Foxtrot 50: the birth of “Watcher Of The Skies” in Italy - the MEMORY of the BAND

On 6 October 1972 Genesis released the album "Foxtrot". Here are some steps towards the birthday.

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April 1972, Genesis arrived in Italy, the country that first understood their music. Two stages of that adventure will remain in the history of the group, because Watcher Of The Skies was born here.

The date of Reggio Emilia on April 12th, in fact it is officially considered the  birthplace of Watcher Of The Skies.

According to the memories of Hackett, Rutherford and the others present, it was precisely in the Emilian city that an embryonic version of the unforgettable piece was performed for the first time during sound check.

Palasport of Reggio Emilia from the Facebook page "Genesis 40th anniversary first Italian tour"

«In the Palasport of Reggio Emilia, a huge horrible place full of echo, in the middle of the sound check, Tony played those two initial chords on his mellotron. They worked very well even though, even today, I'm not sure how aware he was of how good they were. " (From The Living Years by Mike Rutherford. My translation)

In the tour to present Nursery Cryme, Genesis took advantage of free time and also of the rehearsals on stage to compose parts of songs that would later form the Foxtrot album. 

Richard Macphail in My Book of Genesis tells how Genesis composes the album. Rich remembers that Tony Banks officially stated that there are many pieces which were then glued together:

«It was a normal thing in Genesis. Some of the pieces were composed of fragments written by individual members and the problem was how to adapt them. In Supper's Ready, for example, Willow Farm, is in A flat major, it was supposed to lead to a small flute melody in A minor. So we had to work hard to harmonize the different agreements. Sometimes it's a completely natural change and it happened without our realizing it. "

Mino Profumo in Genesis in Italy. The concerts 1972-1975 he says that the keeper of the sports hall remembers "Watcher Of The Skies' notes emerge clearly during the soundcheck."


Perfume recalls that "It is indeed a work in progress like confirmation without hesitation Steve Hackett: “In reality Watcher Of The Skies was not composed exactly on the occasion of the rehearsals for the Reggio Emilia concert, we had already prepared a very rough and a little different version but it can be said that we played it almost completely and for the first time during that soundcheck. I remember that I was in the bathroom, in the basement of the sports hall, I heard the intro and the whole structure began to tremble, they were magnificent and powerful notes. The whole group followed the execution and it was at that moment that, at least for me, in my imagination the band sounded like and more than an orchestra "».

And quote the words of the promoter Maurizio Salvadori: "" I remember that every now and then they made improvisations in the soundchecks, even half an hour and they put in things just tried, I think they also did the reaction of people who were always appreciable. They tried a preview of a couple of pieces that they would later insert into the next disc. ”»



From Reggio Emilia the song is used for the sound check before the concerts. Even not all of them the people present at the concert noticed that a historical song was being born on that stage. There were also other details that attracted attention. It reminds Horizons Radio Raimondo Vecchi Fossa. "The stage was turned towards the high grandstand and not towards the audience as for the other concerts and it surprised me a lot. Gabriel with the rear window of hair performed as the first song Happy The Man that I had and I still have like 45 rpm. "

On April 19th Genesis are live at the Mediterranean Theater of Naples.

A double concert that closes the first part of the Nursery cryme Tour of Genesis in Italy.

A second stop in this Genesis story, because on the roof of the Hotel Domitiana, which houses the band, Mike and Tony write the text of Watcher Of The Sky. From the hotel terrace, in fact, you can see the whole complex of the Mostra d'Oltremare, the Arena Flegrea and the Mediterranean Theater, a foreign body with respect to the city, which could give the impression of a landscape of an unknown planet.

Here is the memory of Tony Banks in Genesis: I Know What I Like di Armando Gallo:

“We were sitting on top of this building, it was a warm sunny day and we were just looking out across a large area of ​​buildings and fields; there was not a living soul around. It seemed that the entire population had just deserted the planet and this is what 'Watcher of the Skies' says: an alien being who comes to the planet and sees it completely deserted. And so the story unfolds with a bit of science fiction. I like Arthur Clarke's 'Childhood's End' and books like that. "

And of Mike Rutherford in The living years (Trans. G. Testani):

«Tony and I together wrote the text, sitting on the roof of our hotel in Naples imagining that the world was over. Quite strange, considering it was a pleasantly sunny day. "

 In Naples, therefore, the song is completed and, as we know, the next Genesis album will open, to be released the following October: Foxtrot.

But in his autobiography, Mike tells another background, which happened in Naples:

«In Naples we discovered another therapeutic pastime ... Concluding a tour with a group fight was a classic. The unusual thing about the quarrel-of-end-tour in Naples was that there was an amusement park just around the corner from the hotel where we slept. We got to the point of being so fed up with each other that we decided that the only thing to do was to throw ourselves on the bumper car track and bump into each other wildly and repeatedly. I have to say that I have never experienced such an effective way to clarify. "

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Read other memories here:

The genesis of the GENESIS

When Naples became the muse of the Genesis

The former Hotel Domitiana, now JFK.

Here is the audio of the live in Naples:


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