Earlier that day Genesis had set off from their borrowed cottage. Outside of Dorking in Surrey, it was deep in the woods – and the 24 muddy steps down to the van were covered in leaves. Slipping and sliding, John and Ant had manhandled John’s drum kit – followed by Tony and Mike, balancing Tony’s Hammond organ. How they’d learnt to hate those steps – and count them off as they descended each time. And ascended on return!
Meanwhile Peter made a last minute call to the Roundhouse to check there would be a sound engineer. They’d done so few gigs. Nothing like this – and they had to be sure. The feedback from the speakers last time had ruined everything. And that was just a friend’s party.
Once in the old Hovis delivery van they were set. In the back, Tony and Peter, John and Ant, sitting either side of the central Hammond. Up front were Mike and Richard – who was driving. He was an old school friend and had found both the house and the van for them.
He was a believer!
As the van droned towards London the scene in the back resembled a wartime paratroop drop. The air of tension, not caused by life or death ahead of them, but by the very real anxiety about the reception their music would receive.
Their music had been created – constructed – in isolation. The five of them holed up in Christmas Cottage. Nearly a year. Living an experiment to see if they really had it in them to ‘make it’ in the music biz.
Except for John they’d known each other since Charterhouse. In the rarified atmosphere of public school they’d met each other while competing, each lunchtime, for keyboard time on the school piano . Things developed from there.
Peter occasionally made sorties into London. Escaping into the buzz of the King’s Road. He liked soul music and, one time, stayed on to see Otis Redding. Back at the school piano, he would occasionally revisit those dreams – serenading the others while standing on a desk. Now, only a few years later, he would see if his imaginary stage craft translated to the real world!
The stage of the Camden Roundhouse!