I would think that most fans of Genesis have a fairly good idea of how they formed, but it's worth repeating for anyone who isn't aware of how they all met at Chaterhouse School, with the original line-up of the band, Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Anthony 'Ant' Phillips, Mike Rutherford, and drummer Chris Stewart, meeting at the public school in Godalming, Surrey. Banks and Gabriel arrived at the school in September 1963, Rutherford in September 1964, and Phillips in April 1965, and all five played in two of school's bands; Phillips and Rutherford were in Anon with singer Richard Macphail, bassist Rivers Jobe, and drummer Rob Tyrrell, while Gabriel, Banks, and Stewart made up Garden Wall. In January 1967, after both groups had split, Phillips and Rutherford continued to write together and proceeded to make a demo tape at a friend's home-made studio, inviting Banks, Gabriel, and Stewart to record with them in the process. The group recorded six songs: 'Don't Want You Back', 'Try A Little Sadness', 'She's Beautiful', 'That's Me', 'Listen On Five', and 'Patricia', an instrumental. They wanted to have them professionally recorded and so they sought out Charterhouse alumnus Jonathan King, who seemed a natural choice as their publisher and producer following the success of his 1965 UK top five single 'Everyone's Gone To The Moon'. After a friend of the group gave the tape to King, he was immediately enthusiastic about becoming involved, and under King's direction, the group, still only aged between 15 and 17, signed a one-year recording contract with Decca Records. From August to December 1967 they recorded a selection of potential singles at Regent Sound Studios on Denmark Street, attempting longer and more complex compositions, but King advised them to stick to more straightforward pop songs. In response. Banks and Gabriel wrote 'The Silent Sun', a pastiche of the Bee Gees, who were one of King's favourite bands, and it was recorded with orchestral arrangements added by Arthur Greenslade. The band considered various names for themselves, including King's suggestion of Gabriel's Angels, before agreeing to his offering of Genesis, indicating the start of his production career. King chose 'The Silent Sun' as their first single, with 'That's Me' on the b-side, and it was released in February 1968, achieving some airplay on BBC Radio One and Radio Caroline, but failing to sell.
A second single, 'A Winter's Tale' / 'One-Eyed Hound', followed in May 1968 with the same result, and three months later Stewart left the group to continue with his studies, being replaced by fellow Charterhouse pupil John Silver. King believed that the group would achieve greater success with an album, and so 'From Genesis To Revelation' was recorded at Regent Sound in ten days during their school's summer break in August 1968. King assembled the tracks as a concept album, which he produced, and Greenslade added further orchestral arrangements to the songs - a fact which was kept from the band until after the album was released, and which particularly upset Phillips. When Decca found that there was already an American band named Genesis, King refused to change his group's name, but reached a compromise by removing their name from the album cover, resulting in a minimalist design with the album title printed on a plain black background. This actually backfired on him, as when the album was released in March 1969 it was a commercial failure because many record shops filed it in the religious music section upon seeing the title. A third single 'Where The Sour Turns To Sweet' / 'In Hiding' was released in June 1969, following the others into obscurity, and this eventually led to the band's split with King and Decca, although King retained the rights to the album, and has re-issued it numerous times to cash in on the band's subsequent success. After the album was recorded, the band went their separate ways for a year, with Gabriel and Phillips staying at Charterhouse to finish exams, Banks enrolling at Sussex University, and Rutherford studying at Farnborough College of Technology. They regrouped in mid-1969 to discuss their future, and Phillips and Rutherford decided to make music their full-time career, as they were starting to write more complex music than their earlier songs with King. After Banks and Gabriel chose to follow suit, the four returned to Regent Sound in August 1969 and recorded four more demos with Silver: 'Family' (later known as 'Dusk'), 'White Mountain', 'Going Out to Get You', and 'Pacidy'.
The tape was rejected by every record label that heard it, and so Silver then left the group to study leisure management in the United States, and he was replaced by drummer and carpenter John Mayhew. In late 1969, Genesis retreated to a cottage that Macphail's parents owned in Wotton, Surrey to write, rehearse, and develop their stage performance. They took their work seriously, playing together for as much as eleven hours a day, and their first live gig as Genesis followed in September 1969 at a teenager's birthday party. It was the start of a series of live shows in small venues across the UK, which included a radio performance broadcast on BBC's Night Ride show on 22 February 1970, and a spot at the Atomic Sunrise Festival held at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm a month later. During this time the band met with various record labels, including Chris Blackwell of Island and Chris Wright of Chrysalis, but nothing came of them, and in March 1970 they were recommended to John Anthony of Charisma Records by members of Rare Bird, who they had previously supported live. Anthony attended one of their shows and enjoyed them enough to convince his boss, label owner Tony Stratton-Smith, to watch their next performance, at which he was so impressed that he agreed to a record and management deal within two weeks, paying Genesis an initial sum of £10 a week (equivalent to £200 in 2021). Genesis stayed at Wotton until April 1970, by which time they had enough new material for a second album, recording 'Trespass' in June at Trident Studios in London, but that's where this story ends, as this is all about those early days, and the music that they recorded in their first couple of years as a band which didn't appear on the 'From Genesis To Revelation' album. As well as the singles, b-sides and demos already mentioned, we have that BBC radio session from 1970, and some previously unreleased demos of songs that never made it into a proper recording studio, and bearing in mind that they were all still in their late teens when most of these were recorded, the confidence and assurance of the music points to the legendary band that they would become.
01 Try A Little Sadness (demo 1967)
02 That's Me (b-side of 'Silent Sun' 1968)
03 She Is Beautiful (demo 1967 - later 'The Serpent' with different lyrics)
04 A Winter's Tale (single 1968)
05 Hey! (demo 1968)
06 One-Eyed Hound (b-side of 'A Winter's Tale')
07 The Mystery Of The Flannan Isle Lighthouse (demo 1968)
08 Build Me A Mountain (rough mix 1968)
09 Hair On The Arms and Legs (demo 1968)
10 Image Blown Out (rough mix 1968)
11 The Magic Of Time (demo 1968)
12 Shepherd (BBC radio session 1970)
13 Hidden In The World of Dawn (demo 1968)
14 Pacidy (BBC radio session 1970)
15 Sea Bee (demo 1968)
16 Let Us Now Make Love (BBC radio session 1970)
17 Going Out To Get You (demo 1969)