Peter Gabriel, Genesis, and the Insult
by Regis Boff
It would be hard to argue I didn’t have fun touring with rock bands. Better phrased, I had the best life of anybody ever.
This career success made me a competent specialist in people who do not evacuate their jealousies quickly. Except for right here and right now, I have mostly remained silent about my life. It is compassion in my particular Buddhist way.
I know I can relieve people of their envious distress if I want to, but two of my substantial character flaws get in the way. Firstly, I am Irish, so forgiveness is uncommon inside me after an insult of any kind.
With me, “Well, fuck you then,” can surprise people by its permanence.
I don’t fight little wars.
One such battle occurred with Peter Gabriel and me on my first tour with Genesis. I was their tour manager for a very long time. Peter and I left the band at the same time. His departure had more impact.
In his defense, I wasn’t very good at the job. I was always lost, particularly in Europe.
I was also assumed to be in charge of our road crew. England’s maritime captains had been throwing guys like these, unconscious, into their ships against their wills as crew for five hundred years. These dumb fuckers did the job with Genesis willingly.
I was the only American, and I traveled with the band, not them, which did not sit well.
The English have a fixed internal caste system that India copied to invent Hinduism. The crew figured they could abuse me because I did not fit with the band, who, except for Phil Collins, was severely upper-class.
They also knew I grasped nothing about setting up the sound gear for the shows.
In those days, the Genesis sound equipment looked like a million home stereo hookups. There were thousands of wires, and only one guy knew how to plug it all in. We will call him ” Nick.”
Now Nick took a particular interest in me. He never listened and openly mocked me for much of my first tour through Europe. He knew he was more valuable than me to the band.
One afternoon during a soundcheck in Spain, he threw a balled-up strip of gaffer tape at me, which I dodged, but in doing so, I hit my head on the hinge on a door.
I don’t remember if he was unconscious, but because it was an uppercut, I saw both his feet leave the floor.
He quit and gave the band an ultimatum that it was “him or me.”
Peter called me into the dressing room to ” discuss it.”
On a good day, talking to Peter was exhausting. None of the crucial parts of his face played well together. His most critical thoughts spent most of their time trying to locate his mouth. We didn’t know each other that well then, which did not help. Having worked with mostly English bands, I got how insecure emotionally the entire island is. It was always my advantage.
I appreciated what I had done. Nick was powerful, and his leaving put the shows in jeopardy, but I resented Peter for even trying to discuss their choice with me.
I don’t pretend this story has held your interest, but this is where it turns cute.
I, in so many words, told Peter to go “fuck himself.” Gabriel, now confronted with emotion out in the open, did Lord knows what after I stormed out.
In the background, one crew member, out of a little known Texas sound company called SHOWCO, who had a low-level job moving equipment around offered that he knew how to connect all our shit.
We put this guy in a room with all our gear, and in one day, he rewired everything—Goodbye, old Nick.
Postscript: I stayed. Gabriel and I became close friends, and I, the godfather of his first child.
Showco, over my long career, made millions from my friendship.
A road crew never rechallenged me.