Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett is an English classical/rock guitarist with a career in music that dates back to 1970. He rose to prominence as a member of Genesis between 1971 and 1977, during which time he played on six of the band’s studio albums: Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, A Trick of the Tail, and Wind and Wuthering.

He released his first solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte, in 1975 while still a member of Genesis. After leaving the band, he resumed his solo career with 1978’s Please Don’t Touch. Since that time, he has released more than 20 solo albums.

Early Life

Steve Hackett was born in Pimlico, south central London on February 12, 1950, one day before his future Genesis bandmate Peter Gabriel. Hackett has a younger brother, John (b. 1955), who took up flute and collaborated with Steve on various projects over the years.

As a child, Hackett played recorder and harmonica. He took up guitar at age 12 and taught himself chord progressions and phrasing by playing along to his favorite guitarists. As a teenager, he was influenced by Peter Green, Danny Kirwan, Jimi Hendrix, and other players associated with the British blues rock movement.

In 1968, Hackett made his first recorded appearance on the track “Prologue” by London psych-rockers Canterbury Glass. The track went unreleased at the time but was finally acquitted four decades later on the archival disc Sacred Scenes and Characters.

In 1970, Steve and John joined Quiet World, a folk-psych band signed to Dawn. Though the brothers had begun writing, this band was directed by another set of brothers, John and Lea Heather, who wrote the songs with their non-performing third brother Neil. The Hackett’s are credited with guitar and harmonica (Steve) and acoustic guitar (John) on The Road, Quiet World’s singular album, issued that year. They left the band soon after its release.

In Genesis

In December 1970, Steve Hackett placed the following ad in the musicians classified section of Melody Maker: “Imaginative guitarist-writer seeks involvement with receptive musicians, determined to strive beyond existing stagnant music forms.” It was seen by Peter Gabriel, then vocalist of the up-and-coming Charisma act Genesis, which had recently lost their guitarist Anthony Phillips. At Gabriel’s suggestion, Hackett purchased their then-recent sophomore effort Trespass to grasp the challenge in advance. His now-developed playing style — a mix of classical, folk, and blues rock — instantly meshed with the band’s soft/heavy dynamics, from the pastoral sounds of “Dusk” to the hardened menace of “The Knife.” He played his first concert with Genesis at London’s City University on January 24, 1971.

Hackett’s first album with Genesis was Nursery Cryme, released in November 1971. His innovative tapping technique — later adopted by assorted metal guitarists — is heard on the side-one closing epic “The Return of the Giant Hogweed.” On the Mellotron-laden album closer “The Fountain of Salmacis,” his signature ghostly bends rise through the foggy layers of keyboardist Tony Banks.

Hackett got his first solo spot on a Genesis album with the acoustic classical-guitar instrumental “Horizons,” which appears on their 1972 release Foxtrot. At 1:41, it serves as a prelude to their 22-minute suite “Supper’s Ready.” He would further explore this style during his solo career, including the entirely of his 1983 release Bay of Kings, which features a reworked “Horizons.” The remaining material on Foxtrot is group-credited though one piece, the side-one closer “Can-Utility and the Coastliners,” was primarily composed by Hackett. It’s a through-composed number with oblique lyrics based on the legend of King Canute.

On the next Genesis studio album, the 1973 release Selling England by the Pound, Hackett contributed “After the Ordeal,” an instrumental tapestry of classical guitar and piano that breaks to a sequence of blues-based ghost bends in its final bars. At 4:15, it bisects the two epics of side two: the surreal gang-rivalry dramatization “Battle of Epping Forest” and the romantic obfuscation “Cinema Show.” Hackett had to fight tooth and nail to get his song included, marking the start of tensions between him and certain other members, particularly Banks, the band’s most dominant songwriter.

Also in 1973, Hackett appeared — along with Genesis drummer Phil Collins — on the Capitol/Sovereign release Two Sides of Peter Banks by ex-Yes/then-Flash guitarist Peter Banks. It was originally conceived as a collaborative effort between Banks and Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman, who plays on six numbers. Hackett plays on “Knights (reprise),” one of the few non-Akkerman cuts.

In November 1974, Genesis released The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, a thematic double-album that proved to be the last release from the band’s classic five-piece configuration. Hackett displays his avant-garde side on the instrumental “The Waiting Room,” a fractious, largely free-form piece developed under the working title “Evil Jam.” After an elaborate tour in support of this release, Gabriel left the band in May 1975. As Genesis contemplated its next move, Hackett used the downtime to record his first solo album.

Voyage of the Acolyte 

Steve Hackett released his debut solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte, in October 1975 on Charisma (Chrysalis in the US).

1. “Ace of Wands” (5:23)
2. “Hands of the Priestess, Part I” (3:28)
3. “A Tower Struck Down” Steve Hackett, John Hackett (4:53)
4. “Hands of the Priestess, Part II” (1:31)
5. “The Hermit” (4:49)

6. “Star of Sirius” (7:08)
7. “The Lovers” (1:50)
8. “Shadow of the Hierophant” Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford (11:44)

Producer Steve Hackett John Acock
Recorded June–July 1975
Studio Kingsway Recorders, Kingsway, London

Steve Hackett – acoustic & electric guitar, Mellotron, harmonium, autoharp, bells, effects, vocals (5)
John Acock – acoustic piano, Elka Rhasphody synthesizer, Mellotron, harmonium
John Hackett – ARP synthesizer, bells, flute
Mike Rutherford – fuzz 12-string guitar, bass guitar, bass pedals
Johnny Gustafson – bass guitar (6)
Percy Jones – additional bass guitar (3)
Phil Collins – drums, percussion, vibraphone, vocals (6)
Robin Miller – oboe (4, 5), English horn (6)
Nigel Warren-Green – cello (5)
Sally Oldfield – vocals (8)

Steve Hackett – producer, arrangements
John Acock – producer, engineer
Rob Broglia – assistant engineer
Paul Watkins – assistant engineer
Louie Austin – assistant engineer (8)
Tex Read – equipment
Geoff Banks – equipment
Steve Baker – equipment
Tony Smith – organization
Alex Sim – organization
Kim Poor – cover artwork

Please Don’t Touch

Steve Hackett released his second solo album, Please Don’t Touch, in April 1978 on Charisma and Chrysalis.

1. “Narnia” (4:05) – with Steve Walsh
2. “Carry On Up the Vicarage” (3:11)
3. “Racing in A” (5:07) – with Steve Walsh
4. “Kim” (2:13)
5. “How Can I?” (4:38) – featuring Richie Havens
6. “Hoping Love Will Last” (4:23) – featuring Randy Crawford
7. “Land of a Thousand Autumns” (1:38)
8. “Please Don’t Touch” (3:39)
9. “The Voice of Necam” (3:11)
10. “Icarus Ascending” (6:27) – featuring Richie Havens

Producer John Acock Steve Hackett
Recorded November 1977–February 1978
Studio Cherokee Studios
(Hollywood, California)
Kingsway Studios
(Wembley, London)
Record Plant
(New York City, New York)
De Lane Lea Studios
(Soho, London)

Steve Hackett – keyboards, Mellotron, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, Roland GR-500 guitar synthesizer, percussion, loops, effects, bells, backing vocals (1, 3, 9, 10), vocals (2)
John Acock – keyboards
John Hackett – keyboards, flute, piccolo, bass pedals
David LeBolt – keyboards
Tom Fowler – electric bass
Phil Ehart – drums (1, 3), percussion (1, 3)
Chester Thompson – drums (2, 4-10), percussion (2, 4-10)
James Bradley – percussion
Richie Havens – percussion
Hugh Malloy – cello
Graham Smith – violin

Guest singers
Steve Walsh – lead vocals (1, 3)
Richie Havens – lead vocals (5, 10)
Randy Crawford – lead vocals (6)
Maria Bonvino – guest female soprano (6)
Feydor – vocals (9)
Dale Newman – guest vocals (10)
Dan Owen – guest vocals (10)

Spectral Mornings

Steve Hackett released his third solo album, Spectral Mornings, in May 1979 on Charisma and Chrysalis.

1. “Every Day” (6:14)
2. “The Virgin and the Gypsy” (4:27)
3. “The Red Flower of Tachai Blooms Everywhere” (2:05)
4. “Clocks – The Angel of Mons” (4:17)
5. “The Ballad of the Decomposing Man (featuring “The Office Party“)” (3:49)

6. “Lost Time in Córdoba” (4:03)
7. “Tigermoth” (7:35)
8. “Spectral Mornings” (6:33)

Producer John Acock, Steve Hackett
Recorded January–February 1979
Studio Phonogram Studios, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Steve Hackett – electric and acoustic guitars, Roland GR-500 guitar synthesizer, lead vocals and harmonica on “The Ballad of the Decomposing Man”, harmony/backing vocals on “Every Day” and “The Virgin and the Gypsy”, koto on “The Red Flowers of Tachai Blooms Everywhere”
Pete Hicks – lead vocals on “Every Day”, “The Virgin and the Gypsy”, and “Tigermoth”
Dik Cadbury – bass guitar, harmony/backing vocals on “Every Day”, “The Virgin and the Gypsy”, and “Tigermoth”, Moog Taurus bass pedals, violin on “The Ballad of the Decomposing Man”
Nick Magnus – keyboards, Vox String Thing, Novatron, clavinet, Fender Rhodes & RMI electric pianos, Minimoog, Mini-Korg 700, Roland String Synth RS-202 & SH-2000, harpsichord on “The Virgin and the Gypsy”
John Hackett – flute, bamboo flute on “The Virgin and the Gypsy”, Moog Taurus bass pedals on “Clocks – The Angel of Mons”
John Shearer – drums, percussion


Steve Hackett released his fourth solo album, Defector, in June 1980 on Charisma and Mercury.

1. “The Steppes” (6:05)
2. “Time to Get Out” (4:11)
3. “Slogans” (3:46)
4. “Leaving” (3:16)
5. “Two Vamps as Guests” (1:58)

6. “Jacuzzi” (4:36)
7. “Hammer in the Sand” (3:11)
8. “The Toast” (3:42)
9. “The Show” (3:40)
10. “Sentimental Institution” (Steve Hackett, Peter Hicks) (2:44)

B. “Hercules Unchained” (B-side of “The Show”) (Steve Hackett, Peter Hicks) (2:44)

Producer Steve Hackett John Acock
Recorded Spring 1980
Studio Wessex Sound Studios(Highbury, London)

Steve Hackett – electric and acoustic guitars, harmony vocals on “Time to Get Out, The Toast”, backing vocals on “Leaving, The Show”, Optigan on “Sentimental Institution”, Roland GR-500 guitar synthesizer
Pete Hicks – lead vocals on “Time To Get Out, Leaving, The Toast, The Show”, vocals on “Sentimental Institution”
Dik Cadbury – bass guitar, Moog Taurus bass pedals, harmony/backing vocals on “Time To Get Out, Leaving, The Toast, The Show”
Nick Magnus – keyboards, Prophet 5, Clavinet, Fender Rhodes & RMI electric pianos, Novatron, Vox String Thing, Minimoog, Roland SH-2000, Roland Vp-330 Vocoder on “Slogans”, piano on “Hammer In The Sand”
John Hackett – concert and alto flute
John Shearer – drums, percussion

Steve Hackett – production
John Acock – production
Jed and Vince – gear
Kim Poor – insight and cover paintings, enamels, cover design
Kim and Kobz – cover design
Danny Padua – inner sleeve
Armando Gallo – collage photos
Gered Mankowitz – collage photos


Steve Hackett released his fifth solo album, Cured, in August 1981 on Charisma and Epic.

1. “Hope I Don’t Wake” (3:48)
2. “Picture Postcard” (3:55)
3. “Can’t Let Go” (5:43)
4 .”The Air-Conditioned Nightmare” (4:42)

5. “Funny Feeling” (Steve Hackett, Nick Magnus) (4:07)
6. “A Cradle of Swans” (2:49)
7. “Overnight Sleeper” (Steve Hackett, Kim Poor) (4:37)
8. “Turn Back Time” (4:23)

Producer John Acock, Steve Hackett, Nick Magnus
Steve Hackett – guitars, bass guitar, vocals
Nick Magnus – keyboards, LM-1 drum machine

Additional Guests
John Hackett – flute on “Overnight Sleeper”, bass pedals on “The Air-Conditioned Nightmare”
Bimbo Acock – saxophone on “Picture Postcard”
1981 UK Album Charts 22

Highly Strung

Steve Hackett released his sixth solo album, Highly Strung, in April 1983 on Charisma and Epic.

1. “Camino Royale” (Hackett, Magnus) – 5:28)
2. “Cell 151” (6:25)
3. “Always Somewhere Else” (4:02)
4. “Walking Through Walls” (3:48)
5. “Give It Away” (4:08)
6. “Weightless” (3:31)
7. “Group Therapy” (5:47)
8. “India Rubber Man” (2:31)
9. “Hackett to Pieces” (Hackett, Magnus) – 2:40)

Producer John Acock and Steve Hackett
Recorded February–November 1982
Studio Berry Street Studios, Marcus Music, and Redan Recorders in London

Steve Hackett – guitars, harmonica, vocals
Chris Lawrence – contrabass
Nigel Warren-Green – cello
Nick Magnus – keyboards, vocoder, producer, engineering
John Acock – synthesisers, engineering
Ian Mosley – drums


  • Voyage of the Acolyte (1975)
  • Please Don’t Touch (1978)
  • Spectral Mornings (1979)
  • Defector (1980)
  • Cured (1981)
  • Highly Strung (1983)
  • Bay of Kings (1983)
  • Till We Have Faces (1984)
  • Momentum (1988)
  • Guitar Noir (1993)
  • Blues with a Feeling (1994)
  • Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited (1996)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1997)
  • Darktown (1999)
  • Feedback 86 (2000 — recorded 1986)
  • To Watch the Storms (2003)
  • Metamorpheus (2005)
  • Wild Orchids (2006)
  • Tribute (2008)
  • Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth (2009)
  • Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (2011)
  • Genesis Revisited II (2012)
  • Wolflight (2015)
  • The Night Siren (2017)


1 thought on “Steve Hackett

  1. Hackett’s first four albums are always the charm — the Trick/Wind-styled Voyage of the Acolyte; the eclectic mix of symphonic epics, folksy ballads, and blazing instrumentals on Please Don’t Touch; and the alternately quirky/mannered variety of Spectral Mornings and Defector — the last two a spiritual double album. Beyond that, the hi-tech Highly Strung is rich and varied, as are later high-points such as Guitar Noirand Darktown, which respectively show him rising above the ’90s and arriving at the new millennium in trademark form.

    Kudos to anyone else who’s already made similar points.

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