Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Nick Gravenites, John Cipollina Band - Monkey Medicine

Known by various names in their time, including Nickelsilver and Thunder & Lightning, this is the only official recorded legacy of a band who served as a sporadic medium for Cipollina's talents throughout the Eighties, until his untimely death in the last year of that decade. However, they were primarily a blues rock band and anybody hoping for a West Coast classic is going to be disappointed. Having said that, some concessions are made to his former acid excess. A cover of the Quicksilver classic 'Pride Of Man' so slavishly adheres to the original as to be redundant, but 'Bad Luck Baby' brims over with that unique, quavering guitar. Ironically, the lead on the album's most psychedelic effort, the instrumental 'Small Walk-In Box,' is performed in the majority by Nick Gravenites, although it is none the less interesting for that. Gravenites also possesses an exemplary voice for white blues, but whilst it is satisfying in small measures, the surfeit of twelve-bars throughout the album would all fade into one were it not for Cipollina's soloing. Ultimately, Cipollina's latter day legacy is best displayed on other releases (Terry & the Pirates, for example) but this album will doubtless yield pleasure to all those for whom he remains amongst the most innovative of guitarists.

Nick Gravenites

Nicholas George Gravenites (pronounced /ɡrævɨˈnaɪtɨs/; born October 2, 1938, Chicago, Illinois), with stage names like Nick "The Greek" Gravenites and Gravy, is a blues, rock and folk singersongwriter, and is best known for his work with Janis Joplin, Mike Bloomfield and several influential bands and names of the generation springing from the 1960s and 1970s.[1] He currently resides in Occidental, California.


According to author and pop music critic Joel Selvin, Gravenites is "the original San Francisco connection for the Chicago crowd." Gravenites is credited as a "musical handyman" helping such San Francisco bands as Quicksilver Messenger Service and Janis Joplin's first solo group, the Kosmic Blues Band. Gravenites also worked extensively with John Cipollina after producing the first Quicksilver Messenger Service album. He and Cipollina formed the Nick Gravenites–John Cipollina Band which toured a lot in Europe.
When the band Big Brother and the Holding Company reformed from 1969 to 1972 (without Janis Joplin), Nick was the lead singer.
Gravenites was also a songwriter for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, which consisted of Elvin Bishop, Paul Butterfield, Sam Lay and Michael Bloomfield, then formed The Electric Flag with Butterfield guitarist Mike Bloomfield. Gravenites is also responsible for writing the score for The Trip, produced the music for the movie Steelyard Blues. He produced the pop hit "One Toke Over the Line" for Brewer & Shipley and the album Right Place, Wrong Time for Otis Rush, for which he was nominated for a Grammy Award. Together with John Kahn, Gravenites produced the album 'Not mellowed with Age' by Southern Comfort (CBS S 64125 - 1970). Over the years, Gravenites would often use pianist Pete Sears in his band "Animal Mind", including on his 1980 Blue Star album on which Sears played keyboards and bass. They also played together in front of 100,000 people on Earth Day 1990 at Crissy Field, San Francisco. Sears also joined him for a tour of Greece.
He still performs live in northern California. Gravenites was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame in 2003 for his song "Born In Chicago". He recently toured with the Chicago Blues Reunion and a new Electric Flag Band.



  • 1968 Long Time Comin' The Electric Flag
  • 1969 My Labours
  • 1970 Be A Brother Big Brother and the Holding Company
  • 1972 Joplin In Concert
  • 1973 Steelyard Blues OST
  • 1980 Blue Star (Line Records)
  • 1982 Monkey Medicine The Nick Gravenites John Cipollina Band
  • 1991 Live At The Rodon Nick Gravenites and John Cipollina (Music Box)
  • 1996 Don't Feed The Animals
  • 1999 Kill My Brain
  • 2005 Buried Alive In The Blues (live)

John Cipollina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Cipollina

Cipollina, with Copperhead, 1976
Keystone Berkeley, Courtesy, David Gans
Background information
Birth nameJohn Holland Mallet III
BornAugust 24, 1943
Berkeley, California
DiedMay 29, 1989 (aged 45)
San Francisco, California
GenresRock, psychedelic rock, blues, jazz
InstrumentsGuitar, bass, piano
Years active1964–1989
LabelsCaptitol, Line Records, Music Box Records
Associated actsQuicksilver Messenger Service, Copperhead, The Dinosaurs, Man
Notable instruments
Gibson SG
John Cipollina (August 24, 1943 - May 29, 1989) was a guitarist best known for his role as a founder and the lead guitarist of the prominent San Francisco rock band Quicksilver Messenger Service. After leaving Quicksilver he formed the band Copperhead and then later played with numerous other bands.

 Early Years

Born in Berkeley, California, in 1943 John Cipollina attended Tamalpais High School, in Mill Valley, California (as did his brother, Mario Cipollina, born 1954). John showed great promise as a classical pianist in his youth, but soon switched to the guitar as his primary instrument.

 Equipment and technique

Cipollina had a unique guitar sound, mixing solid state and valve amplifiers as early as 1965. He is considered one of the fathers of the San Francisco psychedelic rock sound.
"I like the rapid punch of solid-state for the bottom, and the rodent-gnawing distortion of the tubes on top."[1]
To create his distinctive guitar sound, Cipollina developed a one-of-a-kind amplifier stack. His Gibson SG guitars had two pickups, one for bass and one for treble. The bass pickup fed into two Standel bass amps on the bottom of the stack, each equipped with two 15-inch speakers. The treble pickups fed two Fender amps: a Fender Twin Reverb and a Fender Dual Showman that drove six Wurlitzer horns.[2]
Cipollina used a custom foot switch setup to select reverb, tremolo, Astro Echoplex (the unit mounted on the right of the Twin Reverb), and Standel Modulux (on the left of the twin reverb). 12 volt automotive running lights indicated which effect was being used.
Cipollina also employed a Gibson Maestro Fuzz and Vox wah-wah/volume pedals.
Throughout his career, Cipollina usually played Gibson SGs, but in the late '70s and into the '80s could also be seen playing a Carvin DC150, which was similar to a double-cutaway Les Paul, but with more modern factory installed electronics. He played with finger picks, thumb picks, and used a whammy bar extensively which, he explained to Jerry Garcia, was to make up for his weak left hand.

 Career After Quicksilver Messenger Service

After leaving Quicksilver, Cipollina formed the band Copperhead with early Quicksilver member Jim Murray (musician) (who was soon to leave for Maui, Hi.), former Stained Glass member Jim McPherson, drummer David Weber, Gary Phillipet (AKA Gary Phillips (keyboardist) later a member of Bay Area bands Earthquake and The Greg Kihn Band) and Pete Sears who went on to play with the original Jefferson Starship and later Hot Tuna. Before recording their first album, Sears flew back to England to play piano on Rod Stewart's Never a Dull Moment album, and play bass for keyboardist Nicky Hopkins. Sears was replaced by James Hutchinson (musician). Now a prominent studio musician and long time bassist with Bonnie Raitt.[3][4]
Experience with Man
In 1974, the Welsh psychedelic band Man were embarking upon a tour of the UK and the United States, but within the final leg of their tour their guitarist Micky Jones developed pneumonia and most of the dates had to be cancelled. John Cipollina was suggested to fill the place of Jones for the final gigs that were to be at the San Francisco Winterland. As they were a two-guitar band, the band met and rehearsed with Cipollina, who played with them at Winterland, and agreed to play a UK tour. These were a great success, and promoter Bill Graham paid them a bonus, and rebooked them, but the band had a shaky line-up, and one of its members left. They still were able to continue the tour in the UK, during which their "Roundhouse gig" was recorded, but rumors hold that Micky Jones had to over-dub Cipollina’s parts, as his guitar was out of tune, before their Maximum Darkness album could be released.[5] Even so, the album eventually reached #25 in the UK album charts.[6]


Cipollina died on 29 May 1989 from chronic emphysema at the age of 45 after a career in music that spanned twenty five years. Quicksilver Messenger Service fans paid tribute to him the following month in San Francisco at an all-star concert at the Fillmore Auditorium which featured Nicky Hopkins, David Freiberg, and John's brother Mario, an original member of Huey Lewis and the News. Cipollina's one of a kind massive amplifier stack was donated, along with one of his customized Gibson SG guitars, and effects pedals, for display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 1995.[1]
In 2003, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #32 of their list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.


 With Quicksilver Messenger Service


  • Dinosaurs


  • Raven


Maximum Darkness LP (1975) United Artists: CD (1991) BGO CD 43: CD Re-mix (2008) Esoteric ECLEC 2061 Micky Jones, Deke Leonard, Martin Ace, Terry Williams, John Cipollina Recorded at The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, 26 May 1975

[edit]Dr. Fankhauser


 Nick Gravenites

 Terry and the Pirates


With other artists


PRIDE OF MAN Included in the album Turn around go back down
Back the way you came
Can't you see that flash of fire
10 times brighter than the day
And behold a mighty city
Broken in the dust again

Oh God, pride of man
Broken in the dust again

Turn around go back down
Back the way you came
Babylon is laid to waste
Egypt's buried in her shame
Their mighty men are all beaten down
Their kings are all fallin' in the ways

Oh God, pride of man
Broken in the dust again

Turn around go back down
Back the way you came
Terror is on ever sign
Though our leaders are dismayed
All those who place their faith in fire
In fire their fate shall be repayed

Oh God, pride of man
Broken in the dust again

Turn around go back down
Back the way you came
And shout a warning to the nation
That the sword of God is raised
Yes, Babylon backed by it's city
Rich in treasure wide in fame

Oh God, pride of man
Broken in the dust again

And it shall cause your tower to fall
Make of you a pyre of flame
Oh, you who dwell on many waters
Rich in treasure wide in fame
You bow unto your, your god of gold
Your pride of might shall be a shame
For only God can lead his people
Back unto the earth again

Oh God, pride of man
Broken in the dust again

Our holy mountain be restored
And mercy on that people
That people

No comments:

Post a Comment