Jim Murray - vocals, percussion; John Cipollina - guitar, vocals; Gary Duncan - guitar, vocals; David Freiberg - bass, vocals; Greg Elmore - drums
Along with contemporaries Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service were among the earliest of the San Francisco "Summer of Love" bands who frequented the Avalon, the Fillmore and other area venues. Originally conceived as a band to back San Fran folk-rocker Dino Valenti (best known for writing The Youngbloods' classic "Get Together"), the band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, had to go on without their frontman in 1965, when Valenti got busted for drugs and sent away to prison. He was in and out of jail for the next two years, and after a failed attempt at forming a band called the Outlaws with Gary Duncan, Valenti officially rejoined Quicksilver in 1970. By then, the group had already built a sizeable following as one of the Bay Area's hottest club bands.
This is probably the earliest known professional live recording of the band, made in 1966 at the Fillmore Auditorium. Less than a year old at the time of this recording (though some of their members had begun working together in 1963), the band was still finding its way through a maze of old blues tunes, early psychedelic drug influences and originals they were writing at the time.
Their musicianship is remarkably strong on this early recording, especially considering other popular bands breaking through the Bay Area club scene at the time could barely play. Quicksilver's version of "Susie Q" was completely lifted almost note for note some years later by another Bay Area-based band: Creedence Clearwater Revival. There was an obvious interest in Muddy Waters' music, with the band performing two covers of his songs at this show: "I Got My Mojo Working" and "Hoochie Coochie Man." But not everything here works. The band's attempt at a pop ballad, "Stand By Me," lacks cohesive direction and suffers from horribly off-key vocals and out of tune instruments.
Guitarist John Cipollina (whose younger brother would become the bassist in Huey Lewis and the News), spearheaded the band's idea to use dual lead guitars and would eventually leave Quicksilver in 1970 to form his own band, Copperhead. In 1989, he died at the age of 45 from emphysema, aggravated by years of respiratory problems. Bassist David Freiberg eventually left to join his friends in the Jefferson Airplane in 1972, morphing into the Jefferson Starship around the same time.
During this unique time in the history of American rock music, there were few groups that played as prominent and formative a part in developing the "San Francisco sound." Here's a chance to experience the band in all their early, unvarnished glory - indispensable.