Inkwell: Authors and Artists
'Got To! (freeform) Sun 26 Aug 01 16:01
In the late '70's, John used to play at a club on Haight Street in a band with Pam Tillis. Which band was that?
Eric Rawlins (woodman) Sun 26 Aug 01 16:23
David, a question for you: Seems to me I once sat at a keyboard and determined that your high note on "The Fool" is a D a step above high C. That's really high! Did you have formal voice training at one time? Second question: What was the Nicky Hopkins period like? I only caught one gig with NH, but it seemed to me his playing was a poor fit for the band's style.
Mary Eisenhart (marye) Mon 27 Aug 01 09:55
I forget whether it comes up in the video (I'm supposed to be finishing this article I'm writing instead of posting here, so I don't have time to check), but one of the things I remember most strikingly was his musician work ethic, which maybe bordered on the insane... Case in point, one night I recall in North Beach, probably a Thunder & Lightning gig at the Chi Chi. A weeknight, and I don't recall the weather being great or the crowd worth counting (the hardcore group of usual audience suspects, and that was about it...). Furthermore, John (and Nick, maybe) was reportedly newly back from Europe, like within the last 24 hours. And besides, word had it, he had a fever of 104 from some bug he'd picked up on tour. When he showed up, he looked even frailer than usual, plus haggard and ashen and barely able to speak. Nonetheless he was adamant on the point that he had never missed a gig in the time he'd been playing and was damned if he would start now, and this in a venue where he could easily have gone home with everyone's cheerful blessing. It was clearly a real serious deal to him, even though he could barely stand up at the time.
David Freiberg (freemountain) Mon 27 Aug 01 10:04
Rik- The first time QMS really went on the "road" was just when the first album came out. We stuck to west coast gigs before that. We certainly didn't do the glamorous rock star stuff when we did get out there - we stayed at the Chelsea in NYC - historical - not glamorous. Ron Polte, our manager, never let us get too far from the streets, at first. Eric - Yes that was D above high C. I think people had betting pools on whether I'd hit it in performance. Actually, it was easier to do it live than in the studio. It seems the excitement of the audience made it easier. No, I never had any formal voice training (or guitar, bass or keyboard - save the 3 lessons I got from Evelyn Cipollina). I recently started singing a little classical music - did the tenor solo in Beethoven's 9th in an amateur production. Fun! The Nicky Hopkins period - that's a pretty big question. Let me think about that one ... I'll get it in the next post.
David Freiberg (freemountain) Mon 27 Aug 01 10:33
Mary - I never knew John to miss a gig. I seemed like every time we were to go on the road, John would get really sick just when it was time to leave. Before the plane landed, he would seem to make a miraculous recovery and feel fine for the rest of the tour. Now - back to the Nicky Hopkins period. When Gary split - he really was the engine that made us all chug along so well - we couldn't figure out what to do -- we wrote new material - actually tried out a few replacement guitarists - nobody clicked. Nicky was in town, having played on the Steve Miller and Jefferson Airplane albums and we asked if he'd like to play on ours. He'd grown to like it around here, so he agreed. He sure saved our butts, I'd hate to hear the Shady Grove album without him. John and I were born on August 24 - Nicky was our polar opposite - February 24. He and John had a lot in common. Aside from frail health issues and skinny bodies - they both were collectors - well - John was more of a pack rat than Nicky. Nicky and John hit it off and Nicky agreed to join QMS. We played very few gigs during the period that Gary was gone - Nicky didn't really replace him - no one could. Usually we'd get Nick Gravenites to sit in with us if we played anywhere.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 27 Aug 01 11:04
God, I'd forgotten how Nicky got involved with Quicksilver. Thanks for the refresher, David.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 27 Aug 01 14:31
>Actually, it was easier to do it live than in the studio. It seems the ex- >citement of the audience made it easier. I've had that experience. And I've also had the experience that John seems to have had countless times, of being miraculously cured just in time for the gig.
David Gans (tnf) Tue 28 Aug 01 14:18
A friend of mine is a first cousin of John and Mike's. In 1973, we had a regular gig at a restaurant/bar in Greenbrae, and we regularly visited with cousin Mike (who at that time was living with her husband and ids in Mill Valley). I was thrilled to meet John, of course, and he was VERY kind to me. He showed me how to play slide guitar with a knife, and he gave me my first taste of cocaine (but enoughabout that). he also loaned me one of those great bat-wing Gibson Les Paul SG guitars for a while.
Mary Eisenhart (marye) Tue 28 Aug 01 14:29
Hal, you say you decided to make the video a few months after John's death; what did you use for source material (footage, photos, music, etc.). Deadheads, of course, are perfectly obsessive about archiving EVERYTHING...was there enough of that going on, inside and outside the various bands John was in, to give you a good selection of stuff to draw from?
David Gans (tnf) Tue 28 Aug 01 15:15
Don Coolidge writes, provocatively: Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 15:05:14 -0700 Reply-To: Don.Coolidge@Sun.COM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: John Cippolina Personally, I think that Cippolina was far too accomplished as a guitarist to ever be seen as typical of the San Francisco sound. Folks like Barry Melton and Jorma Kaukonen were immensely talented, but had far less innate musical ability than Cippolina. I was sorry to see Dino Valenti re-join Quicksilver after his time in jail - it became his band, and was never again as good, as creative, or as eclectic as it had been for the first two albums, when Cippolina had much more to do with shaping the band's music and direction. -- Don Coolidge
David Gans (tnf) Tue 28 Aug 01 15:21
I am not sure I know what "innate musical ability," or why you think John had more of it than David F., Barry Melton, or the guys in Moby Grape, or the Dead.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 28 Aug 01 16:14
David, do you remember that amazing antique carved wooden bear we bought for John as a birthday present? I've always wondered whether John kept that, and what happened to it when he died? Do you know?
David Freiberg (freemountain) Tue 28 Aug 01 17:16
Mr. Coolidge - I hate to quantify innate musical ability - it's all so subjective - in the ear of the listener. I'm sure that Dino had his fans that thought his stuff was more creative than anything that QMS did before. I *wouldn't* be one of them to be sure. Dino couldn't really be IN a band - it would have to follow HIM.Carol Kay, the great studio bassist, told me of the time when Dino was making an album in LA and they called in Hal Blaine with her and Dino was complaining that they couldn't keep a beat - a ludicrous suggestion! Actually the only reason that I went for Dino in the band was to get Gary back, as they seemed to come as a package. I think if John still had a voice on this plane, he'd say the same (though, I'm sure it would take hours to wheedle it out of him). Duncan had/has as much going for himself musically as any of the aforementioned folks. Ms. D-B - I think I remember the bear being in his house the last time I was there many years ago. I'll have to ask Mario, Antonia or Mike. It was his kind of thing, I think.
Eric Rawlins (woodman) Wed 29 Aug 01 08:33
>Carol Kay and Hal Blaine can't keep a beat !!!!!
David Gans (tnf) Wed 29 Aug 01 08:50
COmplaining about Hal Blaine's abilities is a pretty strong indication of an alternate reality!
David Gans (tnf) Wed 29 Aug 01 08:50
Ihor Slabicky writes: To: email@example.com From: "Ihor W Slabicky" <Ihor_W_Slabicky@raytheon.com> Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 09:37:05 -0400 howdy y'all, not being a well-head myself, but always being appreciative of the well, i have to thank david gans for passing along this interesting discussion about john cipollina and qms... my big question - what is the feasibility of releasing live recordings of the qms from the early days, say up through 1970 or so? complete concerts kind of thing? sort of a 'from the back of the recording shack', like the dead's 'from the vault' or 'dick's picks' series? there surely must be some folks in the greater tape trading community that have these older performances, and in good quality. every so often, little gems do surface. i imagine that this would be an extremely difficult effort to track down any of these shows, get the rights, get the band members permissions, etc. btw, who owns the rights to the 'quicksilver messenger service' name? I-) ihor
David Freiberg (freemountain) Wed 29 Aug 01 10:14
Remember what I said about not being able to hold Quicksilver in your hand - it always slips through your fingers? Well, a few years back, when there was very sympathetic Dead/QMS head as president at Capitol Records, Mickey Hart and I had the great idea of putting out a live album of pre-Dino QMS. After all Capitol had recorded all those sets for the Happy Trails album and all we'd used was Who Do You Love and Mona. Even with heavy pressure from the pres., the out-takes were nowhere to be found in the vaults. Vanished into thin air! Capitol did release a "collectors" 2 CD package recently which has some live stuff on it. They had to find bootlegs and boot the boots for the material. John was a pack-rat, as we all well know, and had a very hard time saying no to anyone. I'm sure he had all the 1/4 track rough mixes from the studio and (in my mind) was the likely source for most boots. As to who owns the rights to the name - John and I signed off on the name in 1986, when Gary was putting out an album. I had done some singing on it and suggested that he should use the name, as no one else was. Guess that was a bad idea, as Greg Elmore got a lawyer and it ended up in court where the judge decided that they both owned the name.As soon as the lawyers started sending letters, Capitol shelved the album (Peace by Piece). You can still get it by going to Gary's web site: www.qms2001.com
the System Works (dgault) Wed 29 Aug 01 10:45
One of my favorite 60s nostalgia items is sitting in a friend's living room, and I think it's John's. It's the top of a Gibson amp with Dymo tape labels over each of the knobs, so instead of "volume" it read "love beads", and instead of reverb it says "gumption", etc etc. I want to get a picture of my six year old with her ukelele sitting on it.
radiantly surreal imagery (rik) Wed 29 Aug 01 10:48
Damn, but that's a familar story. When you did the original few albums, was gthere anybody at the record company that had a clue what you were uyp to, or were they just looking to grab a piece of the SF band action?
radiantly surreal imagery (rik) Wed 29 Aug 01 10:48
dgault slipped in while I was thinking. I'll never do that again.
the System Works (dgault) Wed 29 Aug 01 10:54
David, was Quicksilver associated with Ace of Cups? I remember they played at my high school a couple of times and we booked them through Ron Polte, in 68 and 69. Loved them. Any idea where they are today? <rik>...HA!
David Gans (tnf) Wed 29 Aug 01 10:56
Dan Healy has some live two-tracks of QMS, either in his possession or in the Grateful Dead vault. I saw some of them a few years ago, in the vault.
Hal Royaltey (hal) Wed 29 Aug 01 14:00
> what did you use for source material (footage, photos, music, etc.). Deadheads, > of course, are perfectly obsessive about archiving EVERYTHING...was there > enough of that going on, inside and outside the various bands John > was in, to give you a good selection of stuff to draw from? It wasn't easy; early QMS footage is very hard to come by. Much of what we have we got by word of mouth. BGP and GD had some footage, but most of what we used was shot by various fans over the years. Ron Polte was kind enough to let us use the _Westpole_ footage. Some European fans came up with the German and Greek footage. Most of the stills came from the Cipollina family, and for the vast bulk of the them, we have no idea who took them, or when. We filmed the interviews, of course. I think our interview with Bill Graham is one of his very last. The other problem we faced was the poor quality of some of the footage. We're talking about 30 year old 8mm home movies shot under less than ideal conditions. An unfortunately large percentage of it was just unusable, as you can tell from the quality of some of the included footage. If we'd had anything better we'd've used it.
David Freiberg (freemountain) Wed 29 Aug 01 15:54
When QMS signed with Capitol, a veteran A & R man, John Palladino was assigned to us and stuck longer than I did. They were very good to us for many years. I wouldn't say that they had a clue as to what we were up to, but they more or less let us do what we wanted and helped, if they could. THE ACE OF CUPS- They were our friends, they sang some b/g on the first album. That's right, Ron Polte managed them. Diane, the drummer, is still playing, I believe. I'm sure Denise, the guitarist is still playing music, though I haven't seen her for a few years.
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 30 Aug 01 00:08
E-mail from richi ray harris: Thanks for your chat with Freiberg (a fine chap) and other guests. I was in a rock band, the Freedom Highway which played at Fillmore and was also managed by Polte and the boys and always love to hear conversation about the subject. thanks, richi ray harris
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