Formed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1968, The Bead Game had the misfortune to be tainted by the infamous 'Bosstown Sound' hype, which also affected their contemporaries like Ill Wind, the Listening and Phluph. A well-heeled quintet originally formed by singer John Leone and teenage ace guitarist John Sheldon (who'd played with Van Morrison in the run-up to Astral Weeks), they named themselves after Herman Hesse's unreadable magnum opus The Glass Bead Game, and built up a solid local following through club gigs, becoming especial favorites at Harvard University parties known as 'mixers'. By the summer of 1968 a deal with Vanguard was being mooted, but nothing happened, and Leone departed shortly afterwards. Drummer Jim Hodder (soon to be a founding member of Steely Dan) assumed vocal duties, and was later to remark "we all lived together in one house, never rehearsed, and when we got on stage, we were really sloppy. But people came to hear us anyway." Under the stewardship of manager David Friedman, a demo LP was cut in 1969, but went unreleased until 1996, when it appeared as "Baptism."