Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE
US rock band formed in San Francisco '65 by John Cipollina (b 24 Aug. '43, Berkeley; d 29 May '89) and Gary Duncan (b 4 Sep. '46, San Diego), guitars, with Greg Elmore (b 4 Sep. '46, San Diego), drums; David Freiberg (b 24 Aug. '38, Boston), bass; Jim Murray, harmonica. After contributing to Revolution soundtrack Murray left '66 to study sitar. Dino Valenti (b 7 Nov. '43, NYC; d 16 Nov. '94) was supposed to be the vocalist (he'd written 'Hey Joe' and the Youngbloods' 'Get Together' as Chester A. Powers), but was jailed on drug charges, didn't join until '70. QMS were one of the last bands to be signed in the rush to the Bay Area by record companies. Eponymous first LP '68 incl. 'Dino's Song' (by Valenti) and with Happy Trails '69 contained their best work: latter contained side-long improvisations on Bo Diddley's 'Who Do You Love', taking up where first LP's twelve minutes of interwoven guitars on 'The Fool' left off, instrumental LPs reflecting the absence of a singer. Duncan left to join newly- freed Valenti in the Outlaws (not the more famous '70s group of that name); Nicky Hopkins filled in on keyboards for disappointing Shady Grove '69; Valenti and Duncan returned for Just For Love '70 and What About Me '71, for which Mark Naftalin replaced Hopkins, but the band fell apart. Guitar legend Cippolina's distinctive vibrato style was relegated to support role as group became song-oriented; he left to form Copperheads with Murray, guested with Welsh progressives Man on live Maximum Darkness '75; Freiberg left, resurfaced with Jefferson Starship; survivors made Quicksilver and Comin' Through, which disappointed, as did reunion of 'original' quartet plus Valenti for Solid Silver '75. First two LPs are a good example of the best of San Francisco era; classic anthology The Ultimate Journey on See for Miles UK.