inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #0 of 145: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 22 Aug 01 16:41
    
Our next guest, Hal Royaltey, was born in Tucson, and moved to California
in 1952, where he had the chance to fully experience the live music
available there in the 60's.  Hal is a lifelong fan of rock music,
particularly San Francisco bands of the 60's.  He returned to California
in 1980 after receiving his Ph.D. in Ecology in New York, and was soon
involved in the very lively San Francisco music scene. He co-founded a
successful software company, which allowed him more time for music.  Hal
was a big fan of John Cipollina, and was a friend of the Cipollina family.  
When John died, Hal joined forces with John's sister Antonia, his manager
and friend, Steve Keyser, along with talented cinematographer Jesse Block,
and film editor Jim Draper, to produce "John Cipollina:  Electric
Guitarslinger" a video biography of his life.

Also joining us is Special Guest David Freiberg, a founding member of
Quicksilver Messenger Service who grew up in Cincinnati and moved to
California in 1959. In the early '60s he lived in a proto-hippie commune
with Paul Kantner and David Crosby. In 1972, David joined the Jefferson
Airplane, and he was a key player in the formation of the Jefferson
Starship. He coauthored the Starship's international hit single, "Jane"
and cowrote "Come to Life" with Robert Hunter.  He and his wife -- singer
Linda Imperial -- live in Novato, California, where they operate Free
Mountain Studios.

Interviewer Rik Elswit's downfall was brought about by exposure to Louis
Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Pete Seeger, and the Beatles, though there were
unindicted co-conspiritors who will remain nameless for the time
being.  He has been playing music professionally since dropping out of USC
in 1965 and 1966. Oh yeah, and 1967, too.    He'd been working the Bay
Area for several years when he joined Dr. Hook for what turned into a 14
year tour, and even has gold records and tour jackets to prove it. He is a
long-time WELL member, a former host of the Well's music conference, and
today he plays, teaches, writes, sells musical equipment, and currently
cohosts the band conference on the WELL, which is for working and aspiring
musicians, and people in the industry.

Please join me in welcoming Hal, David, and Rik to inkwell.vue!
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #1 of 145: radiantly surreal imagery (rik) Thu 23 Aug 01 10:43
    
Welcome all.   Let me start with a question for Hal.   This video is a very
moving tribute, almost a fan letter, to a musician who was both a symbol of
San Francisco's psychedelic 60s and a working musician who, while world
famous, continued to work the clubs and ballrooms right up until his
premature death.   He was a lifer who lived to make music.   How long have
you been a fan, Hal?   When did you first hear John, and what attracted you
to his music?
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #2 of 145: Hal Royaltey (hal) Thu 23 Aug 01 23:21
    
Hi Rik.  Hi David ..

Though I hadn't thought of it before, "fan letter" really is a good way
to describe the video.   We started work on it a few months after John's 
death in 1989 for a number of reasons.   For all of us, and particularly for 
John's sister, I think it was a way of saying goodbye, and thanks.  We also 
saw it as a way to connect with John's fans worldwide - a kind of global
wake allowing us to sit around reminiscing about John's music.   Finally it
was a way to preserve some of his life and work for those who hadn't yet
heard of him.

I first heard Quicksilver play sometime in the late summer of 1966.
It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college at UC
Riverside (in Southern California) and I was living in an off-campus house
with a couple of buddies.   One guy took a short summer session course
at UC Berkeley and came home raving about this great music to be found 
in San Francisco.   Shortly thereafter the three of us started driving to
San Francisco (500 miles, more or less) two or three times a month, just 
to listen to whoever was playing at the Fillmore or the other clubs in town.
The first time I heard Quicksilver, and John's guitar work, I was transfixed.

I think almost everybody has music inside them; they can hear it in their 
heads.   Unfortunately, only some of us can make it emerge into the outside 
world through voice or instrument.   I'm one of those who's fated to be in 
the audience, and not up on the stage.  The performers, of course, play their 
own internal music, and it may or may not be a good match for mine.   John's 
match was almost perfect for me.   Each note, each pause, was exactly what 
I would play if only I had the talent.   Quicksilver was a near perfect 
match for John - the vocals, the instrumentals, the songs, were the best 
possible context for his playing. 

But ... why don't I let David say hello, too?
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #3 of 145: David Freiberg (freemountain) Fri 24 Aug 01 09:55
    
Hello folks ... sorry I'm late ... it's my birthday (as well as
John's).  I watched "The Electric Guitarslinger" late last night after
a session in the studio.  It brought smiles from deep within.  I miss
that old guy, John.  He always seemed kinda like an old man to me, even
though I was five years older. He was a unique personality.  Shall we
reminisce?
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #4 of 145: David Freiberg (freemountain) Fri 24 Aug 01 10:06
    <scribbled by castle Fri 24 Aug 01 12:37>
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #5 of 145: radiantly surreal imagery (rik) Fri 24 Aug 01 11:05
    
Hi David, and welcome aboard.

One interesting distinction that comes out in the video is that John, unlike
Garcia, Kaukonnen, Mike Wilhelm (Charlatans), Barry Melton (Country Joe
and the Fish) and so many others of the early SF rock bands, did not come
out of the folk music scene.   He was always an electric guitarist.  How
did you two hook up, David, and what were your roots?
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #6 of 145: Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 24 Aug 01 12:44
    

For those of you reading along on the Web, please send your comments and
questions to inkwell-hosts@well.com and we will see that they get posted
for you.
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #7 of 145: David Freiberg (freemountain) Fri 24 Aug 01 13:07
    
Quicksilver was PERFECT ... named perfectly (can't hold it -- slips
through your fingers).. let's hear it for astrology!

OK, Rik, here goes.  I came from a folk music background - I'd been
earning what I considered a living for a couple of years. Jim Murray
was a folkie as well.  However, Gary, Greg and John were all rockers. 
Gary'd been playing bass in Vegas show bands, before becoming the
Brogues lead singer.

I met John in Sausalito, where there were vague rumors of Dino Valenti
getting a band together.  I'd moved to Marin County after getting
busted in SF for an ounce of weed.  I was working at a foreign freight
forwarder, hating every moment of it.  I'd come home and get stoned and
play and sing Beatle songs 'til I dropped.  John and I hung out and
smoked a bit on weekends.  I think he was toying with being a real
estate agent like his Dad, Gino.

(think I'll post this now and continue later)
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #8 of 145: David Freiberg (freemountain) Fri 24 Aug 01 13:38
    
to continue:

Once again, I got busted for a bit of weed.  After a stay of 30 days
in Marin County Jail, I found myself released on my own recognizance,
homeless and jobless in Marin. John, Jimmy and I began to get serious
about forming a band. John and I became more or less inseperable.  We
spent a lot of time smoking weed and driving around in his '54
Plymouth, seeing the sights of Marin.
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #9 of 145: Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 24 Aug 01 14:19
    

When was this, David?  What sort of time frame...?
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #10 of 145: David Freiberg (freemountain) Fri 24 Aug 01 14:32
    
It had to be mid 1965.  We'd spend our days hanging out in the park in
Sausalito - nights we'd find ourselves sleeping on someone's floor,
most likely.  Didn't seem like hard times - I was *absolutely* sure
we'd have a successful band.  Little did I know I'd have to do another
couple of months in the slammer before the band would be whole.
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #11 of 145: the System Works (dgault) Fri 24 Aug 01 14:41
    

uh oh,  here come the flashbacks...

which park?  the one downtown with the fountain that Mel Wax closed 
to keep the hippies out after his daughter showed up in Time as 
"a flower child?"  It just reopened after 30 years!
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #12 of 145: David Freiberg (freemountain) Fri 24 Aug 01 15:13
    
That's the park ... and, I guess *we* were the reason Mel closed it
down.  Martha (his daughter) ran away from home to LA with Julia
("Girl" - whom I'd marry in a few months) to find Crosby.  I'm glad
it's reopened.  It looked really stupid being fenced in.

Keep them flashbacks a-comin'!
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #13 of 145: the System Works (dgault) Fri 24 Aug 01 15:35
    

It was a terrible scandal.  My parents used the "look at Martha Wax
who disgraced her poor father THE MAYOR" example to keep me in line. 
Must have worked for a couple of months,  too.   

Don't want to interrupt the narrative here,  but,  the flashbacks are
strong.  First saw you guys the night before New Years 66-67 at the
Fillmore.  You guys wuz damn good.
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #14 of 145: David Freiberg (freemountain) Fri 24 Aug 01 15:58
    
Thanks for the nice words.  Wow!  I was into a narrative, wasn't I! 
Shee-ut!  Didn't mean to do that.Let's talk about whatever!  Happy
Birthday Cipollina, wherever you are!
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #15 of 145: Steve Keyser (jonl) Fri 24 Aug 01 16:35
    
Email from Steve Keyser:

Hi,

Please let people that are reading the conference regarding John
Cipollina:  Electric Guitarslinger that they can find information about
ordering the video at http://www.johncipollina.com

They can also send me an email to cipollinafan@hotmail.com, or drop me a
line at PO Box 2224, San Rafael, CA 94912.

Thank you!

- Steve Keyser
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #16 of 145: the System Works (dgault) Fri 24 Aug 01 16:53
    

Did John have any flamenco background?  I hear that in his playing and
he had that gypsy look going in his eyes,  too. 
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #17 of 145: Eric Rawlins (woodman) Fri 24 Aug 01 17:02
    
Thanks for setting this up, Linda and Rik. Thanks to Hal for the wonderful
coumentary. And thanks to David for joining us here, so I can tell you face-
to-face (sort of) that many of my fondest memories from the 60s are of
listening to you and John and the rest do what you did, and to thank you for
it.

David, how would you characterize the different guitar styles of John and
Gary? I always thought they complemented each other perfectly.
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #18 of 145: David Freiberg (freemountain) Fri 24 Aug 01 17:42
    
I don't think John had any flamenco in his background.  He might have
been forced to learn a little when he took lessons when he was a kid. 
I think all he ever *wanted* to play was rock and roll.  His mom, was
of Portuguese extraction - his father English (I believe his name was
Mallett).  Gino was his stepfather.

Eric,I agree that Jon and Gary complimented each other perfectly.  As
I said earlier, QMS was *perfect*  :-)  But bound to trickle through
your fingers like mercury .. just can't hold on to it.

Gary was greatly influenced by listening to John Coltrane and Miles
Davis - perhaps some of the Spanish influence came from our weeks of
listening to "Sketches of Spain" while tripping.  Gary was the rhythmic
engine while John was the ornamentor, pulling his sounds from
*beyond*!  I always thought that Gary didn't get enough credit - not to
take a thing away from John.  They were BOTH great soloists.
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #19 of 145: Hal Royaltey (hal) Fri 24 Aug 01 18:14
    
> John was the ornamentor

Yup ... aside from lead solos, John was constantly slinging little
fillips and grace notes into the music, behind and around everything
else that was happening.  

The band occupying much of John's time during the 80's was Dinosaurs.
The original lineup was Barry Melton (CJ & the Fish), John, Peter Albin
(Big Brother), Spencer Dryden (Jefferson Airplane, etc), and Robert
Hunter (numerous Grateful Dead connections).   The first few times we
listened to Dinosaurs after John died, it was astonishing how 
concious we were of what *wasn't* there.   All those nearly invisible
little notes that made the sound richer were just gone.   

John's original musical training was classical guitar.  His mother,
Evelyn, was a fine pianist.   If he wasn't going to study piano,
she was determined that he would at least study real music.  She
was always his biggest fan, though.   When John and Nick Gravenites
were playing as Thunder and Lightning in the Chi Chi Club in North
Beach in San Francisco, she was usually there.   It was an amazing
sight to see this dignified woman sitting at a small table in the 
world's tackiest nightclub, just beaming at her son while he and 
Nick ground out some marvelous blues.

<dgault>:  You were at the Fillmore on 12/30/66?   I was there the 
next night.   I think that was Bill Graham's first all-night New
Year's Eve concert, and what a party it was.   My memory is 
hazy after all these years, but it seemed as if every musician in
town started turning up and sitting in after 2AM or so, with John
hanging right in there with all of 'em.
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #20 of 145: David Freiberg (freemountain) Fri 24 Aug 01 18:38
    
it *does* get hazy, don't it?
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #21 of 145: radiantly surreal imagery (rik) Fri 24 Aug 01 20:57
    
Eric, in the video, John's sisters talk about his early guitar lessons.  His
mom apparently had an epiphany and figured that if he was going to persist
with this guitar stuff, he better take lessons, and she signed him up with a
rather academic teacher.   HIs twin sister, Michael, tells of going with him
to a couple of lessons, listening to blather about subdominants and tonics,
and opting out immediately.   John couldn't take it for much longer and
bailed shortly after she did.    Towards the end of the video, John himself
tells a very funny story about a guitar lesson he takes from Muddy Waters,
but I'm not going to spill it here.   Ya gotta hear him tell it.

What struck me, as a fellow guitarist, was his unusual right hand style.
While the entire pop and rock world took up flatpicking, John used a
plastic thumbpick and a single plastic fingerpick.   And he loved using the
vibrato arm.   David, did he ever talk about why he used that arrangement,
and, for that matter, what was with the amps with the trumpets on top?
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #22 of 145: the System Works (dgault) Fri 24 Aug 01 21:19
    

I think my flamenco question should have been 'where did all those
arpeggios come from',  which may be the same as 'where did that right 
hand technique come from?'

I was thinking this evening about how much I love that tune 'Gold 
and Silver.'   What a great piece of ensemble work.   I listen
to just about all Basie and Ellington these days,  and that tune
stands with those two bands.   
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #23 of 145: the System Works (dgault) Fri 24 Aug 01 21:23
    

And yeah,  I don't remember much about the night before the 
New Year's Bash except the feeling that by walking into
that big dark loud room I was taking an irrevocable step.
I had just turned 13,  and man that feeling was right!
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #24 of 145: Eric Rawlins (woodman) Fri 24 Aug 01 22:46
    
>I always thought that Gary didn't get enough credit

I always thought that too.

Yeah, what *was* the idea behind those trumpets?
  
inkwell.vue.121 : Hal Royaltey: John Cipollina, Electric Guitarslinger, with Special Guest David Freiberg
permalink #25 of 145: David Freiberg (freemountain) Fri 24 Aug 01 23:00
    
John used to file those plastic picks down to a point.  Check 'em out
on the video.  They didn't come that way. The Bigsby vibrato tailpiece
was also customised.  It was made to only push down on, thus lowering
the pitch.  John wanted to pull and raise the pitch, as well - but if
you did that the spring would fly out of the mechanism.  So John
epoxied the spring to the bar and glued a nickel in the hole where the
spring sat (it had to be a Buffalo nickel - don't ask me why - this was
John - only HE knew).

He picked up the first trombone horns with the high frequency drivers
for his amp on our first trip to Boston at Wurlitzer Music.  He picked
up the other two later.  When he hit the footswitch to turn them on,
your ears better not be facing them. OWWWWW!  Piercing, man.  Nobody
will *ever* sound like that again.
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

 
   Join Us
 
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us

Twitter G+ Facebook