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Quicksilver Messenger Service

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Psychedelic Rock

Quicksilver Messenger Service Biography

Quicksilver Messenger Service is considered to be one of the most important bands to come from the San Francisco music scene of the sixties, along with their contemporaries, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.   Initially coming together in 1965, the band proceeded to play a great many gigs across America.

Quicksilver Messenger Service became one of the most popular draws in the Bay area of San Francisco.  The band gained a solid reputation as a strong live act, built around a mixture of good material and what would essentially become their calling card, long extended jamming pieces.

The original line-up was guitarists John Cippolina and Gary Duncan, alongside drummer Greg Elmore, bassist David Frieberg and vocalist Jim Murray. Originally the vocalist Dino Valenti was also in line to become a member but he was arrested and jailed on drugs charges whilst the band was still in its formative stages. Dino did, however, join the band at a later date. The original line-up lasted from late 1965, then the band signed with Capitol Records in late 1967. Just before this Jim Murray left and was not replaced.

The debut album, Quicksilver Messenger Service, was released in May 1968.  This was an eclectic affair and included key songs that still stand up to scrutiny forty years later. The album included Pride of Man, Gold and Silver, plus the extended song The Fool and Dino’s Song, which was written by Dino Valenti.

The following year, the band released what many consider to be their best album, Happy Trails.  This broke into the top 30 and included a side long suite of songs based around the Bo Diddley composition, Who Do You Love.  Happy Trails also included another Bo Diddley song, Mona, as well as the Gary-Duncan-composed Calvary.

The album set the seal for QuickSilver Messenger Service as one of the key bands of the time and certainly one of the more significant groups to come from the San Francisco music scene. Shortly after the release of Happy Trails, Gary departed, being replaced by English keyboard player, Nicky Hopkins. With this line-up the band recorded Shady Grove, which was another top thirty success.  

By the time of the 1970 release Just For Love, Gary returned to the band and Dino had also joined. Further albums were released, including What About Me in 1970, Quicksilver in 1971 and Comin’ Through in 1972. David Frieberg and John Cippolina had gone by the time of the Quicksilver album.

The band folded in 1973, although there was a reunion in 1975, along with an album entitled, Solid Silver. Quicksilver Messenger Service re-formed in 2006, led by Gary Duncan and David Frieberg.  Since then the band has continued to perform regularly, sometimes alongside Jefferson Starship.  John Cippolina, Dino Valenti and Nicky Hopkins have all subsequently died, with the current whereabouts of Greg Elmore unknown.


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