Quicksilver Messenger Service
Quicksilver Messenger Service, often abbreviated as QMS, was a pioneering American rock band that emerged from the vibrant San Francisco music scene in the mid-1960s.
Known for their improvisational style and blending of rock, blues, and psychedelic elements, they played a crucial role in shaping the sound of the counterculture era. Here's a detailed history of the band:
Formation and Early Years (1965-1966):
1. Quicksilver Messenger Service was formed in 1965 by guitarist John Cipollina, vocalist Dino Valenti, guitarist Jim Murray, bassist David Freiberg, and drummer Greg Elmore. This lineup was short-lived, with Valenti soon departing due to legal troubles, to be replaced by vocalist and harmonica player Gary Duncan.
2. The band quickly became a fixture at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore Auditorium, often sharing the stage with other influential acts like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother and the Holding Company.
Debut Album and Success (1967):
3. In 1967, Quicksilver Messenger Service released their eponymous debut album, "Quicksilver Messenger Service." The album showcased their distinctive sound, characterized by long instrumental passages and intricate guitar work.
4. The band's second album, "Happy Trails," also released in 1967, is considered a classic of the psychedelic rock genre. It featured an extended live version of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" and helped establish Quicksilver Messenger Service as one of the leading acts in the San Francisco music scene.
Lineup Changes and Continued Success (Late 1960s):
5. In 1968, founding member Jim Murray left the band, and guitarist John Cipollina remained as the primary lead guitarist. Murray's departure marked the beginning of several lineup changes that would become a hallmark of the band's history.
6. Quicksilver's third album, "Shady Grove," was released in 1969 and featured a mix of studio and live recordings. It included songs like "Edward, the Mad Shirt Grinder" and "Shady Grove."
Decline and Transition (Early 1970s):
7. The early 1970s saw further lineup changes and a decline in Quicksilver Messenger Service's popularity. Many of the original members left the band, and new musicians, including guitarist and singer John Cipollina's brother Mario Cipollina, were brought in.
8. Their 1975 album, "Solid Silver," marked a significant departure from their earlier sound and was met with mixed reviews.
Later Years and Legacy:
9. The 1980s saw various attempts to revive the band with different lineups, but they never achieved the same level of success as in the 1960s.
10. Quicksilver Messenger Service is remembered as a key figure in the San Francisco psychedelic rock scene, and their influence can be heard in the music of subsequent generations of artists. They are often mentioned alongside other iconic San Francisco bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother and the Holding Company.
11. Tragically, founding member John Cipollina passed away in 1989, marking the end of an era for the band.
Quicksilver Messenger Service's legacy is primarily associated with their pioneering role in the development of the San Francisco sound and their ability to fuse rock, blues, and psychedelia. While the band's lineup was frequently in flux, their impact on the counterculture movement and the broader music scene of the late 1960s remains significant, and their music continues to be celebrated by fans of classic rock and psychedelic music.