In February 1968, Genesis’ debut single “The Silent Sun” was released on Decca Records. Peter Gabriel was just 18 when it came out. Let’s take a look at the band’s first single!
Genesis at Charterhouse
Genesis were still at Charterhouse in 1968. Tony Banks, Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips had met at the public school and formed the group Genesis to break away from the oppressing school life. Back then, the group consisted of two songwriting pairs: Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel on the one hand and Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford on the other. They had recorded some demos while at school and had passed them on to producer Jonathan King. King was an ex-Charterhouse pupil and had become a successful producer and musician.
King liked the music, in particular Peter Gabriel’s voice. He signed them at Decca Records and decided to produce an entire album with them. But when the band came with their next demos, he wasn’t impressed with what he heard.
Their producer Jonathan King was a Bee Gees fan
Knowing that he was a Bee Gees fan, Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel composed “The Silent Sun,“, a Bee Gees-style effort. Naturally, King liked it, it became their first single and he went on to produce their first album “From Genesis to Revelation“.
The song is pure pop and the focus is on Peter and his voice. It is very different from everything they would do later. It is a mixture of folk and pop. Tony Banks’ piano is (already) very dominant. The strings were added later in the studio by King. It is also one of very few official recordings that feature the group’s original drummer Chris Stewart.
Anthony Phillips (considered by the band to be best and main writer at the time) did not like the song. He also did not like the idea of “selling out”, of writing a hit single to be able to release more complex music. The song did get some airplay and the boys and their relatives were very excited about being played on the radio. Mike Rutheford heard it on the radio in Ant Phillips’s kitchen and was convinced that they would be invited to Top Of The Pops. Peter Gabriel and the band went to Carnaby Street to buy some outfits for the appearance. But the single did not chart and the call never came.
“The Silent Sun” failed to chart
The single was a flop as well as the following album and the band and King separated ways. Genesis went on to produce more adventurous music (which they always wanted to do). King re-released his early recordings with the band in different versions over the years.
Still, it is it is a good pop tune and a remarkable first single. One might wonder in which direction Genesis would have developed if it had been a success. Imagine this song being played by the band and sung by Phil Collins in the 80’s between “Mama” and “Supper’s Ready”!
About Philipp Röttgers
Philipp Röttgers is a music journalist and an absolute expert on the band. He released a book „Two eras of Genesis?: The development of a rock band“ in 2015 and interviewed band members and people connected to the band.
Find out everything about Philipp’s favourite group. Genesis is a British rock band and one of the most successful groups in the world. Their hits include „That’s All“, „Invisible Touch“ and „I Can’t Dance“. The group consists of Phil Collins (vocals, drums), Mike Rutherford (guitars, bass) and Tony Banks (keyboards). This blog contains news, reviews and glimpses into Genesis‘ history.