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music friday

I'm always fascinated by the kinds of concerts Bill Graham used to construct. In the early days, he wasn't afraid of combining acts that didn't necessarily fit together. This show is from August 26, 1966, at the Fillmore.

The opening act was Sopwith Camel. Their first album wouldn't come out until the next year, so they would have been just another San Francisco band as that scene emerged (Graham didn't put on his first Fillmore show until late in 1965). That debut album was a bit of good news/bad news ... the good news was they got a Top 40 hit out of it, which no other SF band had managed yet. The bad news was that hit, "Hello, Hello", was a charming pop tune, perhaps not what "the scene" expected. Amidst the burgeoning psychedelic rock scene, Sopwith Camel's album had no songs over 3 minutes (the entire album was just over 25 minutes long). As Michael Goldberg noted in a 1987 Rolling Stone article, "For San Francisco's psychedelic Sopwith Camel, life as a Sixties pop sensation ended as quickly as it began. In February of 1967, the band scored its one and only hit, a good-time novelty tune called 'Hello, Hello.' Within six months — immediately following the release of its debut album — the band was defunct and slipping from public consciousness, so much so that the album carried a sticker reminding buyers, REMEMBER HELLO, HELLO!"

Here they are lip-syncing their hit on Where The Action Is, a Dick Clark TV show that ran for a couple of years in the mid-60s:

Next up was another local band, The Great Society. This was another short-lived band ... they only recorded one single before they broke up. (Sly Stone was the producer ... he is said to have walked out on them when they couldn't get a track right after 50 takes.) One big reason they broke up is because their lead singer left to join another band. She took with her two songs, one she wrote and one written by her brother-in-law, the group's guitarist. Those songs were "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love", the singer was Grace Slick, and the band was Jefferson Airplane. Slick and the Airplane's success led to the release of two Great Society albums of live material. Here's the single:

The headliners were a band from Austin, Texas, the 13th Floor Elevators, led by the legendary Roky Erickson. In August of 1966, they had a single, "You're Gonna Miss Me", that was a local hit in San Francisco, among other places. Their first album, titled The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, came out later in '66. It's a tremendous single, but the band wasn't kidding about the "psychedelic" part ... they were aficionados of LSD ("We're all heads!", as electric jug player Tommy Hall said to Dick Clark):

Erickson had mental health problems that plagued him the rest of his life (he died a couple of years ago at age 71).

Here they are on that same American Bandstand show:

A band with one pop hit, a pre-Airplane band with Grace Slick, and a psychedelic band from Austin. A fine bill! Here's a Spotify list with a mix of related music:

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