Guitar virtuoso Steve Hackett comes to the Westhampton Beach Performing Art Center on Sunday, November 8, rocking the audience with a mix of material from his Genesis days and his flourishing solo career over the course of the three-hour show.
“Music basically keeps me young,” says Hackett on the longevity of his career, which took off when he joined the English rock band Genesis in 1971, contributing his guitar prowess to such albums as the acclaimed Foxtrot (1972) and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974). He has since embarked on a solo career and is currently in the middle of an international tour that begins its U.S. run in Westhampton Beach.
Hackett estimates that he has completed 60 albums over his career, including about 25 studio albums. As much as he enjoyed being a part of Genesis, Hackett has preferred focusing on his solo career. “In a group, you really need everyone’s permission to move forward,” he says. “I think that people who write and care about all the detail and the things they do orient toward a solo career because in the end, if you really care about it, you’ve got to have autonomy, the ability to get your vision across.”
Hackett created his debut solo album, Voyage of the Acolyte in 1975, while still a member of Genesis. His latest, Wolflight, released this past March, is one of his favorites “because the feel of it is so cinematic,” Hackett says. “[It has a] worldly music aspect. It’s got as much to do with folk music and Arabian music and Middle Eastern music as it has to do with rock, so it’s pretty exotic and diverse,” he continues.
Hackett took to music at an early age, citing his father as his biggest influence. “I was trying to be like him from the age of 2 onward,” he says. “I was trying to play harmonica tunes, and it was my father who first introduced me to guitar. He brought me one back from Canada in 1958 and I haven’t really looked back since.
“There’s a certain amount of harmonica playing in my guitar playing, even now. There’s a certain tone I aim for that sounds a little bit like a whiney, amplified harmonica that I just adore.”
Hackett was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010. However, he realized his greatest accomplishment while watching John Lennon and violinist Yehudi Menuhin argue with each other on a British TV show. “I can’t remember what the argument was about, but I’ve been lucky to have had the ear of both of them,” he says of the two famous musicians. Lennon gave an interview in 1973 saying that Genesis was one of the bands he was listening to; and Menuhin used one of Hackett’s solo songs in a film he was making. “So you’ve got two guys disagreeing violently about the things they believe in [on the TV show], and I’ve had the ear of both of them, at least for five minutes, and that is a precious accolade for me, to straddle both worlds,” Hackett says. “I’m lucky. There aren’t too many people who get away with that.”
Hackett has been writing songs since 1969, and he keeps ideas and notes in a book that he describes as “a gigantic jigsaw filled with all sorts of things that are looking for homes. All my ideas are orphaned. They’re all looking for parents, looking for families. They get joined up later, that’s the plan.” Fulfilling that goal, Hackett’s dream is to continue making music for the rest of his life.
“I’ve been blessed with extraordinary good genes from my family. I had an uncle who lived until he was 108,” Hackett says. His uncle was reported to be the oldest ex-service man from the first World War. “I hope to still be doing this when I’m his age, and I hope it’s a rock show, so I’ll probably be deaf by then anyway…. Hopefully the fingers will still
Steve Hackett comes to Westhampton Beach Performing Art Center, 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, on November 8 at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, call 631-288-1500 or visit whbpac.org.