‘Garage Rock’ the 60’s: Part 16

by Jack B. Stephens

Sounds of the 60s: Garage Bands and Rock, Part 16

by Jack B. Stephens

In our series, it becomes clear that most bands did not stay together long. The bands did have the talent and ability to stay together; however, reasons for breakups usually involved factors such as frustration with the band, artistic differences among the members, opportunities with other bands, unforeseen circumstances and a whole host of other causes. What is true is that each became a piece of rock and roll music history. Many members continued to have success with other bands or solo careers.

Blue Cheer

Blue Cheer was founded in 1967 in San Francisco. They are known as pioneers in heavy metal and influential in the genres of punk and grunge. Their live performances were as loud as they could possibly be and included stage antics such as bashing their guitars on amps. Some people of the time found them to be outright scary. They were banned from American Bandstand after offering Dick Clark a toke off a marijuana joint before their performance. Their first release “Summertime Blues” reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968. However, it was their only single to chart. The group did release several other singles including “Just a Little Bit” and “Feathers from Your Tree” in 1968, “Hello L.A., Bye-Bye Birmingham” in 1969 and “Pilot” in 1970. Several lineup changes challenged their continued success and the group disbanded in 1972.

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Tim Tam and The Turn-Ons

The members of Tim Tam and The Turn-Ons formed a vocal band in 1964 while attending Allen Park High School in Michigan. There was another group of musicians from the school named The Satellites who merged with the band to produce The Turn-Ons biggest hit “Wait A Minute” backed with the instrumental “Opelia”. The single reached number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966. Their next release in 1966 was “Cheryl Ann” with a more doo-wop sound. The band followed with the singles “Kimberly” and the instrumental “Don’t Say Hi”. The group did not reach huge national success; however, they were very popular regionally. They had a very similar sound to The Four Seasons. The Turn-Ons parted ways in 1967.

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Quicksilver Messenger Service

Quicksilver Messenger Service formed in 1965 in San Francisco. They became popular in the Bay Area with the band focusing on creating an innovative sound. After rehearsing and finding the right members, the band played their first concert at a Christmas party in 1965. They built up a following by performing at the Monterey Pop Festival and extensively touring the West Coast. The band signed with Capitol Records in 1967 and released their first self titled album in 1968. The follow up live album “Happy Trails” in 1969 was successful and achieved gold status. The band continued on with “Just for Love” in 1970; however, the band consistently had problems with original members leaving and taking a toll on the group, but other albums did follow until 1975. They were primarily an album-oriented, live performance band, but did have four charted singles including “Dino’s Song” in 1968 reaching number 63 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Who Do You Love” peaking at number 91, “Fresh Air” reaching number 49 in 1970 and “What About Me” peaking at number 100 the same year. “All I Ever Wanted to Do” performed at the Monterey Pop Festival is also noteworthy.

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Country Joe and The Fish

Country Joe and The Fish formed in 1965 in Berkeley, California and were influential in the psychedelic music scene. They are often credited with the formation of acid rock. The lyrics of their songs often concentrated on topics such as anti-war, free love and drug use. They had several album and single releases; however, they only had one single that charted nationally from their debut album “Electric Music for the Mind and Body” in 1967. “Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine” reached number 98 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band was known more for albums and live performances including the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. Their second album in 1967 “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die” featured the title track preceded by “The Fish Cheer” which became their most well-known song and one of the era’s most popular protest songs. Their third album “Together” in 1968 became their most popular; however, the year also saw the beginning of lineup changes which eventually resulted in their breakup in 1970. Other single releases include “Who Am I”, “Rock and Soul Music” in 1968 and “Here I Go Again” in 1969.

As we cover each of these bands, we see the significance they had in the continuation of a style of music that was never meant to last. Rock and Roll Music was certainly never meant to remain the same and its evolution continues until this day. What is so amazing is the amount of different styles that fit under the umbrella. In this series, I try to give glimpses of several of these genres and the bands who created and influenced them.

-Jack B. Stephens