“Wearing feelings on our faces when our faces took a rest,” Peter Gabriel… Genesis, 1972.
by Regis Boff
I spent five or six years touring the world with these people. They were my only constant friends, all of us in our early twenties. They had their dreams, and I had no idea who I was or why I was even there. I was never positive what a tour manager was.
Nobody was famous or had any money.
We played high school gymnasiums and any open spaces with a stage and a box office. I sometimes used a handheld clicker to count the punters as they came in so the promoter couldn’t cheat us.
In America, we would hang long drapes across the floor, cutting the space in half so we could pretend we never meant to sell out the entire gym in hopes the music reviewers might be tricked.
Their records weren’t played on the radio because the songs were too long. It was my job to prevent videos like the one below from being recorded. Such is my distinguished legacy. There are many of these.
When in Europe, they knew I was lost all the time, but they covered for me. I had a big briefcase filled with money. I passed through border after border every day while desperately trying to calculate exchange rates. The currencies looked like five-year-olds painted them. It took twenty million Italian Lira to buy a pack of cigarettes and one German Deutsche Mark to buy Italy.
In America, I booked tours for them that hit every National Monument and tourist site over and over again. We always drove, sometimes trains in Europe but rarely flew. No money.
Phil Collins and I saw The Alamo in Texas for the first time together. Since then, I hear he bought most of it.
We got busted for residue in Canada and fell in love with each other. Everyone did this in the early seventies.
No band played more shows in those years. We seldom had an opening act. We tried using Lou Reed once for a show we could not sell at all in Detroit, but his audience beat up our audience before the show even started.
They would stop touring only to record a new album. When that happened, I was out of a job.
After my first tour, I went back home to live with my parents in Pittsburgh to wait. Later I stayed with them in England, sleeping on floors or in their parent’s houses.
The band’s manager, Tony Smith, called me often that first summer from England to play me new tracks as they recorded them in the studio on our landline phone. My mother and I stood ear to ear in the kitchen, listening. She did not get it at all.
We played bullrings in Spain and bicycle racing rinks with sloping walls in Italy. The political revolutionaries would take over the stages in France and Portugal, and we would stand aside until they had given their speeches. At times the army would do our security.
Genesis audiences were smart and sweet and loyal to this day.
We had car accidents and fights. We were growing up, and I wasn’t very good at my job. I caused the biggest embarrassment in rock history, and I nearly got fired for knocking out the sound technician with a solid punch, not because they liked him more but because he quit afterward, and nobody else knew how to plug all the shit in.
I got the responsibility of being the godfather to Peter Gabriel’s daughter. I failed at that.
When the band eventually broke up, none of us knew what to do. I think we said goodbye. You might expect I would remember that.
I don’t recall ever knowing what to do next.