He has stated that his compositions are still influenced by them. Hackett also has cited numerous British blues artists as influences, namely Danny Kirwan, Peter Green, and various guitarists in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.
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, who had very little on-stage playing experience when he joined Genesis, had some initial difficulty performing with the group. But he soon settled into his role, and his unique stage image (wearing glasses and seated in a hunched position over his guitar) served as a counter to Gabriel's extravagant costumes and theatrics.
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. (Hackett has often claimed Van Halen told him he learned the technique after attending a Genesis concert in the early 1970s.) 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 1984 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.
During the recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in 1974, Hackett's contribution shrank from what he had originally contributed on Selling England by the Pound. He attributed his lack of contribution to be that of not being able to come to grips with the material presented, and his failing marriage. Additionally, Hackett injured his hand after accidentally crushing a wine glass, which led to the delay of the Lamb tour. This additionally reflected the tension within the band.
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 enjoyed the freedom he had when writing and recording his own album, and thus began to become frustrated after returning to the group's more democratic approach to songwriting.
Hackett's frustration increased as Genesis prepared to release 1976's Wind & Wuthering. Hackett was insistent that more of his material be included on the album, but was rebuffed. "Blood on the Rooftops," which Hackett wrote with Collins, made the album but was never played live, and his composition "Please Don't Touch" was rejected completely. Another song, "Inside and Out," was relegated to the Spot the Pigeon EP. 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. He did provide lead vocals for "Carry on Up the Vicarage," but they were processed using a "laughing gnome" vocal effect. The album peaked at #38 on the UK charts and #103 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart in the United States.
A pair of progressive rock albums followed: 1979's Spectral Mornings (#22 UK Album Chart) and 1980's Defector (#9 UK Album Chart, 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 final 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.
In the 1980s, Hackett released his first classical guitar albums, Bay of Kings (#70 UK Album Chart) and Momentum, which further enhanced his reputation. The tour for Momentum drew large crowds in Europe, considered unusual for a classical guitarist.
In 1983 Hackett participated on the Best Selling album British/Brazilian singer Ritchie in his Best Selling Brazilian LP "Voo de Coração". Hackett played guitar on various tracks, and most songs on the LP were huge hits on Brazilian Radio.
On the rock production side, Hackett's work in the 1980s involved the LPs Cured (1981), Highly Strung (1983, #16 UK Album Chart) and Till We Have Faces (1984, #54 UK Album Chart). 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 veteran Yes and Asia guitarist Steve Howe. The group released a gold-selling album, produced by Yes/Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes. Hackett soon left GTR over financial and management squabbles. In addition to Howe and Downes, Hackett has also worked with Yes drummer Bill Bruford in Genesis, Yes bassist Chris Squire (Chris Squire's Swiss Choir, 2007) and briefly Yes vocalist Trevor Horn (who produced the 1999 reunion version of "The Carpet Crawlers"). Hackett's long-time keyboadist, Julian Colbeck, played live with Yes spin-off Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe.
Hackett's solo career continued, 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 and the album spent several weeks in the Top 10 of the UK classical charts.
In June 2009, Steve announced a new solo album featuring contributions of many artists, including former Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips.
The album which was due for release mid October 2009 and called Out of the Tunnel's Mouth was delayed due to legal reasons, but was eventually on sale from November 2009, and some songs were performed on the European tour.
In August 2009, the official, authorised biography 'Sketches Of Hackett' by Alan Hewitt was published by Wymer Publishing. The first edition hardback includes a bonus DVD with a 90 minute interview filmed early in the year at Steve's home.
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.
Hackett was born in Pimlico, London and attended the Sloane Grammar School, Chelsea.
He grew up having access to various musical instruments, such as the recorder and harmonica, but did not develop an interest in the guitar until the age of twelve, when he started playing single notes. By fourteen, he was learning chords and experimenting with chord progressions, although he never received any formal instruction. Hackett's earliest musical influences were classical (Johann Sebastian Bach) and opera (Mario Lanza).