Here’s how Genesis’ ‘The Musical Box’ gave rise to Eddie Van Halen

Share this:

Steve Hackett joined Genesis in time to make some influential contributions on Nursery Cryme, released in November 1971 as Genesis’ first project with the classic five-piece lineup. The album would reach the Top 40 in England and shoot into the Top 5 elsewhere on the strength of standout tracks like “The Musical Box.”

“When I joined the band, the song ‘The Musical Box’ was already written,” Hackett tells us, in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “They were performing it live. They said to me: ‘As soon as you join the band, we’ll share all of the writing.’ So, I came up with guitar parts on top of what they had written.”

Guitar parts that would alter the course of electric guitar history in the person of Eddie Van Halen.

Originally an instrumental by the newly departed Anthony Phillips, “The Musical Box” eventually emerged as a band collaboration with lyrics based on a Victorian fairy tale courtesy of Peter Gabriel and a eye-popping turn by Steve Hackett. Aiming to impress his new bandmates, the guitarist fashioned a completely new sound through the use of a new fretboard technique — now simply known as “tapping” — that later reached a broad audience through Van Halen’s fiery soloing.

“I was trying to come up with something suitable,” Hackett adds. “I thought: ‘I wonder if it is possible to use both hands on the fretboard?’ You could play extremely fast on one string. I quickly realized that the sky’s the limit for anyone who wants to use that technique. Eddie [Van Halen] has, of course, acknowledged the influence. I came up with the technique, and he gave it a name.”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close