by Regis Boff
I have had many “best friends” in my life and they never shared one another. This is a rider on my contract with the rest of the world I guess.
Phil was my best friend for years.
He is an ordinary guy save for the talent part. He was not crafty enough then to be otherwise now. I loved the other members of the band but he was the one I got stoned with. We would hunt for hippies in the early seventies to cop grass or psychedelic mushrooms from. We did this all through Canada, the US, and Europe. Some asshole once sold us mushrooms soaking in a plastic bag. We were happy until It turned out they were from a can made by Green Giant. More fool us.
We were arrested coming out of Canada at customs. He had some grass and I had a tiny Meerschaum pipe with marijuana residue in it. We were frightened. We sat in jail. As we were released the agent held the pipe in front of my face and snapped it in half. The Canadian Government had to release us to allow the tour to continue. It was not a good time to be busted. I still miss that pipe and have bad thoughts about that cop.
We would sneak out to find hamburgers after the show ended. No small task in the places we played. The others were all vegetarians so there wasn’t anything to eat backstage. Vegetables were different back then. All their food was brown like mud. The cooks expected no digestion would be necessary. They never wavered from this diet. Nor did we.
We made the promoters provide us with “Blue Nun”, a shitty german white wine which even today releases Nazi based scorn from me when I see the label.
I listened to Phil bitch forever about not being in “Earth, Wind, and Fire”. Genesis was never his kind of music. They didn’t let him sing and perform. He stowed away his rhythms for later. He did have a great song he performed while holding a now-famous mechanical monkey. It was darling. That same monkey was in “Close Encounters of a Third Kind”. It had a tidy little career. I think Spielberg stole the idea from him.
My guess is he turned Genesis into Earth, Wind, and Fire” after Peter left. But I am more vindictive than him. So this might not be the case.
I was the highest paid employee of Genesis at that time. I handed them a per diem each week. All their money from the shows was plowed back into the elaborate production. Most shows, in the beginning, came nowhere near selling out. Profit meant we could get to the next show. He came to me nearly in tears one morning in Europe because he had fallen asleep while on phone with his wife in Canada ( or maybe girlfriend, I can’t remember). He couldn’t pay the bill.
Mostly we traveled by rented car, never by bus like most bands seem to. Sometimes in Europe even by trains. Their young children came too. I always drove as did Phil and Mike. Peter Gabriel was not a good driver. He wasn’t a linear thinker enough to manage the A to B nature of a car. That said, Peter did save our lives one day when I fell asleep and he grabbed the wheel from me. I always denied this happened. American men can’t admit to that kind of shit. It was true though.
Jill Gabriel had a big accident while driving on ice in one of the Dakota”s. She was skidding out of control and I yelled, ” don’t step on the brakes” of course causing her to use both feet to hit them. The car spun and slammed into a snow wall. We all forgot the baby in the back. All except Phil who saved her.
I hit a taxicab circling in a crowded roundabout in Madrid. Just Phil and I. We were in a brand new Range Rover rented for the entire tour. The little cab was crumpled rather decently. No one was hurt but every Spaniard in the vicinity converged fiercely on us hesitating only because most had not brought their knives and I am big. Suddenly someone yelled ” Genesis ” with their wonderful pronunciation. They became fans before our eyes. The band was big in Madrid. We gave them all tickets.
There are no better fans than Genesis fans. We needed help filling up a venue somewhere in America and hired Lou Reed, a real badass to open. His fans beat up our entire audience. Our fans were smart and gentle.
We saw The Alamo for the first time together. It had a profound effect on him. We always booked shows close to it. I hear that through the years he has bought most of it.
He fired me from the stage while on mike after I caused the ruin of an entire show, ( See “Rock’s Most Embarrassing Moment”.) I survived but the event shook me and I nevermore involved myself in production. I stuck to the money. It changed my trajectory.
I didn’t see him again after Peter left until one Madison Square Garden show years and years later. I never return willingly to the past, as mentioned, it is part of some subconscious understanding. I did it for my kid’s sake. He treated my children like his own. He was still my friend and I his.