"San Francisco Bands ... a tribute to Chet Helms" Top 5 Page for this destination San Francisco Travelogue by davequ

San Francisco Travel Guide: 9,425 reviews and 20,517 photos

Big Brother & Janis

The last time I saw the original Big Brother & Holding Co live was September 8 & 9 in 1967, opening night at the "Family Dog" in Denver,

an excellent ballroom run by Chet Helms
that was much like his Avalon Ballroom in SF at Sutter & Van Ness. My short tribute to Chet Helms (August 2, 1942 - June 25, 2005) is at the bottom of this page.

Chet booked music easily as good or better than the Fillmore, and it was accomplished with Chet's more mellow, music-loving, unmercenary approach.
The light show by Diogenes Lantern Works was first rate.

The stage at the Denver Dog was only a couple of feet high with a small railing.
You could walk up, reach out to Janis & touch her if you wanted to.

Here's the POSTER from that first show.

Catch "Ball & Chain" in the film "Monterey Pop"

Grateful Dead

Dead website

I always thought the original Dead (with Pigpen) was something of a paradox or contradiction:

- On the occasional bad night - one of the worst bands in the world;

- On a special night - one of the best bands in the world.

Here is a 'Denver Dog' '67 Dead poster (by Dennis Nolan) from a '67 Chet Helms show.
(thanks AGAIN, Chet)

Jefferson Airplane

Marty (with Signe), - and Grace sang great, wrote good songs & got the lions share of the pub,

but imho
Paul Kantner is the glue that held it together. RIP PK January 28, 2016

Live, when the original lineup shown were having an "on night,"
there was nothing like it.


Original drummer Spencer Dryden (holding the banjo front-right) passed away recently.

Jack Casady was one of my early fave bass players. I stole from him shamelessly.

One of my favorite Paul Kantner quotes: (I'm paraphrasing)

"maybe for 1 week, or maybe just 1 day in 1967, we got it right..."

Rick appears to be back - Sometime you might want to go for a stroll up on A-Deck

Here also is a poster by the great Alton Kelley (rip) from the vault.

ps.... I originally wrote this in 2003 with a smile listening to Jorma's beautiful solo on the hidden "DCBA 25" remix basic track (without vocals....) on the latest release of Pillow.

Have you seen the stars?

Quicksilver Messenger Service

To me, maybe the quintessential sf ballroom experience.

Their music, especially live, was unique & free.

The lineup that recorded the first 2 albums was my favorite incarnation, with John Cipollina
(rip - one of the classic and best sounds a guitar can make is John Cipollina attacking a Gibson SG with a whammy bar)

and David Freiberg (a great musician/songwriter, bassist/singer ... David now enriches live Starship performances)

as the heart & soul. (no "diss" to Gary, Greg or Dino)

I was a little late to the QMS party, not getting to see them live until September 15 & 16, 1967 at the Family Dog in Denver. They were excellent. Here is the POSTER from that show.

Classic Bands QMS

New live performance footage released in the latest Criterion DVD Monterey Pop


rhythmic, hypnotic, sensual & powerful, especially live.
Salute, ...
This was the music you put on before you close the bedroom door.
Here's a taste: :x

Check out "Soul Sacrifice" in the 'Woodstock' film

David Crosby

Despite much of his history was "LA" and current residence in Santa Ynez,

no SF / Marin Cnty music page would be complete without David Crosby

Though in the past sometimes a selfish egoist when it came to drugs and "triad" sex, he was always my favorite Byrd, one of my alltime favorite solo artists;
possibly the best harmony singer ever born, and a true survivor.

You can find out what current mischief David is up to here:

David Crosby

UPDATE 11/'06 - David now has released (on Rhino) an amazing DVD / CD reissue of his classic (and probably my favorite) performance 'If Only I Could Remember My Name '

and a new book - 'Since Then'

Honorary Award

Everyone knows they're from Venice / LA,
but early '67 / '68 Doors will always be welcomed & celebrated with the above groups as they (at least in the early days) also possessed the same tribal, Dionysian thing.

Most people (sadly) only remember the "hits,"
but a true Doors fan remembers the experience of Jim's live, free form, Lizard King poetry & presence with Ray, John, & Robby's jazz-like accompanyment (as long as Jim wasn't too drunk). ... Enciende mi Fuego

Wildest Doors gig I ever saw was New Years Eve December 31, 1967.
At midnight, they climaxed with a particularly spirited version of "When the Music's Over"

2013 © The Doors. All Rights Reserved

Happy New Year

The poster from the above-mentioned Doors NY eve show 12/31/67 --------------------->

Family Dog Presents ©

To Chet Helms:

Thank you for trying; thank you for everything!

Sad (for me) update 6/25/05 - Chet Helms just passed away last night.

Hey Chet:
... have a wonderful journey. Peace, good weather, good luck.

I felt bad when I heard the news, but then I had a selfish thought that cheered me up:
it is possible that somewhere in the universe Chet is getting ready to open the best ballroom ever.
Maybe someday if my karma is good I will be blessed to get past a winged doorman / bouncer ...

"no shoes? ... no shirt!?? no BODY??? ... no problem!!"

and enjoy a night or two at the ultimate Family Dog / Avalon Ballroom.

(we can only hope)

  • Page Updated May 9, 2016
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