• Monterey Pop Artist Bios - Part One

    By Bruce Eder

    Friday night

    The Association

    Terry Kirkman—Vocals, brass, reeds, harmonica, percussion
    Ted Bluechel, Jr.—Drums
    Jim Yester—Vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards
    Russ Giguere—Lead vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion
    Brian Cole—Vocals, bass
    Larry Ramos—Lead guitar

    The Association was the most pop-oriented act to appear on the program at Monterey. Formed in 1965 by Terry Kirkman and Jules (aka Gary) Alexander, the group bridged the gap between “big-band” acoustic folk and the burgeoning electric folk-rock sound pioneered by The Byrds. After a couple of false starts, they found success in 1966 with the single “Along Comes Mary.” They followed this up with a Terry Kirkman original, “Cherish,” which reached the number one spot during the second half of that year. At the time of their performance at Monterey, The Association had recently replaced Alexander with Larry Ramos and were enjoying an up-and-coming hit with “Windy.” Despite their reputation for exciting live performances, the group never got past the image of being a pop-rock ensemble, and being left out of the original Monterey Pop film may have cost them any chance of achieving credibility with the late ‘60s counter-culture. The original group split up in 1973, but reformed five years later, and Russ Giguere and Larry Ramos were still leading a version of The Association in 2002.

    Terry Kirkman—Vocals, winds, reeds, harmonica, percussion
    (1939 - )

    Born in Salina, Kansas, Terry Kirkman entered music professionally in the wake of a chance meeting with guitarist Jules Alexander. They put together a 13-member group that quickly fell apart in a disagreement over direction, and kept the remaining six-man line-up together as The Association. In addition to “Cherish”—the group’s biggest hit—Kirkman also write “Enter the Young,” “Requiem for the Masses,” and “Six Man Band.”

    Russ Giguere—Vocals, rhythm guitar
    (1943 - )

    Portsmouth, New Hampshire-born Russ Giguere was performing as a singer/guitarist at the L.A. Troubadour in 1965 when he was spotted by Terry Kirkman and Jules Alexander. Giguere stayed with the group for six years, until 1971, when he left to embark on a solo career that yielded the album Hexagram 16, which reunited him on one track with his ex-bandmate, Jules Alexander. Giguere rejoined the group when it was reactivated in 1979 and, along with Larry Ramos, has led The Association since the mid-1980s.

    Ted Bluechel, Jr.—Drums, vocals, rhythm guitar
    (1942 - )

    Born in San Pedro, California, Ted Bluechel Jr. came of age just in time to become part of the late-1950s/early-1960’s folk boom. He started out in professional music as a guitarist and singer, which included a stint in The Cherry Hill Singers, before switching to the drums. He remained with the group until 1984.

    Jim Yester—Vocals, guitar, keyboards
    (1939 - )

    Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Jim Yester was the last original member of The Association to be recruited. Yester co-authored several songs, including the single “No Fair at All,” which was produced by his brother Jerry Yester (a former member of The Easy Riders and a co-founder of the Modern Folk Quartet). One of several members of the group who was involved with the Subud religion (Subud members report that over time, the lathian—a pragmatic experience which can be approached in the spirit of a scientific experiment—can bring you proof of the spiritual life), Yester presented a list of songs to his spiritual elders and got their imprimatur for the release of “Along Comes Mary.”

    Brian Cole—Bass, Vocals
    (1942 - 1973)

    An ex-member of the Gnu Folk, a music and comedy troupe, Brian Cole had been an actor as well as a musician. Cole was a lynchpin of the group’s sound on-stage, and was an essential member of The Association. He died of an overdose during the summer of 1973.

    Larry Ramos—Lead guitar, vocals
    (1942 - )

    The last member of the “classic” Association line-up to come aboard, Larry Ramos had been a child actor and musician since the mid-1940s, and was a four-year veteran of the New Christy Minstrels before releasing a solo single in 1966. Later that year, Association co-founder Jules Alexender announced that he was leaving the group to study religion in India, and Terry Kirkman asked Ramos to join the group in early 1967. The Monterey performance was his first major concert with the group. Ramos was still playing and singing with the group as of 2002.



    Eric Burdon and The Animals

    Eric Burdon and The Animals were an offshoot group to the original Animals, an RandB-based band formed in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1964. The newer group, which came to be based principally in America, also utilized elements of rhythm-and-blues, but did so within the larger context of psychedelic music. Although often overlooked, Eric Burdon and The Animals were a prodigiously talented band and developed a loyal following in the United States. They compiled a small but significant number of chart hits, including “San Franciscan Nights” and “Sky Pilot.” Burdon disbanded the group in late 1968—ironically, Eric Burdon and The Animals were overshadowed at Monterey by guitarist Jimi Hendrix, who was being co-managed by the Animals’ ex-bassist, Chas Chandler.

    Eric Burdon—Vocals
    (1941 - )

    As the lead singer of the Animals on songs such as “House of the Rising Sun,” “I’m Crying,” “It’s My Life,” and “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” Eric Burdon was one of the most charismatic figures in mid-1960’s British rock, rivaling Mick Jagger for supremacy as a blues-rock vocalist. Burdon went on to massive success in the early 1970s as the singer for War, and has since worked in various idioms, including R&B and funk; he reunited on two significant occasions with the original Animals during the 1970s and 1980s.

    John Weider—Guitar
    1947 - )

    John Weider studied the violin for nine years before he took up guitar and bass in the early 1960s. In late 1966, he joined Eric Burdon and The Animals. The group’s psychedelic orientation allowed him to play the amplified violin as well as the guitar, a skill showcased in their performance of “Paint It Black” in Monterey Pop. He was also the group’s principal composer until they split up in late 1968. In the 1980s, Weider re-emerged in classical and New Age music.

    Vic Briggs—Guitar, piano
    (1945 - )

    Vic Briggs left school at seventeen to become a professional musician, and over the next three years he backed up Jerry Lee Lewis, served as a member of Dusty Springfield’s backing band, and passed through the line-up of Brian Auger and The Trinity. In late 1966, he joined Eric Burdon and The Animals, where he shared the lead guitar duties with John Weider. During the summer of 1968, Briggs was replaced in the group by Andy Summers, later of The Police. During the 1970s, Briggs turned to Eastern religion, becoming a Sikh and establishing himself as a teacher of Yogic discipline. He has recorded albums of Hindustani music, and in recent years has become studied native Hawaiian chanting.


    Danny McCulloch—Bass
    (1945 - )

    Previously a member of Screaming Lord Sutch’s band, Danny McCulloch was not only a talented bassist but could sing well enough to provide back up to Burdon. McCulloch was with the band for almost two years, and when he and Vic Briggs left the band during the summer of 1968, Briggs produced McCulloch’s first solo album, Wings of a Man. McCulloch was the bassist for Reg King, the former lead singer of the British R&B band The Action, on his 1971 solo album. In 1995, he released an all-star concept album entitled Beowulf.


    Barry Jenkins—Drums
    (1944 - )

    The longest tenured member of Eric Burdon and The Animals, drummer Barry Jenkins was recruited to succeed John Steel in the line-up of the original Animals. When Burdon dissolved that band, Jenkins was the only member he kept. Following the break-up of the group, Jenkins played on ex-Boys/Action lead singer Reg King’s self-titled 1971 solo album.



    Simon and Garfunkel

    Paul Simon—Vocals, guitar
    Art Garfunkel—Vocals

    Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel had enjoyed a top 50 chart hit together nine years before the Monterey Pop Festival—“Hey, Schoolgirl,” credited to the duo of Tom and Jerry, was their answer to the Everly Brothers’ sound. Over the next few years, the two school friends moved in and out of music, Paul Simon becoming a seasoned professional musician and songwriter while Art Garfunkel kept his hand in singing while planning for a career as an architect. By 1964, they’d rejoined each other as part of the folk music scene in Greenwich Village and landed a contract with Columbia Records, which resulted in an acoustic folk album called Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.—that disappeared without a trace. Fortunately, one of the Paul Simon originals on that LP, “The Sounds of Silence,” started to get airplay in a few college communities. Columbia Records took notice and producer Tom Wilson, without consulting Simon or Garfunkel, had the presence of mind to dub an electric band over the original acoustic recording and release it as a single—it topped the charts late in 1965, and suddenly the duo, who had parted company in the wake of the first album’s disappointing sales, had a hit and a future. They spent the rest of the decade defining it musically; the combination of their voices and Paul Simon’s songs, coupled with their shared arrangement and production work with engineer Roy Halee, created a body of work every bit as popular and influential as that of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, or The Rolling Stones.

    Paul Simon—Vocals, guitar
    (1941- )

    It’s been said that there are no second acts in American life—Paul Simon is an exception to that notion, enjoying at least three equally successful and distinctly different phases in a 45-year career. He started out professionally at age sixteen, in the tail-end of rock and roll’s first wave, and his career has bridged the gap from street-corner harmony singing to world music, London coffee houses to 100,000 seat arenas; and the music coming out of it has delighted and sometimes profoundly moved audiences on six continents. Simon was a fan of the Penguins’ “Earth Angel” in 1955, and by 1958 he and his friend and classmate Art Garfunkel had their own brief brush with rock and roll success, in the form of the single “Hey, Schoolgirl.” In the years that followed, Simon wrote and recorded songs under various pseudonyms, worked at the New York pop music factory known as the Brill Building, and showed up as a sometime singer with the Brooklyn-based harmony vocal group, The Mystics. He moved into folk music in the early/middle 1960s, back into partnership with Art Garfunkel in what initially seemed like a failed effort. Then it was off to England for a solo career, where he became a protégé of British folk legend Martin Carthy (from whom he learned “Scarborough Fair”) and singer/songwriter Jackson C. Frank. In late 1965, his career as a recording artist and songwriter exploded when Simon and Garfunkel hit the top of the charts with “The Sounds of Silence” single. In 1971, following the duo’s decision to split up, Paul Simon emerged as a solo artist—he soon found himself playing to large audiences and enjoying major chart success with a string of hit singles and albums. Despite this success, Simon and Garfunkel still loomed in his past, and the 1982 concert in Central Park by the duo, and the accompanying television special and live album, and their subsequent tour, spoke volumes about the potency of the team. After leaving the partnership behind again during the mid-1980s, however, Simon would find international success, on a bigger scale than ever, as he incorporated the sounds of South African and Brazilian musicians seamlessly into his work.

    Art Garfunkel
    (1941 - )

    Art Garfunkel had the voice that everyone knew at the time, an angelic tenor with an astounding range; but as the non-songwriting half of the partnership, in an era when Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, et al were attracting as much attention for their compositions as their recordings, Garfunkel was often subtly slighted as little more than a pretty voice. Without his voice in the duo, however, it’s arguable that Paul Simon would never have found even half the audience that he did for his songs; additionally, while Garfunkel never composed in the formal sense, his intuitive skills as an arranger, shaped the duo’s sound far more than his status as a lead singer would lead one to believe. Not as devoted to music as Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel started the 1960s with every intention of becoming an architect. Then, in late 1965, “The Sounds of Silence” hit, and he and Paul Simon were joined at the hip professionally for the next five years. During that time, they gradually grew apart musically, and Garfunkel also became fascinated with moviemaking and acting—this led to his role in Mike Nichols’ Catch-22, the extended shooting of which in no small way hastened the inevitable dissolution of the duo. He emerged as a serious actor in Nichols’ Carnal Knowledge, and then resumed his singing career, enjoying a top-ten hit with Jimmy Webb’s song “All I Know” and a hit album with Angel Clare (1973). In subsequent years he saw chart success with renditions of “I Only Have Eyes for You” and its accompanying album Breakaway (1975), and “(What A) Wonderful World” and the album Watermark (1977)—though the biggest hit with which he was associated in the 1970s was “My Little Town,” a reunion with Paul Simon, and, in the 1980s, the Simon and Garfunkel concert in Central Park, the tour that followed, and the subsequent live double album.



    Saturday afternoon

    Big Brother and the Holding Company
    featuring Janis Joplin

    Janis Joplin—Lead vocals
    Sam Andrew—Vocals, guitar
    James Gurley—Lead guitar
    Peter Albin—Bass
    David Getz—Drums, percussion

    Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin, was the greatest of the new discoveries coming out of the Monterey Pop Festival—Jimi Hendrix was already signed and recording; likewise The Who, who were simply trying to secure a foothold in America, but Big Brother went into the weekend of June 12-14 as a band totally unknown outside of San Francisco and came away with a legend coalescing around them. The “overnight” success was two years in the making—Big Brother and the Holding Company had been formed in San Francisco in 1965, following a chance meeting between guitarist/singer Sam Andrew and bassist/singer Peter Albin. In mid-1966, inspired in part by the success that a rival group, Jefferson Airplane, was enjoying with the presence of a female lead singer, Signe Anderson (soon to be succeeded by Grace Slick), Big Brother decided to add a female vocalist to their line-up—their choice was Janis Joplin, who joined in June of 1966. She carried the group farther into blues, and toward a harder brand of blues at that, pushed by her singing, which was often compared to Bessie Smith or Billie Holiday. The sheer power of her voice spurred the group to new heights of invention, and by the time of the Monterey Pop Festival, they’d hit their stride as a high-wattage, electric blues-based rock band. Columbia Records president Clive Davis, who was attending the Festival, immediately put the machinery in motion to extricate Big Brother from a contract with the jazz label Mainstream, and get them onto Columbia. One of the most expensive deals ever executed for an unknown recording act, it paid off with dividends when the Cheap Thrills album was released in August of 1968. It hit the number one spot, going gold almost immediately and riding the charts for 66 weeks. Ironically, Cheap Thrills was the only finished album that Joplin would ever do with the group—she parted company with them late in1968, though Andrew tagged along for a time as a member of her next group, the Kosmic Blues Band, before it, too, was disbanded. They all returned to rejoin a reactivated Big Brother and the Holding Company that included Nick Gravenites in its line-up, but none of their post-Joplin recordings ever moved the numbers as those with her. Despite several extended periods of inactivity, however, Big Brother and the Holding Company has endured in various forms as a performing unit to the present day.

    Janis Joplin—Lead vocals
    (1943 - 1970)

    Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Janis Joplin was a bad fit with the tempo, mores, and people of the rural southwest of the 1950s, a misfit in childhood and high school who gravitated toward the wilder side of life and the harsher side of music, including the blues of Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. One could also, in her middle-late 1960s performances, pick up the influence of her slightly older contemporary, Koko Taylor. Joplin gave a spellbinding performance at Monterey.

    For all of her renown, Joplin left behind a surprising level of controversy. She could give voice to almost any side of the blues, but her frequently adopted musical persona—sounding like late-era Billie Holiday—also made her look ridiculous to some serious blues listeners. White female blues singers who have come along since have also been known to express resentment over Joplin and the fact that she seems to have permanently defined an expectation of over-the-top histrionics for white blues-women. In any case, rock audiences of the late 1960s were charmed by this white girl from Texas willing to take on not only the repertory of Bessie Smith, but also covering songs written by Chester “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett and hymns like “Amazing Grace.” She remains, along with Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, one of the defining, iconic figures in late-1960’s rock.

    Sam Andrew—Vocals, guitar
    (1941 - )

    The son of a career military officer, Sam Andrew was born just in time to become a fan of the first wave of rock and roll. By 1957, he was leading a group called the Cool Notes and steeped in the guitar sounds of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, and even appeared on television in Okinawa, in a locally broadcast “record hop” program. His father’s transfer to an Air Force base in northern California made it possible for Andrew to become part of the mid-1960’s San Francisco music scene. He subsequently crossed paths with Peter Albin and the two organized the band that became Big Brother and the Holding Company. The band’s period of greatest success lasted from June of 1967 until the end of 1968 when Joplin announced her exit, taking Andrew with her into her next backing group, the Kosmic Blues Band. Andrew later returned to his former band, and has remained with Big Brother and the Holding Company during its various phases of activity over the last 33 years. During the early 1970s, he took advantage of a break in Big Brother’s activities to formalize his musical training at the New School and the Mannes College of Music in New York, and has gone on to write film scores, chamber music, and a symphony.

    Peter Albin—Bass
    (1944 - )

    Co-founder of Big Brother and the Holding Company with Sam Andrew, Peter Albin grew up in San Francisco and was a fixture in the city’s burgeoning folk-music scene during the early 1960s. The two of them, along with drummer Chuck Jones (later replaced), formed the core of what became Big Brother and the Holding Company. By then, Albin had taught himself to play bass, and a second guitarist was needed, a spot eventually filled by Albin’s friend Jim Gurley. The quartet struggled to get noticed in a music scene that included The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, The Charlatans, and The Flamin’ Groovies, and finally decided to try adding a female singer—Janis Joplin. When Joplin split with the band at the end of 1968, Albin and drummer David Getz joined Country Joe and the Fish, where they remained for eight months. But by the end of the 1969, he rejoined Big Brother and the Holding Company.

    Jim Gurley—Guitar
    (1941 - )

    The son of a stunt car driver in Detroit, Jim Gurley occasionally served as a human hood ornament, riding the front of one of his father’s cars as it plunged through some obstruction. Gurley taught himself to play guitar, and quickly learned how to coax strange, unearthly sounds out of his amplifier. By 1965, Gurley had acquired a reputation for his wild guitar flights, and was one of the founding members—with Peter Albin—of a proposed spaced-out folk band, to have been called Blue Yard Hill. That group never quite got it together, but it did become the jumping off point for what became Big Brother and the Holding Company.

    David Getz—Drums, percussion
    (1938 - )

    The last member of Big Brother and the Holding Company to join, David Getz has had the most successful career outside of music. Born in New York, Getz had already earned Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the San Francisco Art Institute, and was teaching there, when the offer came to replace departing drummer Chuck Jones. Throughout his career in music, including the frantic first two-and-a-half years with Big Brother and eight months as a member of Country Joe and the Fish, he never lost sight of his work in the visual arts. In the 34 years since Big Brother’s heyday—with the band still occasionally touring and recording— he has had a successful career as an artist, in paintings, drawings, and mixed media.



    Quicksilver Messenger Service

    John Cipollina—Lead guitar
    Gary Duncan—Lead guitar, vocals
    David Freiberg—Bass, vocals
    Jim Murray—Guitar, vocals
    Greg Elmore—Drums

    Quicksilver Messenger Service started life during the folk-rock boom as an electric backing band for singer-guitarist-songwriter Dino Valenti. Before they could develop in that capacity, however, Valenti was arrested for drug possession and received a prison sentence. Rather than splitting up, however the group continued on without their front man, and over the next two years, the group proceeded to astound audiences in San Francisco with their performances, consisting of extended jams, stretched out through Cipollina’s shimmering angular lead guitar lines. For a time, the two top acts in the city were “the Quick and the Dead (The Grateful Dead),” but at the time of their appearance at Monterey, Quicksilver had yet to be signed by any label.

    Later in 1967, they got a spot in Jack O’Connell’s Haight-Ashbury documentary Revolution (1968), and on the accompanying soundtrack album. By the end of the year—by which time singer-guitarist Jim Murray had exited—they were under contract to Capitol Records. It wasn’t until a year after Monterey that their self-titled debut album was released, but it only captured a faint echo of the band’s dynamic live sound. Their second album, Happy Trails, was somewhat more representative, highlighted by the presence of a 25-minute jam growing out of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.” After that, the line-up began to splinter, as Gary Duncan quit and was replaced by British keyboard virtuoso Nicky Hopkins, for the album Shady Grove. Duncan returned soon after its release and it was at that point that Valenti finally rejoined the group, after attempting to restart his solo career following his parole from jail. This expanded Quicksilver line-up lasted until 1972 when Cipollina, Freiberg, and Hopkins all left—the remainder of the group, effectively led by Valenti, carried on with hired replacements for two albums before officially disbanding in 1973.

    John Cipollina—Lead guitar
    (1943 - 1989)

    If there was a guitar “god” in mid-1960’s San Francisco, it was John Cipollina—his lead playing with the Quicksilver Messenger Service was the highlight of their sound and their performances. He was a veteran performer, born in Berkeley, California, who had been impressing audiences with his virtuosity from the age of seventeen, and by 1965 he ended up a genuine rival of Jerry Garcia, even if Quicksilver as a band never drew more than a fraction of The Grateful Dead’s audience. Cipollina’s exit from the band in late 1970, to form the group Copperhead, sounded Quicksilver’s death-knell. He suffered from chronic health problems for most of the 1980s, even as he bounced between a half-dozen or more bands. He died in 1989.

    Gary Duncan—Lead guitar, vocals
    (1946 - )

    Gary Duncan (born Gary Grubb) was one of two members of a garage band called The Brogues to join the Quicksilver Messenger Service. Born in San Diego, he developed a strong lead guitar attack on his instrument and, by age nineteen, was one of the better players on the local band scene, working under the name Gary Cole. After the Brogues split up, he joined Quicksilver, and his style instantly slotted in with Cipollina’s more adventurous approach, turning them into one of the most formidable double lead guitar teams in San Francisco. He left the group in 1969 and tried to form a new group with Dino Valenti, but the two ended up rejoining Quicksilver in 1970. Duncan left music for a time in the early 1980s, but has since revived the group and its name.

    Greg Elmore—Drums
    (1946 - )

    California-born Greg Elmore entered music professionally as a member of the Brogues, a garage band that managed to release two singles in 1965 before splitting up. The drummer jumped into the line-up of the early Quicksilver Messenger Service along with his fellow Brogues bandmate Gary Duncan, and stayed with them through 1972. He participated in various reunions of the group during the 1970s and 1980s, and has also played on recordings by groups such as Terry and The Pirates and ex-Flamin’ Groovies member Mike Wilhelm.

    David Freiberg—Bass, vocals
    (1938 - )

    Boston-born guitarist David Freiberg was already a veteran professional musician at the start of the 1960s. He was a guitarist/singer on the folk revival scene when he joined Quicksilver, switching to bass because three of the other members already played guitar. His contribution was much larger than playing bass and singing—his vast knowledge of folk songs provided the band with a big chunk of the raw material for their jamming. Freiberg left the group following an arrest for drug possession in the early 1970s; he resumed his music career playing on albums by David Crosby, Grace Slick and Paul Kantner, Mickey Hart, and Robert Hunter, but his decision to join the late-era Jefferson Airplane was the most lucrative he ever made—he stayed with the group into its transition into Starship, and had a decade’s worth of success there.

    Jim Murray—Guitar, vocals

    Originally a guitarist and harmonica player, Jim Murray was playing San Francisco folk clubs when he was persuaded to join the Quicksilver Messenger Service. He remained with the group until the second half of 1967.

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