Never heard music performed by Quicksilver Messenger Service? Sure you have. For example, if you listen to Sirius Satellite Radio, chances are that the Jefferson Airplane-sounding band you hear is actually Quicksilver Messenger Service, whose legendary guitar riffs and interplay, drums and vocals never fail to capture the mood and consequence of the 1960s West Coast rock scene.
Ever heard that song “Get Together” by the Youngbloods? If so, your six degrees of separation with Quicksilver Messenger Service just got narrower. This hit single was written by none other than Dino Valente for whom Quicksilver Messenger Service was formed.
Indeed, Quicksilver Messenger Service was originally established as sort of an artistic vehicle for the hippie-acid rock-troubadour Dino Valente, that is until he got busted and faced drug charges. But, the band survived and went on to make music history, playing at the legendary Fillmore, Winterland, Avalon and Carousel Ballrooms.
In the 1965 Quicksilver Messenger Service formed and soon became one of the leading acts in San Francisco’s music scene. During the height of the psychedelic ’60s, Quicksilver Messenger Service held court among other legendary bands, like Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and The Grateful Dead. Indeed, while this band never made it big like its contemporaries, Quicksilver Messenger Service is lauded for its special place in music history. Its guitar interplay made for musical poetry, raising the bar for rock bands everywhere.
Quicksilver Messenger Service: The Music
If you could define what it is that put Quicksilver Messenger Service on the 1960s music map and into the Top 30 on the Billboard charts, it was the band’s unique fusion of rock, jazz and classical rifts. A true original on the Bay Area folk and folk rock circuit, Quicksilver Messenger Service made a name for itself for its signature album Quicksilver Messenger Service (1968) and Happy Trails (1969) which soon followed. Both were hailed as definitive albums that captured the San Francisco sound. Several albums followed, but it was never the same.
Quicksilver Messenger Service: The Band Members
The original line up for the rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service included Gary Duncan (guitar, vocals), John Cipollina (guitar), Jim Murray (guitar, vocals), David Freiberg (bass, vocals) and Greg Elmore (drums). A year later, Jim Murray dropped out and no longer toured with the band.
Gary Duncan later left the band and Shady Grove (1970) included British session pianist Nicky Hopkins. When the album was ready for release, Gary Duncan had returned, along with Dino Valente. Two more albums, Just for Love and What About Me, were recorded with this group of six band members. Then, John Cipollina, David Freiberg, and Nicky Hopkins left the band. Dino Valente, Gary Duncan, and drummer Greg Elmore recorded a couple of albums with other musicians before disbanding Quicksilver Messenger Service. Drug charges caused several members of the rock and roll band over the years to drop out and rejoin later.
Quicksilver Messenger Service: Discography
I like Dino’s Song, Long Haired Lady and, of course, Fresh Air. These 1960s songs have great melodies and unique lyrics to match. What About Me is one of the most surprising protest songs ever written or recorded because it just doesn’t sound like a protest song. But, the lyrics are powerful and though the song was written at a time of turbulent upheaval of social and political unrest and change, the questions posed by this song then are still relevant today. Among Quicksilver Messenger Service’s original studio albums are:
Quicksilver Messenger Service (1968)
Happy Trails (1969)
Shady Grove (1969)
Just For Love (1970)
What About Me (1971)
Comin’ Thru (1972)
Solid Silver (1975)
Quicksilver Messenger Service: Where are they today?
Quicksilver Messenger Service reunited in 1975 and quickly cut a new album and went on tour. In 1986, Gary Duncan revived the Quicksilver Messenger Service name for an album that featured David Freiberg on background vocals. Today, Quicksilver Messenger Service hosts an official website and plays for select causes and tours on occasion. A “new millennium” version of the band combines Duncan and Freiberg with Chris Smith (keyboards), John Ferenzik (bass), Linda Imperial (vocals), and Prairie Prince (drums.)
If all these staff changes confuse you, don’t worry about it. Get online and download some musical tracks to your iPod or MP-3 player. Tunes by Quicksilver Messenger Service will definitely enhance your classic rock listening experience.
Official Website for Quicksilver Messenger Service
Quicksilver Messenger Service Biography
Bay Area Bands – Quicksilver Messenger Service
American Federation of Musicians