It's a Beautiful Day
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|It's a Beautiful Day|
The band in 1974.
|Origin||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Genres||Psychedelic rock, folk rock, classical, jazz|
|Years active||1967–1974, 2000–present|
Linda Baker LaFlamme
|Past members||Pattie Santos|
David LaFlamme, who as a youth had formerly once performed as a soloist with the Utah Symphony Orchestra, had previously been in the group Orkustra playing five-string violin. The other members of It's a Beautiful Day in its early years were Hal Wagenet (guitar), Mitchell Holman (bass) and Val Fuentes (drums). Although they were one of the earliest and most important San Francisco bands to emerge from 1967's social phenomenon Summer of Love, the band never quite achieved the success of contemporaries such as Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Santana, with whom they had connections. The band created a unique blend of rock, jazz, folk, classical, and world-beat styles during the initial seven years it was officially together.
Early history: 1967–1969
The band's original manager, Matthew Katz, had previously worked with the rock bands Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape. The members of the band were unaware that the other two bands were already trying to end their business relationships with Katz. During 1967 and early 1968, Katz prevented It's a Beautiful Day from performing in San Francisco, telling them they were not ready. He booked their first public appearances at a club he controlled in Seattle, Washington, formerly known as the Encore Ballroom. Katz renamed the club San Francisco Sound. While in Seattle, the group lived in the attic of an old house owned by Katz while writing and rehearsing new songs in between club performances. Few customers came to the club during the band's engagement in Seattle during December 1967.
The band's signature song "White Bird" was inspired by the experiences David and Linda LaFlamme had while living in Seattle. In an ironic twist on the band's name, the sad song was partly inspired by Seattle's rainy winter weather. In a later interview, David LaFlamme said:
- "Where the 'white bird' thing came from ... We were like caged birds in that attic. We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way."
By the time the group members returned to San Francisco they had no money and were frustrated by Katz's attempts to manipulate their career. In desperation, they began playing at a few clubs without Katz's approval. The band gradually began to gain some recognition and earn money. The band got its first big break when offered a chance to open for Cream at the Oakland Coliseum, in Oakland, California on October 4, 1968. Around this time, the band first began a long process of trying to disentangle themselves from Katz.
The band's debut album, It's a Beautiful Day, was produced by David LaFlamme in Los Angeles, California, and released by Columbia Records in 1969. It features tracks such as "White Bird", "Hot Summer Day", and "Time Is". The album reached number 47 in the U.S. charts and number 58 in the UK. The theme from the song "Bombay Calling" was later used, at a slower tempo, by Deep Purple as the intro to "Child in Time" on its Deep Purple in Rock album. The vocals and violin playing of David LaFlamme plus Santos's singing attracted FM radio play attention, and nationally, "White Bird" bubbled under Billboard's Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 118.
The band was almost invited to play at Woodstock. When Michael Lang was negotiating with Bill Graham to get the Grateful Dead to appear, Graham insisted Lang put one of two other acts that he also managed on the bill. Lang then listened to a tape of both It's a Beautiful Day and the other band and liked them both so much that he couldn't decide, so he flipped a coin and It's a Beautiful Day lost. The band that won was Santana, who became stars overnight.
1970s and beyond
July 5, 1970, the band played the second Atlanta International Pop Festival in Byron, Georgia to an estimated 250,000 people. Pattie Santos sang lead on "White Bird", "Hot Summer Day" and "The Dolphin Song". The band had a regional radio hit with "Don and Dewey". Later that year, the original lineup of the band changed; the LaFlammes had split and Linda left the band, replaced by Fred Webb. The following album, Marrying Maiden, recorded at Pacific High Recording Studio in San Francisco, released in 1970, was their most successful in the charts. It reached number 28 in the U.S. (their only Top 40 placing) and number 45 in the U.K. In that year, the band also performed at the Holland Pop Festival at the Kralingse Bos in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music. Tom Fowler (later bassist for Frank Zappa) and Bill Gregory joined in March 1971, with their first performance broadcast live on San Francisco's KSAN FM radio, with host Tom Donahue introducing them as the band's two new members.
The band continued to record Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime in 1971, the live album Live at Carnegie Hall in 1972 and It's A Beautiful Day...Today in 1973, touring until 1974 when it split up after violinist Gregory Bloch left to join the Italian progressive rock group Premiata Forneria Marconi and later the Saturday Night Live Band. In 1976, LaFlamme's solo version of "White Bird" finally cracked the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 89. Patti Santos, who together with her husband, former group bassist Bud Cockrell (also original bassist with Pablo Cruise), had formed Cockrell & Santos in 1977, was killed in a car crash near Geyserville in Sonoma County, California on December 14, 1989.
The band reunited occasionally for reunions and special concerts. The band's music continued under the name "David LaFlamme Band" as well as "It's a Beautiful Day" until Katz let his trademark of the name go un-renewed.
Since 2000, the band features founder David LaFlamme and original drummer Fuentes. Other band members are LaFlamme's current wife, whom he met in 1974, Linda Baker LaFlamme (vocals), Toby Gray (basses and producer), Gary Thomas (keyboards and producer), Rob Espinosa (guitars) and Michael Prichard (percussion). They continue performing today, with LaFlamme contributing to Jefferson Starship's 2008 release, Jefferson's Tree of Liberty. This line-up was the longest continual group that has ever performed the band's material. In 2014, Rob Cunningham replaced Espinosa on lead guitar.
The song "White Bird" was used in the 2015 film Focus starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie, and was used in 2013's Adult World starring Emma Roberts, Evan Peters, and John Cusack; the album cover is also visible in one shot.
Covers of "White Bird"
The song "White Bird" is featured in the first season Knight Rider episode of the same name (Season 1, Episode 19, 4 March 1983).
The song also featured in two further episodes of Knight Rider: "Let it Be Me" (Season 2, Episode 23, 13 May 1984) and "The Scent of Roses" (Season 4, Episode 12, 3 January 1986).
In all three episodes it represented the love theme between the characters of Michael Knight and Stephanie 'Stevie' Mason (who had the surname alias of March in the 2nd Season episode).
The song has also been recorded by the bluegrass musician Sam Bush.
- David LaFlamme – violin, vocals (1967–1973, 1997–present)
- Val Fuentes – drums (1967–1974, 1997–present)
- Linda Baker LaFlamme (aka Dominique Dellacroix) – vocals (1997–present)
- Toby Gray – bass (2000–present)
- Gary Thomas – keyboards (2000–present)
- Rob Cunningham – guitar (2014–present)
- Pattie Santos – vocals, percussion (1967–1974; died 1989)
- Mitchell Holman – bass (1967–1971 plus several reunions)
- Hal Wagenet – guitar (1968–1971 plus several reunions)
- Linda LaFlamme – keyboards, background vocals, tambourine (1967–1970)
- Fred Webb – keyboards (1970–1974; died 1990)
- Tom Fowler – bass (1971–1973)
- Bill Gregory – guitar (1971–1974)
- Bud Cockrell – bass (1973; died 2010)
- Greg Bloch – violin, mandolin (1974; died 1987)
- Ralph Benkus – drums (1973–1975)
- Rob Espinosa - guitar & vocals (2000–2014)
- It's a Beautiful Day (1969) US Album Chart No. 47/UK Album Chart No. 58, 1970 (US: Gold)
- Marrying Maiden (1970) US Album Chart No. 28/UK Album Chart No. 45, 1970
- Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime (1971) US Album Chart No. 130
- It's a Beautiful Day... Today (1973) US Album Chart No. 114
- It's a Beautiful Day at Carnegie Hall (Live) (1972)
- 1001 Nights (Compilation, 1974)
- White Bird (David LaFlamme solo album, Amherst Records, 1977)
- Inside Out (David LaFlamme solo album, Amherst Records, 1978)
- It's a Beautiful Day / Marrying Maiden (rerelease, 1998)
- Beyond Dreams (David LaFlamme solo album, 2003)
- David LaFlamme - Live in Seattle (2003)
- David LaFlamme - Misery Loves Company (2005)
- Live at the Fillmore '68 (Classic Music Vault, 2013), with DVD The David LaFlamme Story
- "Bulgaria" / "Aquarian Dream" (1968) San Francisco Sound 7
- "White Bird" / "Wasted Union Blues" (1969) Columbia 44928
- "Soapstone Mountain" / "Good Lovin'" (1970) Columbia 45152
- "The Dolphins" / "Do You Remember the Sun" (1970) Columbia 45309
- "Anytime" / "Oranges and Apples" (1972) Columbia 45536
- "White Bird" (live) / "Wasted Union Blues" (live) (1973) Columbia 45788
- "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby" / "Time" (1973) Columbia 45853
- "Place of Dreams" / Choice Quality Stuff/Anytime (1971)
- "It's A Beautiful Day". pnwbands.com. Retrieved September 7, 2009.
- "It's a Beautiful Day USA chart history". Allmusic. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
- "It's a Beautiful Day UK chart history". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
- "Deep Purple. Ian Gillan interview, Mumbai 2002". Deep-purple.net. 2002-05-03. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
- "Billboard". Books.google.co.uk. 1970-06-27. p. 55. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
- Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 238. CN 5585.
- "Victim in Fatal Valley Accident Identified". Healdsburg (Calif.) Tribune. December 20, 1989.
- "California Death Index, 1940 - 1997". Family Search. citing Dept. of Public Health Services, Sacramento. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
- UK Chart Stats Vanessa Mae UK charts.
- "Gold & Platinum - RIAA". RIAA. Retrieved 2018-08-13.