Quicksilver Messenger Service
For Speedy Relief Of Tedium

QMS & Families
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David tuning
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QMS & Families
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The Quicksilver family (top left), gathered for Jason's birthday (l. to r.) "Girl" (that's her name), David with Jessica, Gary, Shelley with Heather, Jeannie with Jason, and Greg. John grins smugly in the front row before disappearing in a cloud of smoke. That's David tuning (far left) and John recording (above).

John recording
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The Quicksilver Messenger Service didn't just happen upon their name, nor did it come to them via a flaming pie, a revelation, or other supernatural phenomenon... unless you consider astrology supernatural.

All five of the original Quicksilver (there are now four) were interested in astrology, and lo (aha, even), they discovered that they were four Virgos and one Gemini - all signs ruled by the planet Mercury. Mercury is also the mythological messenger of the gods, fast as Quicksilver. And there it was.

Coincidence (or fate, or the stars) has occupied a major role in Quicksilver's life; not only are they all Virgos, there are only two birthdays in the group - August 24 and September 4. And of the three Quicksilver fathers, each has a child whose birth sign is the same as his rising sign. David Freiberg's daughter Jessica is a Virgo, Gary Duncan's daughter Heather is Aquarius, and Greg Elmore's son Jason is Aries. Bachelor John Cipollina, therefore, must have a Virgo child to keep up the tradition.

For those of you who aren't astrology buffs, a rising sign is determined by your birth date, birth time, and birth place. Your rising sign is ostensibly the personality you project, whereas your birth sign is the Real You.

Aside from astrological quirks, the Quicksilver are notable for something else. They're a good group. Really good. They're relative late-comers in the San Francisco boom; although they've been around as long as anyone else up there, they took their time in signing with a label (Capitol) and making their first album, just out. They don't seem to be motivated by the drive to "make it big," they just like to play good music.

Greg and Gary (drummer and rhythm guitarist, respectively) were originally with a group called the Brogues, out of Merced, California. John and David (lead guitar and bass) and Jim, the Gemini who left, found each other on Water Street in San Francisco about two years ago. They're now suburbanites, living in woodsy Mill Valley.

They all come from mixed bags. David's musical training was classical; he played the violin when he was young, and his father is a college professor. John's mother was a piano teacher - John played piano for twelve years but doesn't go near one today. David did the piano parts on their album. Gary has a jazz background, Greg's been in blues. David and Gary do most of the songwriting, but like most groups the real arranging is done together, spontaneously. They sometimes play around with a song
Gary thoughtful
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Dino + QMS
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Greg Elmore
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Gary goes thoughtful backstage (top). Grinning Greg Elmore (bottom) is the quietest of the four. Old friend Dino Valente (center, in striped pants), joins the Quick for a San Francisco concert.

for months, changing and improvising within a loose melody pattern. One song, "The Fool", has been as long as 30 minutes, but they brought it down to 12 minutes for the album. There are only six songs on the album, by the way.

In addition to an album, the Quick have done part of the sound track for a film called "Revolution," about San Francisco. "We did it over a year ago and we weren't very good," David told me, "but the thing isn't out yet!"

David also told me that John is a list-maker. "He keeps a notebook full of every set we've ever played so we never do the same set twice. He also kept a list of all our recording dates. I think he wants make a chart (astrological) on each song, but he'll probably never get around to it."

The Quick have just recently started playing outside of San Francisco - in Seattle, Denver, Los Angeles, and the East Coast. If you haven't had a chance to see them yet, don't despair. And if you're lucky enough to meet them, perhaps you too will be impressed with the utter lack of pretentious cool and their genuine friendliness.

J. S.

Photos by Jim Marshall

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TeenSet, July 1968

[Thanks to Mark Lawton for doing the scans.]

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Last updated: 22-Apr-2004