Chet Powers

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Not to be confused with Gino Vannelli.
Not to be confused with Gino Vanelli.
Chet Powers
Chetpowers.jpg
Background information
Birth name Chester William Powers, Jr.
Also known as Dino Valenti, Dino Valente, Jesse Orris Farrow, Jesse Oris Farrow
Born (1937-10-07)October 7, 1937
Danbury, Connecticut, United States
Died November 16, 1994(1994-11-16) (aged 57)
Santa Rosa, California, United States
Genres Folk, rock, blues
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Instruments Guitar, recorder, conga, vocals
Years active Late 1950s–1994
Labels Epic, Capitol
Associated acts Quicksilver Messenger Service

Chester William "Chet" Powers, Jr. (October 7, 1937 – November 16, 1994) was an American singer-songwriter, and a member of the rock group Quicksilver Messenger Service. He was also known by the stage name "Dino Valenti" and, as a songwriter, as Jesse Oris Farrow. He wrote the famous 1960s song "Get Together".

History[edit]

Before serving in the United States Air Force and playing in the coffeehouses of Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts, Powers had already performed as "Dino Valenti" with small rock bands in New England lounges.

In the early 1960s, he performed in East Village coffee-houses such as the Cock 'n' Bull and the Cafe Wha?, often with fellow singer-songwriter Fred Neil, and occasionally with Karen Dalton, Bob Dylan, Lou Gossett, Josh White, Len Chandler, Paul Stookey and others. He influenced other performers including Richie Havens, who continued to perform some of Powers' early "train songs". Powers was prevented from acquiring a cabaret license due to an earlier arrest, a requirement that was beginning to be imposed on Village entertainers at the time.

By 1963, Valenti/Powers was in Los Angeles where folk-rock had already begun to coalesce. During this period he wrote his best-known song "Let's Get Together". "Get Together", a quintessential 1960s love-and-peace anthem, was later recorded by The Kingston Trio, We Five, The Dave Clark Five, H. P. Lovecraft, Jefferson Airplane and The Youngbloods, among others. He also falsely claimed the copyright of Billy Roberts' hit song "Hey Joe"[citation needed].

Valenti/Powers moved north to the San Francisco Bay area where he recorded for Autumn Records (an acetate of these sessions exists in a Quicksilver collector's possession), though no album was ever issued. He had been friendly with Roger McGuinn in Los Angeles and it is said that The Byrds' Michael Clarke played in a band with Valenti/Powers in Big Sur. He is said to have played in an early line-up of the San Francisco psychedelic rock group Quicksilver Messenger Service when John Cipollina, David Freiberg, and Jim Murray all joined his group in 1964. He later rejoined the group as its lead singer and main songwriter.

Powers' career was blighted by several drug busts. After arrest for possession of marijuana, while awaiting trial he was searched again by police who found more marijuana, then amphetamines in his apartment. He received a one-to-ten-year sentence at Folsom State Prison. To raise money for his defense, he sold the publishing rights for "Get Together" to the manager of the Kingston Trio (the Trio had recorded the song in 1964).

In the late 1960s, he signed as a solo artist with CBS's Epic Records, releasing the solo LP Dino Valente. He traveled with Quicksilver's Gary Duncan to New York in January 1969 to form a new band to be called "The Outlaws", while Quicksilver's noted album Happy Trails album appeared in March. While Valenti and Duncan were in New York, British keyboardist Nicky Hopkins joined Quicksilver for their third album, Shady Grove (December 1969).

The Outlaws came to naught and the two musicians joined Quicksilver at a New Year's Eve concert by the band. Eight of the nine songs on the group's next album, Just for Love (August, 1970) were written by Valenti/Powers, six of them under the pseudonym of "Jesse Oris Farrow". He remained the primary songwriter on their next album, in December, What About Me?. Despite occasional personnel changes the band released Quicksilver (1971) and Comin' Thru (1972) before calling it quits. The 2-LP Anthology was issued in 1973 and a tour and album, Solid Silver, appeared in 1975.

Powers underwent brain surgery for an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in the late 1980s. In spite of suffering from short-term memory loss and the effects of anti-convulsive medications, he continued to write songs and play with fellow Marin County musicians.

His last major performance was a benefit at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall. He died suddenly at his home in Santa Rosa, California on November 16, 1994, leaving behind a younger sister, Katherine (Kay), and two sons, Joli and Sterling.

Pseudonyms[edit]

  • Jackie Powers
  • Dino Valenti
  • Dino Valente
  • Jesse Oris Farrow
  • Jesse Otis Farrow

Discography[edit]

Solo[edit]

  • "Don't Let It Down" / "Birdses" (Elektra 45012) 1964?
  • Dino Valente (album)

Quicksilver Messenger Service[edit]

See Quicksilver Messenger Service

References[edit]

External links[edit]