Quicksilver Messenger Service

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Quicksilver Messenger Service ( QMS ) was a psychedelic US - rock band from San Francisco in the late 1960s and the 1970s.


The original line-up of Quicksilver Messenger Service (later just Quicksilver) consisted of John Cipollina ( guitar , vocals ), Gary Duncan (guitar, vocals), David Freiberg ( bass guitar ), Greg Elmore ( drums ), and Jim Murray (vocals and harmonica ), who left the group before the first album was recorded in 1968. The band was originally founded by John Cipollina as a backing band for the folk singer Dino Valenti (real name Chester William Powers Jr., Chet Powers for short and also known by other stage names such as Jesse Oris Farrow). Valenti (also spelled "Valente") had to serve a two-year prison sentence shortly after the band was founded for possession of marijuana and other drugs and did not return to the group until the end of 1969 as a singer and songwriter.

The band made their first paid gig in December 1965. During that time, the band began touring the west coast of the United States, earning a reputation as an outstanding live act, especially at the Avalon Ballroom. They played the earthy and drug-laden blues rock typical of the San Francisco music scene at the time , as did their colleagues Jefferson Airplane , Big Brother and the Holding Co. or the Grateful Dead . Special mention was made of the dispute with members of the Grateful Dead, instigated by Cipollina and Freiberg, which was marketed by both groups with great fanfare.

QMS had long fought hard against a record deal; It was only when singer Jim Murray quit and the soundtrack for the film Revolution could be contributed that Duncan, Cipollina, Elmore and Freiberg signed a $ 50,000 record deal with Capitol . Under the leadership of producers Nick Gravenites , Harvey Brooks - both musicians from Electric Flag - and Pete Wilding, it took two attempts to get the sound of QMS into the right shape. The first attempt sounded too much like Electric Flag and was discarded except for a few recordings. In the second attempt, the band members were given enough freedom to develop their own ideas. The result could be heard:

Pride of Man is a cover version of a Hamilton Camp folk number, the climax of which is clearly Cipollina's “scratchy” guitar solo. Light on Your Window is a number written by Freiberg and Duncan with a slightly melancholy mood. Dino's song was originally called I Don't Want to Spoil Your Party, Babe and was actually written as a live number by Quicksilver's mentor Dino Valenti. The highlight of page 1 is the instrumental Gold and Silver carried by the two guitars , which clearly shows the two different temperaments of the guitarists Duncan and Cipollina and, due to their different playing styles, creates a remarkable arc of tension. Gary Duncan and Steve Schuster are named as composers, but the basic melody for the solos was borrowed from Take Five from the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Manager Ron Polte contributed the title It's Been Too Long at the beginning of the second page . The end of the album and the highlight of page 2 is the 12-minute number The Fool , on which each of the musicians was able to demonstrate their skills and versatility. Freiberg not only plays the bass and wrote the lyrics, he can also be heard with a cello in the end sequence of the piece .

The second LP Happy Trails (1969) represents the high point in Quicksilver Messenger Service's oeuvre. Recorded at Fillmore West and Fillmore East, this live album impressively documents that the musicians from QMS were not studio musicians, but rather live workers . The focus of the band at that time was on guitar improvisations by guitarist John Cipollina. The guitarist achieved the timbre of his Gibson SG using a vibrato system from Bigsby .

After the release of Happy Trails , Gary Duncan left the band temporarily and was replaced on the third album Shady Grove, also released in 1969, by Nicky Hopkins , who also appeared on records of the Rolling Stones . Then Duncan rejoined the group because Freiberg did not want to perform live without his buddy Gary, and he was followed by Dino Valenti, who became the main songwriter, singer and head of the band since the 1970s LP Just for Love . After the publication of What About Me (1970), Cipollina left the group. The band project was kept alive in the following years by Dino Valenti, Gary Duncan and Greg Elmore and released several records of varying quality. In 1975 the last LP was released under the title Solid Silver , on which Freiberg and Cipollina also participated again and played a few concerts together. The following tour was denied by Gary Duncan, Dino Valenti, Greg Elmore with Skip Olson and W. Michael Lewis. It ended in 1979 with the final breakup of the band.

There was a reunion in 1986 under the name Quicksilver, but only Duncan as initiator and Freiberg as the only original members were involved. Since then, Gary Duncan has released CDs at irregular intervals, which were made in his studio in San Francisco and have strong blues and jazz influences.



Chart positions
Explanation of the data
Who Do You Love
  US 91 08/09/1968 (3 weeks)
Fresh Air
  US 49 10/03/1970 (9 weeks)
What About Me
  US 100 03/06/1971 (2 weeks)

Quicksilver Messenger Service

  • 1968 - Revolution (Original Motion Picture Score; UAS 5185 ): Codine (A2), Babe I'm Gonna Leave You (B1)
  • 1968 - Quicksilver Messenger Service
  • 1969 - Happy Trails
  • 1969 - Shady Grove
  • 1970 - Just for Love
  • 1970 - What About Me
  • 1970 - At The Kabuki Theater
  • 1971 - Quicksilver
  • 1972 - Comin 'Thru
  • 1973 - Anthology
  • 1975 - Solid Silver
  • 1999 - Lost Gold and Silver

Gary Duncan Quicksilver

  • 1986 - Peace by Piece
  • 1996 - Shape Shifter Pt. 1 & 2
  • 1997 - Live at Fieldstone
  • 2006 - Shape Shifter Pt. 3 & 4
  • 2006 - Strange Trim


  • 1998 - Three in the Side
  • 2008 - Six String Voodoo

Web links

Commons : Quicksilver Messenger Service  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Chart sources: US
  2. ^ Revolution. Original Motion Picture Score on Discogs .