[Photo: The Dinosaurs - (l-r) Melton, Hunter, Albin & Cipollina: Robin Kaplan]
[Photo: (inset) Spencer Dryden: Mark F. Lichtenberger]

The Dinosaurs

THE 1970's were not very kind to sixties Francisco rock groups with the exception of the Jefferson Starship and the Grateful Dead. However, pieced together from bands of the past comes a new, vibrant group, The Dinosaurs. Making their first public appearance in August, 1982 the Dinosaurs are now playing shows complete with liquid light and slide shows that would make any Fillmore West or Avalon Ballroom veteran feel at home.

Featuring acoustic guitarist and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina, Big Brother and the Holding Company bassist Peter Albin, Jefferson Airplane and NRPS percussionist Spencer Dyrden, and Country Joe and the Fish guitarist Barry Melton, The Dinosaurs have been meeting great response at their shows, all of which have been within the confines of the west coast. The Dinosaurs also bring new life to each show by inviting numerous special guests such as Nicky Hopkins, Mickey Hart, Country Joe, and Kathy McDonald to join the band on stage.

In a magazine interview the band said they want to "take the best of what they learned during the sixties, mix it with new experiences and finish what they started almost twenty years ago." Contrary to popular myth, The Dinosaurs and their counterparts have not retreated into an isolation tank.

Just like many groups of the sixties such as Cream, The Dead, Hot Tuna, and later on, The Allman Brothers, The Dinosaurs rely on the whims of fate as they improvise every song in hope of reaching the x factor, which is analogous to a golfer's thrill in scoring a hole in one. The Dinosaurs haven't released any records and currently have no plans to, so they rely somewhat on songs from their old groups or rock classics that they feel like playing at each show. "Since the most fatal error music can make is to become sanitary and stale," says Melton, "the Dinosaurs only practice a song enough to give everyone an idea of what they play. The Dinosaurs, like true improvisational groups, count on the energy of the show and audience to bring a song to life."

Having seen the Dinosaurs open up for the Dead on New Year's Eve and having heard tapes of a couple shows, it is evident this band has a good future. They have all been through the stardom mill and they realize it is a deadly spiral so it seems they will tread clear of the commercialism that studio record and business contracts bring to the most well-intentioned folks. The Dinosaurs sense of optimism and adventure will probably pose no threat to arena rock groups like Journey and Rush, who only see money at the end of the rainbow and ticket lines, but that won't keep the Dinosaurs or their fans from experiencing honest communication and fun.

Joe Corey

Relix, October 1983, Vol. 10 No. 6

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Last updated: 22-Sep-2002