David Freiberg

David Freiberg Interview
By John Barthel

Wednesday… September 4, 1997 10:12 A.M. PDT

It was a warm sunny morning, as I drove through the rolling oak covered hills of Marin County. I had just left the town of Navato California and was heading towards David's place, when the tape I was listening to went into "Pride Of Man". It was then that I really got exited about the upcoming interview with David Freiberg. Thinking of how lucky I have been, to be able to interview not only Gary Duncan earlier in the year, but now also David Freiberg. As any fan of Quicksilver Messenger Service knows, David was a major part of the group. Now here I was, driving up to his place.

David meets me outside of his recording studio, known as Free Mountain Studios. He gave me a warm smile and a hearty handshake. By the time we walked into the studio, I had felt the butterflies leave me. David's studio was full of state of the art equipment. Computers, instruments, control board, sound proofing and Jefferson Starship's gold record awards lining the walls.

After meeting David's love…Linda, we headed for a tree-shaded patio. A light breeze blew through the leaves, and wind chimes tone added to the pleasant environment. David's world had melted away the last of my worries. We sat in that magical setting and soon went to work on the interview.

John Barthel: We’re here with David Freiberg in his studio in the outskirts of Novato. Very nice place. I have a list of questions here that I will attempt to get through chronologically. I was just wondering about your formative years...I like to think of them as High School years, Junior high... What kind of music (if any), were you involved in back in those days?

David Freiberg: Classical

JB: I heard you played the cello?

DF: Violin and viola.

JB: Viola… that’s the word. You did that with a high school band?

DF: High school band, orchestra, string quartet, till I was...um...well, through my sophomore years. Then I quit...stopped playing. I was pretty good too! Made All-State! [laughs]

JB: I guess this is here in California?

DF: No, it was in Ohio. Cincinnati, Ohio. Then I got pissed off at the orchestra leader and went out for the baseball team.

JB: Did you make it?

DF: They had to take me...[laughing] ...No, they never put me in a game...that was within reach!

JB: What years are we talking about here?

DF: Well, let’s see... I graduated from high school in 1956. OK! So you can figure that part out...

JB: Yes! So... you weren’t really into any popular music at that time?

DF: Well! I listened to it. Elvis was happening at that time, and we listened to it...you know... my family were very classical music oriented. My grandfather was an orthopedic surgeon, but his big love in life was playing 2nd violin in a string quartet (where he was the only amateur) Everybody else was symphony orchestra members and such, so I was always pushed that way, and if I had wanted a guitar. I wouldn’t get it. You know what I’m saying? I probably wanted to play the guitar but never did. I didn’t buy a guitar till I moved out here actually...never intentionally.

JB: How’d you end up out here?

DF: To not be in Cincinnati! [laughs] Went through a whole bunch of stuff. Got married to somebody that my parents didn’t like and it got really strange so we moved out here. And even then, I was just working for the Railroad. Then the wife left disappeared without a trace, no note, no anything. And I couldn’t figure out what to do. So I went to talk to the police and they said… " we can’t take the report, sir". I don’t know why...3 days.? That really threw me. I didn’t know what to do. Somehow, all the thought that came to my mind was, I had to buy a guitar, what that had to do with it...I don’t know. But I went out and bought this guitar...it was made by Washburn. I can’t remember the name of it. I think it was from the 30’s, it was made for Montgomery Ward to sell. But it was a real Washburn. And I started getting a lot of folk guitar books and taught myself how to play. Started hanging out in coffeehouses. Eventually ...she came back...she disappeared...then came back pregnant with somebody else’s. So eventually …it didn’t really last forever. And so...meanwhile...I started hanging out in coffeehouses and watched people sing and play. People would get up on hootenanny nights and I said..."Gee, if they can get up there..." You know? So I started doin’ that...and within two years, I was working with this girl named Michaela. David and Michaela that was…

JB: That’s right I actually have that written down...

DF: I figured you would…[laughs]...and I was working on weekends, working the coffeehouses. And after about two years, on most weekends, I made more money than I did working for the Railroad...so eventually ...I just quit.

JB: We’re talking late 50’s now?

DF: No. I moved out here in late ‘59, so we’re talking 1962... something like that...that’s how long it took me to get around to doing that. And I ended up being a 12-string picker.

JB: Kinda like Roger McGuinn…or Jim?

DF: {laughing} Yeah…Jim.

JB: When you went into these coffeehouses, I read in David Crosby’s autobiography, that you had met Dino Valenti and McGuinn...

DF: Yeah, we ran into all those people. We ran into Dino Valenti on North Beach...and was just dumbfounded by that energy.

JB: Did you actually play with them?

DF: Well, you know, this is Folk Music. Generally, you wouldn’t get on stage with them. Everybody had their own little act. But everybody would hang out and just sit and pick … after... go to the park...go to somebody’s house...smoke a bunch of dope, and pick and sing all night. Trade songs. Jam. Hootenanny...whatever you want to call it. [Laughs] Then I ran into Crosby down in Pasadena, when Michaela and I were down there. The manager of the IceHouse was trying to manage our careers and get us recording contracts and stuff. And Crosby came too. He was singing with Les Baxter’s Balladeers. He and his brother...and we smoked some pot together and all of a sudden formed a "bond". And all of a sudden, everytime I’d run into him, it’d be like...cool. Next time I ran into him, I think, was at the Charles Van Damme’s in Sausalito. We heard Dino was there, or something like that, and Paul Kantner. I’m getting way ahead of myself. It gets all confused here...[laughs]...Paul Kantner and I were living in Venice trying to be folk heroes, and Crosby was there all the time. He just slept on people’s floors, and every now and then he’d come out there, bring a bunch of dope. Turn us on to his connection and we’d funnel pounds up to Northern California, every now and then, little extra curricular activities! One time I just hitchhiked back up cause we heard Dino and everybody was at this cool place in Sausalito, called the Charles Van Damme. An old guy, "Buddha", was running it, who I’d met in San Diego. I mean this is where it gets strange...all connected.

JB: You kinda came up and worked the West Coast. Did you work the East Coast at all?

DF: Yeah, more or less. Went there with Michaela once, with this guy from the "Ice House"...right after Kennedy was assassinated. So that was ‘63, ‘64? Winter of ‘63. He booked us back in Minnesota, Oklahoma, Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC and had a show at The Bitter End in New York.

JB: Did Michaela go on with her career?

DF: She got married to this guy named Bob Conger and as soon as she got married, she stopped smoking pot. They were both pot smokers before...and when they got married they stopped smoking pot because it was illegal. Then they were getting at me because I was still smoking. I remember we were riding around in a Rambler, Bob was playing bass and it was on the roof. Right, we were driving through Minnesota. Christmas week…COLD! We were booked for a week at a folk club in St. Paul, and the whole week the high temperature was 13! That was the high...the whole week we were there. That was pretty funny....

JB: I’ve never lived in weather like that.

DF: People tend to snuggle up a lot...so that was kinda cool...[laughs]...

JB: You mentioned trying to work something out with Kantner...

DF: Oh yeah! That was after Michaela though, so this is kinda jumping around a lot....

JB: That’s okay...we’ll manage it....

DF: I remember hitchhiking from Sausalito with Crosby, back down to LA. We both got stuck in Big Sur...went down "1"…for some reason...scenery...[laughs]...and so we got stuck in Big Sur...couldn’t get a ride....I remember we were both sitting there fantasizing...both of us....fantasizing getting picked up by Joan Baez. Didn’t happen anyway. I think Crosby stayed there and I kept on going. He remembers that too. I was wondering..."Did that really happen?" So I sent him E-mail and asked him. He said "Yep, that really happened, David. Didn’t you read my book?" And I said "I’ve never read your book, David". Ops! [laughs]

JB: I read that. It was an interesting book, up to the point he started having serious problems with his drug addiction.

DF: I heard he was quite frank about everything.

JB: Yeah...very...seemed to be very much so...

DF: Guess getting sent to prison saved his life....

JB: Seemed to be real grateful… Now! It’s been a couple of years... since his liver transplant?

DF: Yeah that’s about when I was writing him a bunch of E-mails. While he was recuperating.

JB: Yeah, I saw him a couple of times since then myself. I never got a chance to talk to him, but I saw him perform.

DF: Yeah, I missed him this time around.

JB: So...with Kantner...did you actually perform with him?

DF: Actually...we never got a gig. We had the ideas…thought it’d be cool. We kept going out, trying to Audition. Never happened. We were both too...stoned! No that couldn’t be... Naw! Can’t be too stoned! We were trying to be folk singers and it really wasn’t happening anymore. What passed for folk music were The new Christy Minstrels, or The Serendipity Singers and all that crap. We weren’t …THAT... [laughs]

JB: You mentioned Valente in there. Do you remember the first time you actually met him?

DF: Sure, Coffee and Confusion in San Francisco. That was the name of the place...Coffee and Confusion. Before that it was the Fox and The Hound, two doors down from The Coffee Gallery on Grant. I guess Michaela and I were playing there and he came in and did this set and he was stomping his foot so hard that...I just completely blown...and so we smoked some doobies after the show and went back and hung out with him for a couple of days. I had this VW van and I was sleeping in it at that time. And I could never figure out..." Is this guy using me? What’s going on here? Or is it both"? And eventually I had some Michaela gigs…so I had to go.

JB: You mention all these coffeehouses and folk singers and Gary Duncan had mentioned it was kinda like a beat...

DF: Yes, it was just the end of the Beat Generation...yeah...you know...

JB: So...you had the poets and…?

DF: Yeah, the leftovers of the Beat, but they were mostly gone then. Ginsberg wasn’t around. City Lights was here, also Ferlenghetti was still around. We ran into a few...you know. We weren’t hippies then. We were all fairly shorthaired. If anything we were on the end of the beatniks. I guess I was kinda a tail-end beatnik... I guess...at that point.

JB: Did you ever run into Jerry Garcia?

DF: Sure, of course...how could you avoid him? We were all playing in the same places. He was playing in The Black Mountain Boys...I think. He was playing banjo...mostly doing bluegrass stuff. I really liked that. But I didn’t have the "chops" yet...you know. I was busy learning how to 3 finger pick and doing all this stuff. We played around a lot... you know... I knew him and he was playing and there were other guys. A lot of people that really made it in Country singing, were playing bluegrass up here. That banjo player...Herb Pederson...he’s pretty big now... plays on everything...moved to LA though...Nashville now...I think.

JB: So, that was not really a folk type of music that they were playing…it was more Bluegrass?

DF: It was all folk music…blue grass... I mean my hero was Pete Seeger. I remember when he got The Presidential Honors at the Kennedy Center. For all the stuff he suffered for being persecuted for. Being...I guess a communist at one point.

JB: Right. I remember hearing about it. Accused of it anyway...

DF: He probably was. He fully admitted that he was. But it was back in the early 30’s…which... [laughs] That really has nothing to do with anything...you know...just meant that he cared about people really is why. Anyway he was great. He still is great. I remember watching the video cast of that and just... brought tears to my eyes... saying "it’s about time......it’s about time".

JB: A lot of the information I got for this interview was from Joel Selvin’s book...

DF: Well yeah, he talked to all of us too.

JB: He mentions that you were...I believe it was 1964...you had gotten busted in San Francisco... in Marin County.

DF: In 64? Yeah. Probably. Kantner and I had moved. What happened after the aborted living in Venice...then we moved. Kantner and the whole family…extended family. A bunch of people… We were hanging out together…"Karass" if you ever read Vonnegut book... that had a "Karass"… Sirens Of Titans. I think it was...anyway.

JB: I have heard of it...never read it.

DF: Karass is a bunch of people you always run into no matter what. You know, that’s your "karass" I still meet some of those people...[Laughs]...anyway... we moved to San Jose. Which is where Kantner was going, to San Jose State when I met him. I met him when I played there with Michaela. We played the CoffeeHouse and he was hanging out there. One of the owners of the CoffeeHouse Michaela ended up marrying. He was Bob Conger. So that’s the San Jose connection. So when I left Michaela we played our last gig ...I think... in Colorado. Which is really funny. This is on the way back from that tour.

JB: The one with freezing temperatures back East?

DF: Uh-huh...Yeah, the freezing temperatures back East and the New York tour. There’s a bunch of stories in there...

JB: Did you and Michaela ever get anything recorded...that you are aware of?

DF: You know ...we did a demo at CBS’s studio. We went in cold...cold to this guy who was kindaexpecting somebody to show up to this A & R guy’s office. And got out our guitars and started playing for him in his office...and he said ..."wait a minute...you guys can play...hang on" [laughs} Took us down to the studio and recorded a demo, and we felt like it was pretty good when we listened to it back. I remember being pretty impressed...but nothing ever happened then because the Beatles were around. You know....who was gonna make a folk record? Nobody…not CBS anyway. Also at the Bitter End...this guy named Paul Rothschild...was working for Elektra or Asylum...

JB: Producer...

DF: He was a producer. He and Judy Collins came in to see our set at the Bitter End...and he gave us a call. We came by his office and he says..."Well, your patterns pretty lame..." Cause we were. It WAS really pretty lame. "But you guys can sing and play really well" he says..."Would you consider singing in a big group? Cause we were thinking about putting a big group together". You know... cause that was what was happening. "Cause you know folk music isn’t gonna last much longer...any longer than this new group called The Beatles". I hadn’t heard of them at that point. So his prediction was that The Beatles weren’t gonna last. They were just a flash in the pan. So we said "Well, we’d think about it". We were on our way down to Washington, to play Cellar Door. So we were on our way down there and we heard The Beatles on the radio... Well I looked at Michaela and said "He’s not right". [laughs] "these guys are fun..." I said....".they’ll be around for a while". By the time we were in Colorado (on this tour) playing our last gig in Denver. That was the night...we were there...when they played the Ed Sullivan show. We saw them on television. I said... I kinda realized [laughs], this isn’t gonna work. Where do I get an electric guitar?

JB: Is that what you were thinking ...going Electric?

DF: No. Where do I get one? I couldn’t imagine playing the stuff. So anyway...after that I knew this wasn’t gonna last...but we had some bookings...or something like that But I went back to San Jose and they went to southern California, and I went to San Jose. Started hanging out with Kantner , then we moved to Venice...then we moved back. Then we moved to San Francisco, and I got busted by making a left turn after 4, where there was no left turn 4 to 6. I didn’t know what time it was. They found pot under the seat, and you know... So I got out on bail and thought I’d better be straight. And got a job with the Freight Forwarding Company, and moved to Marin County. Actually...I got this place that was Dino’s, cause he was in jail... he got sent to jail. So I got this little room that he had been living in, and his dog Mondo...this big Great Dane. So I was taking care of Mondo and living in this...kinda like "in-law" apartment...underneath some peoples house in Mill Valley, until a friend of his…This guy came... Bobby Collins showed up from New York and said he was Dino’s bass player, and that Dino told him he could have the place. I said..."okay" ... and found another place [laughs]. Gave him the dog... you know… He says "And I was supposed to take care of Mondo...too"? So I found a place out at San Quentin Village. So I’d just go to work, come back and get out the 12-string. I was learning all the Beatles songs. I’d sit there and I could see the San Rafael-Richmond bridge and I’d just sit there looking out the window. Singing and smoking till I was really stoned. Singing till I was too pooped and went to bed. Got up and went to work. And did the same thing the next day, and one day there is this knock on the door. It’s this guy named Otis that I’d met in Sausalito. One of the boat people and he asked me if I had any pot. I said... " Well not hardly. Mostly just seeds and stems. Come on in and I’ll get you stoned." We rolled up a doobie and I started singing him all the Beatles songs. I had an audience! Oh Boy! [laughs] Eventually after about 20 minutes, he says "Well, I was looking to score a lid or something. You got any?" I said..."Well... not really, but here’s what I got". I had been cleaning this half-pound or something...for a while. So I scraped something together in a bag and gave it to him, He tried to give me the $10 for it and I said "Naw, don’t give me any money. It’s mostly seeds and stems. You might get a little out of it". He said..."No you have to take it". So I said.... "No…No No No"! So he says..."Well...Here...Here’s five...take five... ". So I took the five and said "Okay, see ya later". Well...he was wired. He had been busted for selling to juveniles. And so...he was gonna turn in his connection. Which wasn’t "me". I mean he never...[laughs}...I had never sold him any dope, or anything ever. So anyway, this guy was out there and they recorded all those Beatles songs.... I always wanted to hear that tape...[Laughs}… But he had a marked ten-dollar bill, but he gave me his own five. So they couldn’t bust me for sales, cause I didn’t take the marked money. But they came back with the warrant. That was "just cause" for a warrant. So they came back the next day and busted me. So…gone again. Then they kept me in Marin County jail for thirty days. Until they just finally said..."Hmmm, you’d better get him out". They "OR’d me, and let me out. Then I started hanging with John and Jimmy in Sausalito. We were all homeless...you know?

JB: How’d you meet John and Jim?

DF: Well...I knew them all cause they were gonna be in "Dino’s Band". Right! Dino was trying to get a band together. So since I was a 12-string player...of course..."He should play bass". Uh! Okay! [laughs] Whatever THAT means...

JB: Weren’t you doing electric at that time?

DF: I had an electric guitar by then...but I didn’t have a bass. I had traded a six-string that I had for somebody’s Gibson ES-135. I think...or something like that.

JB: Well...they probably needed a bass player...is that what the deal was?

DF: Nobody was playing bass. I didn’t have one. Cipollina had a six-string bass, which he took and made into a four-string bass. For a while that I started practicing with. We started auditioning people cause Dino was in jail. The day after I got out of jail I saw Dino, he was out and then the next day they found out he had to go away again. Then he was gone for three years.

JB: At that time had John and Jimmy actually backed Dino?

DF: Naw, they had never played with him...[laughs]...it was all just an idea. But John was playing rock and roll , and he’d back like... Jerry Lee Lewis when he played his Marin County gigs. They would always get a pick up band. I THINK it was Jerry Lee Lewis...

JB: Or was it… I know Chuck Berry was famous for doing that also?

DF: I don’t think he ever did a Chuck Berry, but whatever… John knew all the old rock and roll songs.We were hanging out in the park and oneday Skip Spence came by ...and was this guitar player and we said..."Okay". Kantner was in the Airplane at that point, and they were practicing at The Matrix. He said ...you know...you can come over and practice over there sometime...if you want So every now and then we’d come over, and we brought Skip over. Marty was there and Saw Skip playing guitar with us. And says…"You don’t play drums do ya?" …and Skip says "Well... I played snare drum in the high school marching band." "You got a job!" Cause he LOOKED right... So, he was the Airplane’s drummer...until...he wasn’t so...

JB: So...when you were rehearsing at The Matrix, did you have any idea that you were actually forming a group?

DF: Oh, yeah! We were trying to form a band. We didn’t know what it was gonna be, but we were going to form a band. We knew it was gonna work...absolutely positive. So then while all this was going on... Eventually I had to go to trial for that FIRST bust...that I was out on bail for. And they sentenced me to sixty days. They gave me a week to clean up my affairs. So off I went to San Bruno...San Francisco’s County jail.

JB: Back when you were first getting together with Jim and John...were you also doing any vocals at that time?

DF: Sure...I was the only singer...well...Jimmy was singing some.

JB: He was singing some?

DF: Yeah.

JB: So you got pulled out of that...how long did you end up in San Bruno?

DF: Oh, forty-seven days, or something like that. Good behavior time... [laughs] While this was going on, the first Long Shoreman’s Hall thing/Family Dog thing happened. Jimmy and John went there. I guess he met Chris Brooks, and Gary and Greg were there with this girl named Chris Brooks. So John met Gary and Greg and decided that they were gonna to form a group. So they picked me up from the Hall of Justice. When I got to the Hall of Justice after I got out of jail, I met them. But I still had to see my probation officer and he was out to lunch so we drove around. I got completely fucked up. Smoked a bunch of dope in the car, and went to see my probation officer...[laughs]... Promise...solemnly swearing [laughs]. He says...."I know there’s nothing wrong with smoking pot. It should be legal. But it isn’t, and the thing that I took notice is that you got busted again. So… I recommended that for your first offense that they give you that a sixty-day sentence. So you know it’s a serious thing. So are you going to smoke pot anymore?" "Oh no sir."[laughs] Blasted out of my brain…you know. Anyway...so Jimmy and John said that they’d met these guys...Gary and Greg ...and they’d booked these guys. A drummer and another guitar player Just what we were looking for, and they played rock and roll. So we went down to the basement, and met Chris Brooks. I started sleeping in the basement. Gary and Greg were living in her basement on Water Street, and I was too. And we were practicing on Water Street.

JB: Maybe this is a little before that… There’s another person that is mentioned in several books...Casey...

DF: Casey Sonoban... he was the drummer before... He was a photographer and an old jazz drummer, and his idea was he wanted to play rock and roll. So he got these old parade drumsticks, and he was playing you know...

JB: This was back when you were rehearsing at The Matrix?

DF: Yeah, he was the drummer when we went over with Skip Spence, but he really wasn’t into it.

JB: He just kinda fell away...?

DF: Yeah, he was a Sausalito guy...he’s still there. He was a good photographer...really good photographer.

JB: So you started playing with…?

DF: So we started practicing down there...and uh…

JB: The five of you?

DF: The five of us.

JB: That eventually led to...I think your first commitment. Which was for the Committee?

DF: Oh right... they wanted us to do The Star Spangled Banner. They were looking for a Star Spangled Banner...a rock and roll ...Star Spangled banner.

JB: And up to that point the five of you had never performed or recorded?

DF: We hadn’t done anything. Somebody had a tape recorder and a microphone, so we just did it.

JB: Electric?

DF: Oh yeah...well...you know...terrible recording. I can’t recall what it sounded like.

JB: Do you remember if it was a straight version of The Star Spangled Banner…or did you guys...

DF: We made a 12 bar out of it... [laughs] ....

JB: About three minutes…or five minutes…

DF: Well...however long it took us to get through the lyrics...[laughs] ...we did the right lyrics. I think I sang it.

JB: That doesn’t exist anymore…that you know of...does it?

DF: Not that I know of.... Alan Meyerson might have it.... I don’t know...he was the director of The Committee. You know what he does now? He’s the director of the Gary Shandling Show...

JB: Oh yeah! That’d be something to hear....

DF: [laughs] I don’t think he has it anymore.. I don’t know. I haven’t asked…of course, Howard Hesseman was there too...in fact. I used to hang at his place a lot when I was a folk singer. When I was living on the bus every now and then I needed a place to go take a shower...and he was the bartender at the Coffee Gallery. So we’d hang… and smoke dope and listen to KJAZ all night.

JB: I remember that station...it was around for quite a few years.

JB: Did Gary do any lead vocals at that time?

DF: Yeah...he did Susie Q... and...

JB: ...and Murray did a couple... I guess?

DF: Gary wasn’t even playing guitar...he was just singing.

JB: That’s what I read. I heard that.

DF: Yeah ...he was just playing tambourine.

JB: He had said that Murray was basically the "B" guitarist.

DF: The rhythm guitarist…I don’t know why. So anyway...then The Committee liked that so much, they hired us for their Christmas party at Muir Beach. And gave us a hundred bucks... I think. The hundred bucks we used to rent the place in Larkspur. The dump in Larkspur...

JB: That went up over the mud flats...?

DF: That went up over the mud flats...see, you know all about it...and the boardwalk...which we burnt behind us ... [laughs]…to keep warm.

JB: Yeah right...thanks to Gary... he shared a lot of that when I interviewed him.

DF: He liked to burn things...[laughs] ...you probably noticed that!…[laughing]

JB: Muir Beach is a beach that is just over here in Marin County, on the other side...

DF: Right

JB: You don’t happen to remember the date on that do you?

DF: Nope. Probably sometime in December 1965..

JB: That’s what I have written down...

DF: [laughing]...I guess it would have to have been then if it was a Christmas party, and we just went out there. They seemed to like that too. They co-signed a loan for us ...I believe...or lent us enough money to buy our first amplifier...which we needed to really start playing. I think for 10% of our total profit. Or something anyway...some ridiculous amount...for $800 they got 10% of everything we made for the rest of our lives…[laughs]…or something like that...! But we re-negotiated that contract and gave them good money...good insurance for their loan cause that was ridiculous.

JB: How did you make the transition from Muir Beach and The Committee, to actually playing in the Avalon and The Fillmore?

DF: I don’t know. We just started practicing and getting more songs. Well we practiced a lot at this little place…in this little place Larkspur. We just did a lot of playing, took a lot of drugs, and got to the point where we got to know what people were gonna do. In truth...the real practice was playing in front of people. I started getting the gigs at The Avalon...moved to Mill Valley then out to…you’d better ask the questions. You ask them chronologically. I jump all over the place...

JB: That’s alright. I was kinda leading into The Fillmore and The Avalon Ballrooms. You also ended up doing some Golden Gate Park…The Be-In...are there any memories?

DF: Man. I try to remember the Be-In. I remember playing it, and I remember somebody cut the electricity right in the middle of the first song we were doing...Pride of Man...I think it was.

JB: What about The Avalon and The Fillmore? A lot of people say that The Avalon was "THE" place to play.

DF: The Avalon was like playing in your living room, and The Fillmore was like for all 1200 of your friends...[laughs]...or whatever it was…is kinda what it felt like. The Fillmore was ‘bucks’.... You’d better start on time or Bill Graham would yell at you.

JB: Right, I’ve read many things about that.

DF: But you know...it was okay. Both places were okay...it was fun to play both of them. A lot of times we’d be playing at The Avalon...and between sets we’d run over to The Fillmore and jam with someone who was playing over there…so…

JB: And they weren’t that far apart either were they?

DF: Naw, it wasn’t that far.

JB: At least the original Fillmore.

DF: Actually…The Carousel was probably just as close. Just go down the end of Market...Van Ness and Market...but by then The Avalon wasn’t there anymore...I don’t think.

JB: I’m naming you as bringing quite a few "Folk Songs"...like you mentioned "Pride Of Man"... for instance in the group.

DF: "Pride of Man" ...yeah...."Babe I’m Gonna Leave You"...and "Codeine"...and that’s about all I brought.

JB: Do you feel that you brought those into band?

DF: Sure. They didn’t know them before I did. They were songs I did when I was a folk singer.

JB: Cause those are great songs...a lot of those ended up on the first album...well no "Codeine" ended up on the Revolution ...[Soundtrack Album].

DF: Yeah..."Codeine" and "Babe I’m Gonna Leave You" is on the Revolution. Yeah, but "Pride of Man" is on the first one.

JB: Murray during this time period was playing harmonica?

DF: He played harp and did some singing. He mostly did Mose Allison songs…"If You Live Your Time Will Come"...and whatever… I don’t remember.

JB: Well...I know you did things like "Smokestack Lightning".

DF: Yeah...but Gary sang that.

JB: I knew that Murray sang on some of the tapes I have...but I could never figure out which ones.

DF: And there’s one song..."I Hear You Knockin" that he did, and we actually recorded it for the first album. But he wasn’t around...he had quit. I think I sang the vocal on it...that might be on the Rhino Collection...I think it is. I didn’t even remember that I had done it, and then I listened to the Rhino thing...and it was. "Is that me?"…[laughs]...

JB: You did some covers back then also like…"Runaway."

DF: We did "Runaway", "Susie Q" and "Back Door Man." I don’t know...you name it we probably did it.

JB: You all were pretty free...kinda like jamming. Some of those songs would go on for quite an extended period of time. Especially like Susie Q...

DF: I guess we stretched anything whenever we felt like it. An instrumental would last us, [laughing]…’till we could figure out a way to get out of it.

JB: You had a lot of fun playing with the five of you?

DF: Oh yeah, and for one summer we lived out in Olema. But all your gigs were like in The Fillmore. So you spent all your time driving all the way from Point Reyes, and all your equipment, take it down to the city and back out again. So Polte got us...he was our manager at the time...Ron Polte...he got us all places in the city. Actually we had adjacent flats. Two flats in one building...where Gary and I were roommates. Greg and the equipment guy were living in the other place, and four blocks away John and Jimmy. Chet said we could practice at The Avalon, so we’d go over…on days and practice at The Avalon. During that period of time...Jimmy decided we were working too hard and it wasn’t what he wanted to do...and he moved to Maui and left. And a lot of people were worried about that. But it was really the best thing. Cause it made Gary play guitar! [laughs] More than he was before. Everybody was worried that it wasn’t gonna be...but "I" knew. Didn’t worry me a bit, cause I just always thought Jimmy was really lazy and didn’t like to play. I’d listen to the tapes with him pittering around...and the band is definitely better off without him, as far as I was concerned.

JB: Did Jimmy leave the group before you played at Monterey?

DF: Nope...he was in it when we played at Monterey...but almost right after that...I think...he left.

JB: Do you have any memories...or anything you’d like to share with us...from Monterey?

DF: From Monterey? Yeah, the LEAST memorable thing to me was us playing. I mean...we just kinda did it. It was in the middle of the afternoon...you know...it was kinda weird. And I remember...I didn’t sing a single song. I don’t know why it was that ...whether it was ME...being full of nerves, or ME being pissed off, or whether it just happened that way...I don’t really recall. But I remember we really didn’t play very well. But the whole idea was "being" there, being one of the artists, and the backstage was just phenomenal. You’d be walking along and "Oh...there’s the Rolling Stones", " OH and there’s…" Everybody you knew…and Crosby was there and "Bear" was there. And everybody was taking a Acid, or STP. I think that "Bear" had invented just for this thing and, like...we’d SEEN Otis Redding. He had already played the Fillmore, so I knew him, but this time he was playing with Booker T. & The MG.’s. I watched that set leaning on "Duck" Dunn’s bass set. That was just great... that was really impressive. And sitting right on stage watching Jimi Hendrix and The Who... and seeing that whole thing. First big Hendrix hit...you know. And Janis...I guess Janis played the same afternoon we did. Her manager Julius...didn’t let them film it, and she wanted to be in the movie so bad. So they actually scheduled her again...so she played one night. So, Big Brother played one night and was in the movie...and of course that’s really what made her famous.

JB: And Quicksilver elected NOT to be filmed?

DF: Right, and I’m just perfectly happy with that.

JB: And you still are to this day, huh?

DF: YES! [laughing]

JB: I know that they just had a special on VH1. Someone dug up some archive film of Quicksilver performing.

DF: Where?

JB: They showed it on VH1... so someone kinda snuck a camera on you guys while you were performing.

DF: Oh, you mean from Monterey?

JB: Yes.

DF: Oh, I’m sure they filmed us. They just couldn’t use it...at that point...we just never signed the release. So I don’t know. It wasn’t worth seeing. Did you see it?

JB: No, well actually...I have a copy of it but I haven’t had a chance to watch it...it’s part of one song... I think I was told you were doing "Pride of Man".

DF: I didn’t DO "Pride of Man"...I don’t think.

JB: You or someone…I’ll have to dig it out...

DF: If we did ‘Pride of Man’...then I sang a song, and I completely remember thinking after the set... "Gee, I didn’t sing anything".

JB: I’ll watch it and I’ll let you know what it is.

DF: Ok! But I’m more interested in what I’m doing now.

JB: So, you guys ended up finally doing some recording for the Soundtrack of Revolution?

DF: Right...after Murray was gone. Actually...we had already been in the studio for Capitol one time. We played for the movie, and then the Soundtrack was something completely different. We just went down and recorded the songs at the studio. One day we completely finished "Codeine" and "Babe I’m Gonna Leave You", from start to finish...and mixed it.

JB: So...your film for the movie and that performance is separate?

DF: It’s in the movie...but that’s not what’s on the Soundtrack album...completely different. Same with Every body else...it was all recorded just for the soundtrack.

JB: Did that help your career out at all?

DF: Not that I can tell...[laughs]...

JB: You got airplay...I remember hearing those two tracks before… on KMPX –FM.

DF: Yeah, I guess it got a little play.

JB: But I don’t know about nationally...

DF: I doubt it...filler for the Rhino thing anyway.

JB: Was Murray in the film version?

DF: I don’t remember.

JB: You said something about ...you had done some recording before that, and you had Jimmy’s name in there. Do you remember doing anything with Jimmy in the studio?

DF: No. I don’t think so. Tried to do a Camaro commercial once...I remember.

JB: Yeah. I’ve heard that.

DF: And I don’t even know if Jimmy was there for that either.

JB: That was one of your earlier pieces...was that Camaro ad?

DF: Yeah. Chevy didn’t take it ...I don’t think...never got used.

JB: Really? It’s floating around out there in the trading circles. So…

DF: Someone’s got copies of it I realize that... BUT I DON"T![laughs]

JB: I thought it came off the radio or something. Whatever they would use it for...TV/Radio?

DF: I don’t think so...I think it’s Ron Polte doing the voice over.

JB: Did you do the lead vocals on those two songs "Codine" and "Babe, I‘m Gonna Leave You"?

DF: Did "Codine". Gary and I might of sung "Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You" together. There’s harmony all the way through.

JB: How did the contract with Capitol come about...for that first album?

DF: We waited a long time, everybody else, even The Dead had recorded before we did. I don’t know. Finally Capitol was really desperate to get somebody else... [laughs]...I guess. It was a pretty good for the times...I guess. We seemed to think that it was. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot of money "NOW". I think it was only...like a $25,000 advance, but it got us a few things.

JB: In one of the publications I’ve read, they came across that Quicksilver wasn’t interested in doing a record. That you were more interested in playing live music and partying, than working on a record. Or were you actively trying to get a recording contract...prior to Capitol?

DF: We figured it would probably happen when it was supposed to happen. We knew the only way to really do it was to make a record, but we didn’t want to make one. Then we heard the results of people making records too fast...[laughs]…we got the right deal. Big Brother made a...

JB: That’s exactly what I was thinking of mentioning....on Mainstream records?

DF: Yeah, they really got took.

JB: Yeah, in fact...I have just done an interview with Sam, and he was sharing that with me. I know that there are apparently, at least two versions of the first Quicksilver album. One that was recorded down in LA…

DF: Yeah, we did one with Harvey Brooks. We wanted Nick because we knew Nick Gravenites, but he didn’t feel confident enough. And he was playing with the Electric Flag, and Harvey was an experienced producer. So we went down…we did it with Harvey, and I think "The Fool" was lined out. Gary played 12 string first and we overdubbed everything else. I think we actually ended up using a "little bit" of that in the actual "Fool."

JB: There were some horns on some of the recordings.

DF: "Pride of Man". Well it WAS the Electric flag horns that were recorded up here. I think it was just "Pride of Man".

JB: Up here… being in San Francisco?

DF: Yeah, we overdubbed that up here. That was from the first recording, so we DID use that and there were some horns on one other song...but it didn’t make it unto the album...I don’t think. But it’s on the unreleased album. I think there’s something...but I can’t recall. Duh! [laughs]

JB: I have copies of it myself and I don’t remember which ones have horns in them...

DF: And then Harvey mixed it and said "This is it." Everybody listened to it and said "Not it, Harvey!" [laughing] "Uh, I think we’d better re-do some stuff." So we came back up and played all the things live for a few months, and practiced like we wanted to. Then went back in with Nick and Pete Welding and re-did what we needed to re-do, and that’s how it went… pretty well. Actually...I "still" think it was pretty good.

JB: I think with a lot of people ...it’s their favorite. I was wondering if there is there any particular stand out tracks on that first album that you like?

DF: "Gold and Silver"..."The Fool"... I don’t know... "Pride of Man."

JB: Mark Skobac (from the Quicksilver list) helped me put all these questions together. I don’t know if your remember him or not...he put the list of live gigs together [on the web page]. He asks this question..."What is "The Fool" all about?".

DF: I don’t know... I just wrote ‘em! [laughs].

JB: Was it more to go with the music, or did the words come first?

DF: Came before the music.

JB: Really...?

DF: Took acid once, one night and in the morning those words were on a piece of paper that was in the typewriter. I had typed it out. If you can imagine typing when you’re stoned on acid, but there they were…just like that…I don’t know. I mean they’re kinda self-explanatory. They’re about..."Vision of the World!" Of "Life’s Eternal Truth"...[laughs].

JB: Do you remember which songs you sang and which ones Gary sang?

DF: Sure..."Pride of Man"..."Light Your Windows". We both sang "Dino’s Song." I guess I did "Too Long"...and I sang " The Fool". So I did most of them on the first one and Gary sang all of them on the second.

JB: And you have Dino’s Song...written by Dino...how did you end up with the song?

DF: Actually I brought that. ‘Cause I had learned that from Dino before he went to jail and so...we always did that one, and everybody always liked that song.

JB: It was a nice song...yeah. There were two that you recorded...I think basically during that time, but they never ended up on the album ...and they were Bears...

DF: Oh, no. This was later...

JB: What was the other one... I forget?

DF: We decided we needed a single or something before...um..."Stand By Me".

JB: "Stand By Me" that’s it.

DF: "Bears" was something I did when I was a folk singer. It was kinda like this little fingerpicking thing that a guy named Roger Perkins wrote. Influenced by Winnie the Pooh, but I just learned it from Roger. I don’t know what ever happened to Roger...

JB: And "Stand By Me" was another Dino song?

DF: "Stand By Me" was another Dino song...yeah.

JB: You learned it again from him?

DF: Yeah, some people really liked that!

JB: Which one "Stand By Me" or Bears?

DF: Yeah, "Stand By Me"..."Bears" was just kinda cute, but "Stand By Me" I thought it was just terrible…

JB: So this came out prior to the first album?

DF: No, after the first album it was supposed to be a single. It did get released as a single, but I don’t think we ever put it on an album.

JB: So we’ve moved beyond the first album and prior to recording the second album. I seemed like...listening to the first album they weren’t that long a tracks....

DF: "The Fool" was 13 minutes...

JB: Thirteen...yeah? The question is...and I think you answered this earlier...how do you get into those long jams that are instrumental?

DF: Question is "how do you get OUT of them?" [laughs] I don’t know...the audience would go for anything we wanted to…[do]. I used to be really worried when I was at the Avalon. You know, John’s guitar was ...he used the skinniest strings he could. He always used his Bigsby, which would put the strings out of tune, and so he’d never be in-tune you know. After every song, every note he played he use the Bigsby... So he’d be out of tune after every song, so he’d have to tune.... right And it would take him...we’d be standing there five...ten minutes. Waiting for him to get in tune, I used to worry about it..."Come on ...we gotta get going..."...and all of a sudden…One time I was at the Avalon, really stoned and watching. I looked at the audience and they were enthralled watching John trying to tune his guitar...completely entertained. So I realized... "Oh, we can do anything we want. Why worry about it." So it’s the same kinda attitude, that if you felt like taking a chance…Why not do it?

JB: That was it like for you on the East Coast?

DF: Well that was the only place we really played. We didn’t go out of town, till like the first record...Which was kind of interesting because our record came out in ‘68 right? So the first time we played New York (at the Fillmore East) our record had just been released. Wasn’t really in the stores yet, and we started to play the songs at the Fillmore East. And theoretically…this was in New York and they’d never heard us. Or anything like that. At the opening of every song, we started to get applause.

JB: Just like they knew them, huh?

DF: They did! They’d all been in San Francisco for the Summer of Love. A huge number of people that had been there, so it was really funny. I noticed that. They couldn’t have possibly heard the record ‘cause it wasn’t really out That was funny. So then we just played what we played and it would go over in New York really well, and Philadelphia maybe. And [in] Kansas there were only a couple of people who would know the songs. So that’s how it went.

JB: When you toured, was it an organized tour? Especially the Mid West. Were you by yourself, or did they tie you in with another San Francisco band?

DF: No, we were mostly by ourselves. Only one I can remember really being tied in with another San Francisco band, was a short one we did like up to Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. Maybe with the Grateful Dead. Did we do Vancouver? I think we might have...and Eugene [Oregon]. We did this "The Quick and The Dead Tour"...I think. That was before our first record was out.

JB: Was it?

DF: Cause I remember practicing. I had my viola solo in The Fool. I remember having my viola there… Practicing. Trying to figure out what am I gonna play here?

JB: Like when you did play…For instance like with the Grateful Dead, you mentioned earlier about going over from The Avalon to The Fillmore and back, to jam with other groups...

DF: People would. I don’t think I did. I would go over and listen...but I wasn’t much of a jammer.

JB: I was gonna ask how was the jamming! But I guess if you really didn’t do too much…

DF: I didn’t really do it. But you know I’d go over and check out the shows in-between sets. And come back in time for ours.

Quicksilver (Duncan, Freiberg, Elmore, Valente, Cipollina) in Marin County c. 1968   Photo: Jim Marshall

JB: Then Happy Trails eventually got recorded. How did that come about?

DF: That was all live…mostly. That was recorded during our second East Coast tour I think. After that everybody got their own houses, and things like that. Gary started shooting amphetamines. I knew he was DOING amphetamine...I REALLY didn’t realize he was SHOOTING the stuff. I didn’t realize that until after he left. Then I started putting two and two together. But when we got back from the second tour, just before we did the last gig at the Fillmore. Cause that [album] was recorded at The Fillmore East and The Fillmore West. Before we did the Fillmore West tour Gary said "Well I’ve been shooting methadone, and man I can’t do this anymore. I’m gonna have to leave...and me and Dino are gonna form a band and go back to New York." That’s kinda what I remembered. I tried to talk him out of it Actually I didn’t EVEN try to talk him out of it. I went over and tried to talk to him about it and he seemed so set on it. I didn’t even really try to talk him out of it. If that’s what he’s gonna do...that’s what he’s gonna do. It didn’t seem right to me, but he did it. I guess he had to. This is what he had to do, so... But he did one last studio thing. We were playing what turned out being "Calvary", but we’d been kinda playing it at the end of "Mona." There was this couple of instrumentals we’d go through…"Maiden Of The Cancer Moon"...and then we’d go into this "thing" every now and then. So we just took this "thing" he did every now and then. [That] is what we decided to record. Chopped up a bunch of Acid... I think I had two tabs of acid...and so I think we chopped it all up with a razor blade and we snorted it...if I remember correctly. Then all together we played the basic…you know with everybody playing. Then I think we brought ALL the families in. All the mothers and fathers. "Everybody had to BE there," Duncan said.

JB: Big farewell?

DF: Yeah, right and so we were there, and we did this "thing". Couple of takes. And the last take ended up being "the one". And [then] Duncan went to New York and left us there with this kinda "thing".

JB: A void?

DF: Well…yeah, and also this piece that couldn’t be released just as it was cause it wasn’t really finished. It was just us at the end of it. Everybody just...I believe we just had our guitars…feeding back and just set them down and went away and recorded whatever happened as long as the tape lasted. I think. [laughing] And also I had two mikes inside this piano, with the stool sitting on the sustain pedal, so all the feedback was going through the piano strings too. So all that’s on there...!

JB: Well, I LIKE the piece myself. I think it’s great.

DF: I do too! Actually if you ask me what the favorite thing we ever recorded was...that’s it. So Duncan was gone and we had to finish that, and we had to come up with an album for Capitol. So we had all this stuff we had recorded live, and so we just started listening to it...and figuring out what to do. Let’s see what did I do? I overdubbed piano and 12-string rhythm guitar on "Calvary". I think that’s all and while we were mixing…just before we mixed it at Capitol down in LA... we did some sound effects with whips and chains [laughs]…RRRRRRRR!

JB: I’m gonna have to re-listen to that now that you told me.

DF: There’s a little choral thing that happens in there too, which was just everybody getting in there and kinda moaning in tune. I think we even tried to get John Palladino…producing, to come in there and do it with us, but I don’t remember whether he would or not. And so then we just mixed it and put it together, and we had to edit a little bit out of "Who Do You Love", because...I think it was like thirty-five minutes long. We used the center part from a San Francisco gig cause the rest was from a New York gig. So the weird part in the middle though was when everybody was stoned on acid...and the audience was just as much a part of it with the clapping.

JB: Yes, I was gonna ask you if that was organized? Held up signs or something, cause it seems like...

DF: Just happened. Just happened. There was not a thing overdubbed on that record other than on "Calvary", everything else was in..."Happy Trails"! [laughs].

JB: The song "Happy Trails"?

DF: Yeah. Greg’s singing that.

JB: Yes… that’s what I heard.

DF: So anyway while we did that...while we were recording that "Calvary"...George Hunter came in with this album cover..."The Cowboy". He said "Well this should be your album cover." George heard Gary was leaving after this and he said, "Well, looks like happy trails to me". Or something like that! [laughs] that’s one of the stories. Could be true. So I said "Well, we’d better record Happy Trails!"

JB: Duncan played with you one last time...on New Year’s Eve...’68?

DF: Yeah. And then the next time he played with us was the NEXT New Year’s Eve.

JB: Yeah...a whole year...in-between.

DF: Woodstock was in that year. You know I’ve always wonder what would of happened if he hadn’t left, because "Happy Trails" would of come out. Which was...I think…for a long time, a bigger seller than the first one. Got great reviews and we did not do one single gig to support it.

JB: In ‘69?

DF: In ‘69. We didn’t play. And if we had been out there playing something...all these big festivals... could have made a ton of money. Probably would of sold a lot of records and Duncan probably would of died. so...it wouldn’t have been worth it. [laughs]

JB: Yeah...you wouldn’t have the music afterwards...

DF: I don’t know. Whatever. What happened, happened. And it was supposed to be that way and the "what ifs" don’t count.

JB: You did play…

DF: We wouldn’t have met Nicky!

JB: Yeah, Shady Grove was done during that year. You worked on it...

DF: It was real hard…it was real hard to do.

JB: I read that you performed one time during 1969. One billing was as "Nicksilver"?

DF: Yeah, it was kinda like that. We got Nick to sit in with us and we played this gig down in Monterey… I think…and I think we might have played in the park once. But we played without Nicky. Well anyway…so we were trying to find replacement for Gary...for a little while. We tried to put the word out a little bit…slightly…to see if anybody would show up that could play with us, that could replace Gary. Of course nobody even showed up that could even…that EVEN wanted to play with us, as far as I could see! Duncan was the "engine" man, it just didn’t WORK without him…for me. I was really…I was devastated…really. It was really just weird for me. I didn’t like it cause it seemed like it was all on me. I had a lot of publishing from "The Fool" and stuff. I just took it all and said "Here Polte, take the publishing and let’s keep the band going ... see what’s gonna happen here."

JB: How did John take it?

DF: Oh, I don’t know…like John takes everything. "Okay... that’s what we’ll do." So we get together in a little house ... up in Corte Madera ... and practice ... and I was writing a bunch of really lonesome "sad" songs. [laughs] So eventually we had to go record them…so "okay we’ll record them". And at that time…let’s see...Nicky was around....he had played on Steve Miller’s albums, then he played on The Airplane’s "Volunteers" album…and he was still in town. So, we said "well, you wanna play with us too?" And he and John just got along so well, that he joined the band. I don’t know whether he cared for us musically or not…but it was just I think he wanted to stick around.

JB: Well, he did play well with you ...

DF: He played well. Wherever he was ... [laughing]…the guy could play ... you know. But he saved OUR Butts. I know that.

JB: He did contribute to "Edward…" [Brings out the Shady Grove LP and shows it to David]

DF: "Edward the Mad Shirt Grinder"...which is probably the only thing worth listening to on there.

JB: Oh Really?

DF: "I" don’t know...! I listen to these...and I don’t… I mean I like some of these... I like "Too Far", "Shady Grove" was pretty good. I mean the stuff was pretty good. I just didn’t like how it came out.

JB: A lot of studio time? Did you spend a lot of time in the studio coming up with these?

DF: The songs were all there before we went in the studio. We didn’t really write them in the studio. Except for "Edward".

JB: So... it didn’t take like a year to record this?

DF: It looks like it took four months, but I don’t know whether it was steady. It was a bitch to make… I must admit. First one was easier to mix cause all we had was 8-tracks. Second one was 16-tracks.

JB: I remember when I bought Shady Grove. The first copy I bought was an 8 track. You know "car" 8-track...And man, I listened to that thing till I wore that tape out.

DF: You really liked that? You really like this album?

JB: Oh Yeah... The more I listened to it ...the more I liked it.

DF: Okay, "Flashing Lonesome" I think was really a cool song. It’s just how we did it I think was really strange.

JB: So, actually with Nicksilver…or anybody else, did you ever really play any of these live? Like Edward?

DF: We did "Words Can’t Say" and I always did "Edward" with Nicky, but I don’t really remember what we played with Nicksilver. We only did one gig, it was one down in Monterey County Fairgrounds ... or someplace down in Monterey. I remember we did that and then Polte got us into "The Esalen Hotbaths".

JB: Where’s that?

DF: Hot Springs, Big Sur. After the gig and we went down there…while those guys were walking on the Moon. We were looking at the Moon, over the Pacific and we didn’t watch it on television… unlike everyone else in the world...[laughs]

JB: You’re talking about Armstrong...

DF: Yeah. The first man on the moon.

JB: So the album Shady Grove came out, and you guys just waited? How did Duncan come back?

DF: Well ... we were booked at this gig for the Family Dog at the beach, New Year’s Eve, and they showed up. You’ll have to ask Duncan about what happened. You did…I know! What happened during the year he was gone? As a matter of fact, he was in New York looking at elephants… I believe. [laughs] Watching the elephant dance!

JB: So, it wasn’t like you rehearsed or anything he just came out to the beach..

DF: He just showed up, and it worked!

JB: Felt pretty good…?

DF: Felt real good! I don’t know...I didn’t really want Dino in the band, but I wanted Duncan in the band. And the ONLY way to get Duncan in the band, was to take Dino too.

JB: That was one of my next questions. How was your relationship with Dino…both musically and personally?

DF: I know he was just conning me. Conning everybody. To me, that’s what I always thought.

JB: Yeah, way back...you mentioned that when you saw him at coffeehouses...

DF: I mean I liked him ... I LOVED him! But he couldn’t play in a band.

JB: Why’s that? Too domineering?

DF: Yeah, he would never give and take. It was always just his way, or the highway. But I really admired the guy. He had great…HUGE amounts of talent, but someone really fucked him up! I don’t know. [laughs]

JB: I know he was real domineering. When I saw you guys in ’69. You know that New year’s Eve show? And quite a few times after that. He was always the "up front" showman.

DF: Well, he figured that’s what we needed, and I am assuming. I don’t want to say there was anything insidious, or anything, it’s just that’s how he already was. That’s how it had to be. If he was there he had to be out in front. And none of us…"I" wasn’t that way…and Duncan wasn’t that way. No… So maybe it’s what we needed. But I don’t really think it seemed to work out very well. Oh, there was a LOT of GOOD stuff happening...but you know.

JB: I’m gonna fall back just a little bit here...

DF: Go ahead.

JB: You were talking about LSD, STP and Marijuana, and in that music of the 60’s, and probably into the early 70’s. What was called psychedelic music, did that really play that big of a roll in the music?

DF: Sure.

JB: Do you think that for instance, "The Fool" you mentioned, would that have come about without using drugs?

DF: Who could tell? We were…I mean I don’t know. The words were written while I was stoned on acid. I don’t know. And we were "always" stoned. For that period of time…from 1964, say…through ‘80. I’d say I was always smoking pot. If I was awake, I was smoking pot. If I was awake…ALWAYS! Period! I mean, I’d wake up in the morning and light up the roach that went out before… when I passed out. I mean I smoked ALL the time. All "THE" time. And so, it HAD to have been part of it, cause that’s how we were.

JB: You also mentioned the relationship between Nicky and John, being real strong. Who did Dino bond with?

DF: I guess Duncan.

JB: Duncan the most?

DF: Cause from that point…when I first met him. I was trying to figure out if this guy’s my friend, or is he just trying to use me.

JB: You never got over that, huh?

DF: No. I’m pretty sure it was the truth. The carnival thing was always there. You were either "IN" the carnival, or you were a mark. And I knew that. I had talked to him long enough to know he had grew up in a Carnival, and I knew that’s what’s going on. That’s life, you know. And when they thought I was in on it, sometimes I was, but ultimately…it’s #1 that counts. And it’s…You know what I mean?

JB: Right, right.

DF: We got busted one time just before I left…quit Quicksilver finally. We were all going to Hawaii for a vacation and we got busted. Right, and we were sitting there. He and I were the only ones with a "record". And we were sitting there. You know the story? You probably do?

JB: Which one?

DF: The road manager with the bullets?

JB: Oh yes…I do.

DF: He’s getting on the plane and he sets off the metal detector. He runs out emptying a baggie of grass behind him, and he gets tackled by the Air Marshall’s, or whatever they are. They pulled us all out of the plane. We were all just waiting to leave, and they pulled our bags off cause they found the bullets. So they pull our bags off and there’s dope in my bags. There’s an ounce of dope in my bag, and I think I was the only one they found. But Dino mean while, has a bunch or roaches, pipes and stuff... and he’s trying to give them to ME! So… HE won’t get busted. So that just showed me right then and there. Right then I looked at him and I said to myself "okay." And I wouldn’t take them. I said "Man..." [laughs]

JB: Yeah right.

DF: You would like to see me go to jail for three years for YOUR shit. You know.... Forget it!

JB: You got busted?

DF: Yeah.

JB: And how much time did you end up getting?

DF: Another 60 days sentence, which was completely illegal. Cause I was either innocent, or I was supposed to go to State prison. Cause it was my third conviction. But somehow I figured out a way to get me a misdemeanor thing. And while I was in jail, they [Quicksilver] had to keep playing, and I said "Look I haven’t been doing anything but doodling around the organ. Why don’t you guys get an organ player, that can really play, and I’ll go my way… and you go yours." When John, Nicky, and Polte quit, I felt that it was like…"Well shoot, I don’t know what’s going to happen here. But I’m in the band so I feel some responsibility to keep going. So, I’ll give it a year. And if…after a year, I’m not DOING anything, or don’t feel like I’m contributing anything…" Cause it got to the point where it was either...well...everything was Dino, you know. And so after that I said, "Well, I’ll give it a year". So I did. That [bust] was just about a year later.

JB: Was this before you went to Hawaii to record?

DF: No, they all quit right after we got back from Hawaii. We recorded in Hawaii. I was the only one that voted NOT to go to Hawaii and record.

JB: But you ended up going over there didn’t you?

DF: Well...cause everybody else said yes.

JB: What are your recollections of recording over there?

DF: It was a nightmare.

JB: I understand it was out in the sugarcane fields.

DF: We picked a place to build a studio that doesn’t have electricity ...[laughs] So we gotta get a generator for the electricity and it was THREE weeks before we even got started on it, because there was a spike that was evident. So we couldn’t record anything. So we’re sitting there with all these people, keeping them alive. Living in Hawaii with rented cars, convertibles for everybody in the band…of course. And not doing anything for three weeks.

JB: Sunshine…?

DF: That’s what we were doing. We went to the beach. Dino insisted no wives or girlfriends could come over. Because he wants to screw around and he doesn’t want any stories getting back. But only cause we’re gonna create better without them there right? [laughs] But that’s not what it was. And so we did some stuff there that was good. We had a really good piano. I guess there was a couple of tracks there that were pretty good.

JB: So you came back from Hawaii with all these tapes...

DF: And nothing finished. "Fresh Air" was actually recorded over here. I think Dino came up with it down in LA. So he did that down in LA, and it went on our first album. "The first Hawaii album"… The "Just For Love" album. And we mixed it down there at Capitol in LA.

JB: And do you like that album?

DF: I don’t know. I haven’t listened to it. What’s on here? [Looking at the album]

JB: I know "Fresh Air" was like a regional hit...

DF: No, it was national. I think it went top ten.

JB: I remember everywhere I went...it was like an anthem...you know. People were singing it along with it.

DF: There was the "edited" version that didn’t have the marijuana line in it. That was the hit…I think. [laughs]

JB: I don’t remember that one. I wonder if I have a version of it?

DF: Couldn’t have been a top ten hit with that line in it.

JB: That sounds right.

DF: "I smoke marijuana, but I don’t care much for your wars." Or is that "What About Me?" No that’s "Have another hit" Isn’t that in there? Yeah. I get them mixed up. "What About Me?" Dino kinda wrote the same song, over and over again. SEVERAL songs, over and over. As we ALL did. Everybody did that.

JB: So you didn’t really contribute songwriting to this?

DF: When we recorded the other one…That’s when there was one of mine. "Won’t Kill Me"…

JB: On "What About Me" album?

DF: Yeah ... that was from Hawaii too.

JB: Actually on "What About Me" album you start using Mark Naftalin.

DF: Right, cause Nicky had quit. There’s some of Nicky on there isn’t there? Yeah.

JB: You remember playing with Mark. He was with Paul Butterfield.

DF: Oh yeah, I know Mark, sure...but he overdubbed all that stuff. He may have played on a basic of "What About Me".

JB: Did you actually perform with him?

DF: No. Maybe once, but I don’t think so. I don’t recall.

JB: "What About Me" was another real popular song on the radio. Seems to ME that Quicksilver got more exposure because of these albums.

DF: Absolutely.

JB: What lead up to John Cipollina leaving Quicksilver?

DF: John, Nicky and Ron Polte all left the band after we finished recording in Hawaii. I always assumed that their reason was it wasn’t fun anymore. With Dino always being right and everyone else always being wrong.

JB: Was it hard for the group to adjust for John’s departure?

DF: I guess it was…though Nicky left as well. As a matter of fact, I had left as well, though my body stayed a year more.

JB: Then all of a sudden... I believe you had decided to leave the band?

DF: Yes, I said "But I’m not doing anything here! " The only song that was on the last album, was something I recorded a year ago. And that was kinda funny. He was always thinking I was singing about my wife. "Go and leave me if you want to, it won’t kill me". It was really about Dino, it wasn’t about a girl...[laughs]

JB: Oh, I didn’t know about that. During that time period, we haven’t talk about it yet, but there is one other release that came out. The movie "Fillmore: The Last Days". And the soundtrack recording.

DF: That was one of my latter days. What was I playing? I don’t remember. I think I might have been playing bass on that gig. What did we play..."Fresh Air" and "Mojo"?

JB: Well that’s what they had put on the soundtrack album. But on the Quicksilver list, we posted a list of songs performed at that concert.

DF: I never saw that...

JB: Maybe I can forward a copy to you.

DF: How did I miss that?

JB: That was a great concert. But your whole performance wasn’t released. Do You now who know who has the film?

DF: I have no idea. I have no idea where it is.

JB: It’d be wonderful to get that film back out.

DF: The whole set? Must be somewhere.

JB: Yes, the whole set. Bill Graham Presents probably has the film. It would be unfortunate if it had been destroyed over the years. But back to the time line…then you left the group?

DF: Yeah, I left.

JB: And where did you end up afterwards?

DF: I ended up right here.

JB: You’ve been living in this place that long?

DF: Since 1970.

JB: Nice place.

DF: Yes. I didn’t quit to play with anybody else. I just quit cause I knew it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing.

JB: Well, I can remember a few things you played on. I don’t know the years…David Crosby…

DF: Yes, but I was still playing in Quicksilver. Crosby’s album? Solo album?

JB: Right.

DF: Then there’s "The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra" tracks. Did you ever get a copy of that?

JB: Yes I did.

DF: Did you get them from Alan?

JB: I got one from Alan. In fact I got two of them. They have different tracks on them. They’re not the same.

DF: Alan sent me one. I wonder where did he get them?

JB: I don’t know. Seems like he’s got an inside track there. So, I don’t know.

DF: Well, I asked Steve Barncard about it. There’s one of those things that’s on there, where there’s some violin playing. It’s ME…playing viola. [laughs] They thought it was Papa John. So I sent Steve a note saying, "It wasn’t Papa John, it was ME, Steve!" [laughing]

JB: I heard that there… for a while they were talking about possibly having that P.E.R.R.O. stuff released.

DF: They couldn’t release that stuff.

JB: Why not ...too many people ... too many record companies?

DF: Those tapes? Those are just rehearsals.

JB: Yeah but they could release that. I’ve heard worse! Doesn’t sound that bad to me. I’m not a musician though, so...

DF: I don’t know. They probably could. I’d SUE them! [laughs] No I’ve never sued anybody. Okay?

JB: What are the groups or albums that you actually released. Which you played on?

DF: Not that many.

JB: You were on Kantner.s...

DF: Kantner’s "Blows Against the Empire?" That’s about it.

JB: And you worked on… what was it… Mickey Hart’s 1972 "Rolling Thunder" release?

David: Yeah, I worked on Mickey, but it is kind of what I did after I left [Quicksilver], and before I joined the Starship.

JB: How did you get together with Kantner?

DF: Well let’s start from when I left Quicksilver.

JB: Okay.

DF: I came back here and I decided I had been playing organ. I wanted to play bass again with the girls from Ace of Cups. A bunch of them had a band together. I said, "I’ll play bass." I went to see them and their bass player didn’t show up, and I had my bass in the trunk. I played this gig with them just off the top of my head. I ended up playing with them for a couple of months. And started going over to Mickey’s and started hanging out. He was making a solo album. So I started spending most of my time over there. Helping him finish it up, actually engineering, mixing and playing everything. I sang a bunch of songs that he didn’t have done. I did a whole lot of stuff over there, finishing that up. I brought in Paul and Grace on one song called, "Blind John the Guitar Player." After that they had just finished this Airplane album called "Long John Silver" and Marty wasn’t on that. Marty had left the band. They were going to tour and they needed somebody to sing the harmonies Marty had been singing. So they hired me to be in the Airplane, and so off I went to be in the Airplane. We did one tour.

JB: As Jefferson Airplane?

DF: As Jefferson Airplane. I sang. I played guitar on one song. We did "Blind John the Guitar Player." I played guitar on that. And the rest of the time I just played tambourine, bounced around stage and sang harmony and tried to hold the whole thing together kind of, [laughs] Because there was Jorma and Jack and there was Paul and Grace, and they didn’t talk to each other. We did that tour and I was still in the Airplane. I was still getting this check deposited every week in my bank account, which for then was pretty good pay. You know, enough to live on, but I wasn’t doing anything. Nothing. So Paul and Grace had a couple solo projects. One… "Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun" and Grace’s solo album. So we did those, although I wasn’t on artist contract. I didn’t get any royalties. I just went a head did it. Because I was still getting paid from the Airplane and I didn’t have anything else to do. It was fun …and so we did those.

JB: In fact didn’t Duncan came in and played on one of Grace’s solo albums?

DF: It was Grace’s solo album. And there’s one track… she does not appear on that track. She didn’t even sing harmony on that track. [Manhole album’s "It’s Only Music"]

JB: Just the two of you?

DF: Me. Kantner, Johnny Barbata and Chris Ethridge was playing bass… I think. I played piano and 12 string. And on one of the guitar solos, I got Duncan to come in.

JB: At what point did they decide to call themselves, officially like a group, Jefferson Starship?

DF: We went on tour to support Grace’s solo album, and called it Jefferson Starship. And after that.... Didn’t have Pete Sears in that group, but after that tour we started to take it seriously. And it got real it turned into that…and gee! The rest is history.

JB: Your group, when you were part of it, went on to make some pretty major hits.

DF: Yeah, some…yeah, a lot of them.

JB: Quite a few albums…and that went all the way into ’84…‘85?

DF: I left in about ’85…I think.

JB: It was this album that was the last one wasn’t it? "Nuclear Furniture"? [Holding up the album for David]

DF: The last one I was on?

JB: Yeah.

DF: It probably was… I was on it. I remember being on it. That was the last one. Who produced it? Does it say?

JB: It probably does on the inside.

DF: It sure it says here…[Looking at the album] Rob Nevison… yes. [I was on it]

JB: How was it working with Starship versus Quicksilver? Was it like night and day?

DF: Oh yeah.

JB: Did you feel like you were doing something?

DF: It was a band. It all depends on what part of it, or when you are talking about. It fluctuated from when everybody was on the same page, and talking to each other, to when it turned into a bunch of egos. And all we were trying to do is get the next hit record, instead of having fun. You know? It’s just like a band. Bands all seem to be like that. There is a point where you are really all on the same page. Everybody is together and trying to do the same thing. Then there is a point where you have a little success, and everybody thinks it is their fault. And so It happens all of the time.

JB: There was a lot of falling out between you Mickey, Thomas, Marty and that whole thing.

DF: Mickey and Marty were never together.

JB: Right, because Mickey was Marty’s replacement.

DF: Actually he replaced Marty and Grace when he came in.

JB: Well, Grace did came back.

DF: Yeah, she came back, but Marty never did. Now he does occasionally. Now they have dueling Starships out there. You have got Mickey’s Starship and Jefferson Starship.

JB: Which you were supposed to have a legal settle but…

DF: There was. One of them is Jefferson and the other is not.

JB: Right but their still using both...

DF: He wasn’t supposed to be able to use Starship but he say’s, "OK, sue me!" So nobody will.

JB: Now I understand. I was wondering, "How’s he getting by with that…again?" Have you ever participated on any of Kantner’s new revivals, whatever they call themselves?

DF: No. He hasn’t forgiven me for not leaving with him I guess. But that is not like me. I just won’t leave.

JB: Why did you leave the Starship?

DF: Well because they want me in, and I didn’t want to be there because they were doing: "We Built This City" and all. It was at the point where they were going to the studio, and nobody in the band was playing anything. Maybe if they needed a guitar… Craig would play it. It was all producing and it was all hot stuff keyboard players and that is what I was basically playing with them…you know…and that wasn’t me. Why have me around? Why should I be around?

JB: You played a lot of keyboards.

DF: I played a lot of keyboards on it, but I am not really a keyboard player. I use it for input to a computer now, and stuff like that ,but it never was my instrument. I just did it for writing songs because it is a musical typewriter, basically, that is what it is.

JB: Well you are getting some royalties off of your involvement with Starship aren’t you?

DF: Well I wrote "Jane". I get something from that. Plus they still get some royalties. They still get few. They reissued all of the Starship albums, even "Baron Von Tollbooth", on CDs. I haven’t got one yet. I mean "Baron Von Tollbooth". I am looking forward to that one. I think that was probably better than any of the Starship ones…in some ways.

JB: I have it at home...

DF: On CD?

JB: No an album.

DF: There is going to be a CD pretty soon.

JB: I believe it is out.

DF: I have ordered it. I know it is out, but [they] didn’t send me one. Even though I am listed as one of the artists, they didn’t send me one. I didn’t ask them, but I belong to the recording academy. And there’s the Grammy Awards guy and you can order… as they come out. You can order for seven bucks, so I ordered it. But it will be here the end of November… or something like that.

JB:. How did the original Quicksilver Messenger Service get back together…for the "Solid Silver" album?

DF: I don’t really remember. We really didn’t get back together…just a few rehearsals and the sessions. I was in Jefferson Starship at the time, and had to go on the road before the album was finished.

JB: Any songs of "Solid Silver" that you like?

DF: I love "Gypsy Lights."

JB: Did you play live with Quicksilver, in support of "Solid Silver"?

DF: Nope…

JB: Was any of the "old magic" there, when you worked with Duncan and Cipollina on "Solid Silver"?

DF: I’m afraid not very much. That kind of disappeared after 1968. I hear it in Gary’s new stuff, though.

JB: I didn’t go back and research this. Did you ever play on any of Garcia’s first couple solo albums? Do you remember? Something tickles my memory.

DF: Whew, I don’t think so. I might have played on some of Bob Hunter’s early ones.

JB: Let’s talk about what life is like after Starship.

DF: After that? Well I went back with Gary for a little while.

JB: Peace by Piece?

DF: I helped him a little on Peace by Piece. That’s where I met Linda. I was doing nothing and he said, "I’ve got this chick singer coming in. Do you want to come and sing with her?" I said, "Sure I am not doing anything else." So I came down and we sang. It was Linda and we did like background vocals for…It is on Peace by Piece.

JB: I didn’t bring that one. I should have.

DF: You have one?

JB: At home I do, yes.

DF: The first three songs.

JB: The first three? I don’t remember their running order.

DF: "Deja Vu".... "24 Hour Deja Vu"…uh, we will have the CD pretty soon. That I’ll have to sign too…

JB: You sure are. I know that you performed with him around that time.

DF: We both did. Eventually it just wasn’t happening. I had to get out of there. I couldn’t afford to be there. I had to make my house payment and everything like that. All of the money I made down there, went back into paying the rent on the studio. So I just said. Ah.... I thought at the time I left… I thought we were going to lose the studio at that time. Linda got a gig, a dance gig. She got paid two thousand bucks for it so we said, "Well here. Here is a thousand bucks, pay of some of the debt, so you don’t get sued." And then they used it to keep the studio open, so that’s that. So, hey whatever.

JB: You're talking the Power Lounge?

DF: Yeah the Power Lounge.

JB: I’ve been there.

DF: So It’s cool. I’m glad it’s going. I like what he is doing now. He has got some people he likes to play with, and I don’t think I was really...

JB: I saw you on video. Because on PBS they had broadcast the "Earthquake Relief Concert?" I think you were on that.

DF: Yeah, I was there. Linda was singing. I didn’t see the video.

JB: If I sent that to you would you watch it?

DF: Nah....

JB: And one of Gary’s sons comes out on stage and sings a little bit.

DF: Mike? Did Michael come out?

JB: He was little then.

DF: Yeah. That is funny.

JB: You helped Gary on his "Shape Shifter" CD?

DF: Yeah, we did a bunch of stuff on that before I left.

JB: Yeah, It is a very good CD.

DF: He probably should have done this one at a time. It is a lot to digest.

JB: Any tunes off of that CD you enjoyed? Still enjoy?

DF: Sure I like ‘em, "Bubba Jeans," "Life Is So Funky," "Angeline," "Carnival," "I Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore," "We’ll Be Together," "King of China," "Snowman," "Steve McQueen" I am singing on.

JB: You have the vocals on "Steve McQueen?"

DF: Yeah. Me and Gary. "Holiday"…both.

JB: In fact, "Holiday" is one of those that you did at the Earthquake Benefit Concert.

DF: Yeah, we did a lot of these things.

JB: So what have you been doing, after "Shape Shifter?"

DF: Lots of stuff. Kind of while I was there, I finally got turned on to computers. While I was there with Sammy on "Peace by Piece," and we were trying to figure out how to use this roll in sequence. I said, "Let me see it." I started figuring it out and within two weeks I had sequenced.... I forget what it was.... Oh yeah, Bach’s "Piano Concerto in D Minor, the first movement." I sequenced the piano part and all of the string parts. I played them back to Sam and he said, "Hey, It sounded just like the thing." I said, "This is cool." Then I saw somebody had a computer with a sequencer and stuff. And so I just kind of got drawn into that. As they say… "follow your bliss." So all of a sudden that is what I had to do. So I have been doing that ever since. I have been doing digital editing, digital recording and stuff like that, down here… or go to another studio. I have done some stuff down at Studio D in San Francisco. Actually, if you like the Golden State Warriors new theme song, I helped record [it], partly out here and partly at Studio D.

JB: You also shared with me earlier, that you are working on a home computer game?

DF: The music for a computer game? Yeah. That is with Freddie… not mine. Somebody else is doing that, I am just being technical…

JB: Oh technical, in your studio right here… at your home?

DF: Uh huh, and I do some stuff with Linda at home, some dance. She’s uh… very big. She has a lot of gay disco fans. They love her. She has a hit on the charts right now.

JB: What is her full name?

DF: Linda Imperial. She has a chart on the High Energy Euro Charts right now, in the dance music of DMA Magazine. I think she is number two, or three, or six. Some of it was recorded here, some of it not.

JB: Musical family! So what do you see on your horizon?

DF: Whatever’s next? I don’t know.

JB: Do you ever miss playing in front of people? Live gigs?

DF: You know… not really. I haven’t. I don't know. I don't seem too, but I don't know.

JB: What about… you have had a lot of encouragement to work on a solo CD?

DF: I have noticed that! Good luck to that. I don’t know. Right now I am not particularly interested in it, but I might. I don't know. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

JB: I would encourage you. However much that counts for.

DF: Thanks. Thanks a lot. [laughing]

JB: You know looking back at Quicksilver. Do you remember anything that may not have seen the light of day? Is there any unreleased tracks or albums?

DF: I was looking like crazy for the rest of the stuff, from when we did the Happy Trails album. Because they recorded everything we did, for like five sets in New York and 6 sets…

JB: Live stuff?

DF: All live stuff. And it’s all gone, and Capital can’t find it. There is some bootleg stuff that was done at those various places but they are all terrible.

JB: I have heard a couple that are pretty good. Gary has a couple of CD’s, you know, bootleg CDs. I don’t know if you ever have seen them but they are excellent quality.

DF: Really?

JB: Yes, they probably were recorded during that time.

DF: I don’t know how they got them.

JB: Any studio tracks that you can recall?

DF: I don’t think so.

JB: Pretty much everything is out?

DF: I think it is all there that is going to be there. Except for what Duncan does new, and I am sure he is going to come out with lots.

JB: Yeah, He is going out on a tour I understand. He has got a new management company that is getting him new gigs across the country.

DF: He is going to Japan I heard? That would be neat.

JB: I heard talk about that. No interest on your part, even to sit in with them on a local gig?

DF: I don’t know.

JB: Again, I will encourage you.

DF: Not really. I don’t know any of the stuff he is doing. I think he has got a great band. I love it. I mean I helped master the "Winery" one, and that is really good.

JB: I was there at that concert. I can’t wait for that to come out.

DF: He has a good band. Why should I get in there and screw things up now?

JB: Just to jam. But of course, you said back in the sixties, you didn’t jam with people.

DF: Not very much, I like to know what I am going to do.

JB: Well I appreciate the time and the information you shared.

DF: Sure, my pleasure. I hope it works out. Good luck transcribing all of it.

JB: Thank you.

I'd like to thank David Freiberg and Gary Duncan for helping me with this interview. Also a special thanks goes to Martha Jessie Gonzalez and Bill Delaney for doing the transcribing.

Copyrighted by John Barthel and David Freiberg 1998

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