin and told him that was the first record I ever bought. He was very modest about it and very gentlemanly. It was refreshing to meet him. He was self-effacing and it was really quite extraordinary to meet my hero. The guitar sounded like that at that stage; guitars hadn’t learned to scream and sustain and rip and do all those slash and burn things until a little bit later.”

Wild Blues Yonder

“Bluesmen were doing this thing: Muddy Waters and Little Walter playing harmonica. Sonically, they’d already developed what rock was to do a decade later. They were way ahead of the white guys. I can’t stress the importance of that. Yet it was a marginalised music. I guess it’s not a case of being right, it’s a case of being right at the right time. But luckily, of course, due to The Beatles and The Stones mainly and the bluesmen and the blues bands that were to follow, a light was shone on those great luminaries themselves and many of them were able to forge second-string careers. The very things that they were disqualified for having done at one point, suddenly they’re being applauded for. But isn’t that life?”

The Green Party

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