The classic prog rock bands of the 1970’s are better known for composing sprawling symphonies than for writing hit songs; but some of the great pop songwriters of our time came out of prog rock, three of them were members of Genesis: Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and bass player Mike Rutherford.
Apart from being a masterful bassist, Rutherford is also a strong pop songwriter, the author of several hits: Land of Confusion, Follow You Follow Me (with Genesis) The Living Years and All I Need Is A Miracle (Mike + The Mechanics). Also a deft guitarist, Rutherford’s writing favors fluid, melodic phrases and pumping anthemic chord progressions.
For rock and pop music Rutherford usually sticks to a Rickenbacker bass. He tends to explore the upper registers, weaving complex melodic lines that compliment what his band mates are doing instead of drawing attention to himself. He can also lay down classic powerhouse rock bass lines (Why Me? Mike + the Mechanics; Turn It On Again, Genesis). He has been known to make discreet use of a fretless bass on occasion. After the Rick, his go-to bass is a custom Shergold. During the 80’s his ax of choice was an M-series Steinberger, which he contributed design ideas for. As a guitarist, Rutherford roams further afield, playing steel and nylon stringed guitars (six and twelve string), double-neck, dobro, and hollow body “jazz” guitar, often experimenting with alternate tuning (especially with Genesis); he usually employs a Clapton Model Fender Stratocaster for leads.
Whether blending in seamlessly in a band as a bassist or guitarist or penning strong pop songs, the hallmark of Mike Rutherford’s career has been variety.