Stephen Richard Hackett (born 12 February 1950) is a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. He gained prominence as a member of the British progressive rock group Genesis, which he joined in 1970. Hackett remained with the band for eight albums before leaving in 1977 to pursue a solo career.
In 1986, Hackett co-founded the supergroup GTR with another progressive guitarist, Steve Howe of Yes and Asia. The group released a self-titled album that year, which peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200 in the United States and spawned the Top 20 single "When the Heart Rules the Mind". When Hackett left GTR in 1987, the group disbanded.
After leaving GTR, Hackett resumed his solo career and has released albums and toured on a regular basis since. His body of work has encompassed many styles, such as progressive rock, world music, and classical. His playing has influenced guitarists such as Alex Lifeson and Brian May.
Steve Hackett's earliest professional playing experience came with two bands — Canterbury Glass and Sarabande — both of whom performed rock with progressive elements. His first recording work came in 1970, as a member of Quiet World, a band that included younger brother John Hackett on flute. The group released one album, The Road, but Hackett departed the group soon after.
Hackett, seeking a new band, placed an ad in Melody Maker. The ad, in which Hackett stated he was seeking musicians "determined to strive beyond existing stagnant music forms," was spotted by Genesis vocalist Peter Gabriel, who contacted Hackett. The band had recently lost founding member Anthony Phillips. After seeing Genesis perform, Hackett auditioned for the group and joined in December 1970.
Hackett's first recording with Genesis was Nursery Cryme, released in November 1971. Hackett made an immediate impact on the group's sound, as evidenced by his work on such songs as "The Musical Box" and "The Return of the Giant Hogweed," becoming one of the first guitarists to experiment with the tapping technique normally attributed to Eddie Van Halen. According to "Legends of Rock Guitar" (book). Hal Leonard Corporation. 1997, Hackett has often claimed Van Halen told him he learned the technique after attending a Genesis concert in the early 1970's. The continuo part in the latter song sounds like a synthesizer because of distortion and because of his legato tapping technique as well as Tony Banks's simultaneous Hohner Pianet continuo. Although Nursery Cryme was not a commercial success, 1972's album Foxtrot was, reaching #12 in the UK. Included on Foxtrot was Hackett's classical guitar composition "Horizons," which quickly became one of his signature pieces.
Foxtrot began a trend of increasing commercial popularity for Genesis, and in the group's 1973 effort, Selling England by the Pound, Hackett showed continued and perfected use of the tapping technique, as well as sweep picking, which was popularised in the 1980s by Yngwie Malmsteen. Both of these techniques can be heard on the track "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight." The track "Firth of Fifth" contains one of Hackett's most well-known guitar solos. The track has remained a favourite in concert, even after Hackett's departure.
In 1975, Hackett became the first member of Genesis to release a solo album when he issued Voyage of the Acolyte. Assisting with the recording were Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford.
Hackett remained with Genesis through the conclusion of the Wind & Wuthering tour, but announced his departure on 8 October 1977, one week before the release of the group's second live album, Seconds Out.
Hackett's first post-Genesis album was Please Don't Touch, released in 1978. As with Voyage of the Acolyte, much of the material on the album was in the style of progressive rock. It did contain, however, much more vocal work. Hackett, who had never sung lead on a Genesis song, turned over most of the vocals to a number of singers, including folk singer Richie Havens, R&B singer Randy Crawford, and Steve Walsh of Kansas.
A pair of progressive rock albums followed—1979's Spectral Mornings and 1980's Defector. They were both Top 40 albums in the UK, while they charted #138 and #144 in the United States, respectively. Hackett toured Europe for the first time as a solo act in 1979, and in August performed at the Reading Festival. The Defector tour brought him to the United States for the first time since his last tour with Genesis.
Hackett's first major shift in musical style came with 1981's Cured. Although the album contained some of the progressive and classical pieces for which Hackett was known, it also showcased a much more pop approach. The album was recorded without most of the musicians who had been on Hackett's solo albums since Spectral Mornings (Hackett handled all lead vocal duties). Only longtime collaborators Nick Magnus and John Hackett remained. While Cured did not chart highly in the U.S., it peaked at #15 in the UK, Hackett's highest charting yet.
In the 1980s, Hackett released his first classical guitar albums Bay of Kings and Momentum, which further enhanced his reputation. The tour for Momentum drew large crowds in Europe, considered unusual for a classical guitarist.
On the rock production side, Hackett's work in the 1980s involve the LPs Cured (1981), Highly Strung (1982) and Till We Have Faces (1984). In Highly Strung, more than a nuance of electronic sound appears, making the album unique and unrepeated in Hackett's production, and surely one of the most difficult to approach. Till We Have Faces merges Hackett style sounds with Brazilian percussion.
In 1986, Hackett formed the supergroup GTR with then-former Yes and Asia guitarist Steve Howe, and produced by Yes/Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes. The group released a gold-selling album. Hackett soon left, GTR, and resumed his solo career, releasing a plethora of both electric and acoustic based albums throughout the 90s to the present day. One of his most memorable recordings was the neo-classical influenced A Midsummer Night's Dream, which showcases his guitar skills, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Steve's younger brother John was involved as flute player and second guitarist in his 1970s bands, and has often appeared as musician and collaborator on his more recent work, particularly on Sketches of Satie (2000), arranged for flute and guitar.
Group Career (1970s)
With Quiet World (1970)
* The Road (1970)
With Genesis (1970–77)
* Nursery Cryme (1971) * Foxtrot (1972) * Genesis Live (1973) * Selling England by the Pound (1973) * The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974) * A Trick of the Tail (1976) * Wind & Wuthering (1976) * Spot the Pigeon (EP, 1977) * Seconds Out (1977) * Three Sides Live (1982, appears on "It/Watcher of the Skies") * Genesis Archive 1967-75 (1998) * Turn It on Again: The Hits (1999, "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" and "The Carpet Crawlers 1999") * Genesis Archive 2: 1976-1992 (2000, "Entangled (Live)," "It's Yourself," "Pigeons," and "Inside and Out") * The Platinum Collection (2004)
With GTR (1986–87)
* GTR (1986) * King Biscuit Flower Hour (1997) * Greatest Hits Live (2003)
Solo career (1970s–present)
* Voyage of the Acolyte (1975; #26 UK, #191 US) * Please Don't Touch (1978; #38 UK, #103 US) * Spectral Mornings (1979; #22 UK, #138 US) * Defector (1980; #9 UK; #144 US) * Cured (1981; #15 UK, #169 US) * Highly Strung (1983) * Bay of Kings (1983) * Till We Have Faces (1984) * Momentum (1988) * Guitar Noir (1993) * Blues With A Feeling (1994) * Genesis Revisited (1996, Japan-only release) * Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited (1997) * A Midsummer Night's Dream (1997) * Darktown (1999) * Sketches of Satie (2000) (with John Hackett) * Feedback 86 (2000) * To Watch the Storms (2003) * Metamorpheus (2005) * Wild Orchids (2006) * Tribute (2008)
* Time Lapse (1991) * There Are Many Sides to the Night (1995) * The Tokyo Tapes (1996) * Live Archive 70, 80, 90's (2001) * Live Archive 70s Newcastle (2001) * Somewhere in South America... (2002) * Hungarian Horizons (2002) * Live Archive NEARfest (2003) * Live Archive 03 (2004) * Live Archive 04 (2004) * Live Archive 05 (2005) * Live Archive 83 (2006)
* The Unauthorised Biography (1992) * Genesis Files (2002)
Related GMC Lessons